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Forced Education by Public Schools Alienates Pupils

July 07, 1991

Is there anyone more self-righteous than the public schools? I'm a public schoolteacher myself, and consider myself a member of an honorable profession. But what other profession threatens its customers (or their parents) with imprisonment if they don't make use of its services? According to the stories in the Los Angeles Times (Southeast and Long Beach sections, June 23) and the Press-Telegram, Leticia Delava is being sent to court because her son has missed 30 days of school this year. She stated that her son wakes up with a stomachache, which she attributes to stress. Who is to say she is wrong? School is a stressful place these days, and it is almost unheard-of for school officials to attempt to adapt the school to the needs of the people forced by law to attend.

Perhaps poor funding makes individualized attention for students unrealistic, but the basically authoritarian mind-set of most educational authorities is a still more fundamental reason why kids are alienated from what the schools have to teach. Until school administrators learn that education requires consensus building between parents, teachers and students, the schools will remain in a state of crisis.

Or, if the school does not want to adapt itself to the person it is intended to serve, did the school's lawyers inform Ms. Delava of some of her options? For instance, there are scores of home-schoolers in her general area (I'm one, and invite her or anyone else interested in non-authoritarian schooling to call me at 498-3512). And I ask the Downey Unified School District to either help children learn in school, or help them learn outside of school, but don't try to solve their problems by force.

TOM PLISKA

Long Beach

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