Having just flown back from the Indy 500 race, I was reminded of the importance of education and good hygiene. That’s why I donated $198 to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and encourage all 13,671 voters that voted yes on Measure A to donate $198 right now. It seems Linda Gross at the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation (www.smmef.org) has not reported being overwhelmed with donations, but you still have time to donate.

All those self righteous, name calling, lazy people who want to pass their burden onto someone else by not sending $198 to SMMUSD should be ashamed of themselves. I’m embarrassed for you. You have the nerve to ask your fellow citizens of Santa Monica to pay $198, but when it comes right down to it, you don’t have the backbone to make the donation yourself. I guess we all now know how unimportant the schools really are to you. If all 13,671 of you had donated $198, we’d have already raised half of the amount that Measure A asked for.

The job of our schools is to prepare students for college. Every child should be prepared to do college-level work or to be able to enter the workforce at least with the ability to read and write at a decent level. A few years ago, the Bush Administration started something called “No Child Left Behind.” Like most government programs, the standardized testing has been hijacked by the people who hate your children. They created the Academic Performance Index to measure student progress. Using this test, it’s next to impossible to figure out how to compare student progress in any meaningful way, making it almost useless. In the end, it doesn’t tell you how your children are going to do in the real world.

Here’s a statement from the Department of Education about Santa Monica High School, “Valid Score for California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) ELA in Grades 9-11: 866.” So what does that mean to your child? In short, standardized testing has done little to explain how the kids are doing. SMMUSD is a small district so we can affect real change. The University of California has a standard test for math and English placement. Let’s give that test to all seniors in both private and public schools who are not considered special needs children. If they cannot get placed into college level classes at the end of their senior year, all of the other testing really doesn’t matter. Blue collar manufacturing jobs create pollution and were sent to China so without college these kids have no future in America.

We’re now in a global economy. American children are way behind the world at many levels. The divide between the rich and the poor is often found to be based on education in the first 12 years. American students, on average, spend 37 hours a week in class while their counterparts in Asia and Europe are spending 60 hours per week. When combined with the shorter American 180-day school year versus German children spending 200 days, that shortfall after 12 years means German and Swedish children are armed with an extra year of school. Compound that with our long summer breaks, and you get children that are falling behind fast. Long summer vacations act as a mental eraser causing students to loose about three months of math learning from “summer learning loss.” Knowledge is the only weapon our children have when finding a job. Poorly educated children are a major financial burden on our economy, and are a contributing root cause of the high unemployment and recession we are facing.

Many people resent the fact that Santa Monica teachers work 183 days a year while the rest of us work 250-plus days a year. How about we have the teachers work normal private sector business hours, using a standard business year for real world business compensation? Having the teachers work normal business hours like they do in Germany means working parents are not burdened by day care. Have these teachers stay at school and provide time for the students to do their homework. I am tired of people telling me that the reason the students are failing is because of the parents. Somehow my father in boarding school was able to get a good education without parents. So it can be done. If the children need more time, then having children stay at school for longer hours will mean the homework will get done with someone present who actually knows how to teach.

For everyone who voted for “change,” let’s lock the kids up in school and make them do homework until 5 p.m. If they cause trouble, send them to a continuation school and protect the rest of the kids. Uneducated children grow up to be stupid adults with a vote.

Failure is not an option.

David Alsabery can be reached at alsabery@gmail.com.

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