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The Mayor's School Plan

August 25, 1985

I commend Mayor Bradley for his courageous proposal (Aug. 16) concerning a possible way to motivate very young children who are trapped in a morass of failure and despair. His suggestion is humane and full of hope for the children, for their families and for society.

Children in such a program would be able to experience worlds of new ideas, thoughts and achievements. Their perceptions of what is possible would be expanded, and their skills and patterns of leraning developed at the very time their minds are eager to learnand before they are hopelessly trapped in failure.

Many parents caught in the failure-and-despair cycle would welcome such an offer for their children. Those same parents, however, might find themselves caught in a dilemma of hoping for better opportunities for their children, and yet feeling terribly inadequate. Because of this dilemma, a program might successfully include an auxiliary program for the families. If their children are to aspire to better quality of life, then the families must somehow be involved so that they do not unknowingly sabotage any efforts or successes of their children.

Some years ago I saw a documentary about a program in Washington in which very young children (still in their pajamas) were picked up at their homes and taken to their "learning home" where they showered, brushed their teeth, dressed, ate a nutritious breakfast. During the day they explored, larned, took care of small animals, exercised and took naps. At the end of the day they ate dinner, brushed their teeth, put on their pajamas and were returned home in time for bed. Necessary for success in such an endeavor are capable and caring adults and of course, limiting the number of children in a group.

I hope Mayor Bradley's powerful suggestion will open an opportunity for Los Angeles to take a courageous step which can help break the cycle of despair for some pilot group of small children. It could be a beginning of more to come. Granted, the task won't be easy, but dealing with the results of people hopelessly trapped in that cycle isn't easy either. At least, helping the very young move out of that trap can offer many positive results--whereas doing nothing offers only negative results.

If such a program is started, I'm sure there will be a long list of families hoping their children can be involved and another long list of capable and caring people desiring to be their teachers.


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