Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Summer! and American Ideals

Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness

Excellence, Creativity, Humanity


American Indian schools in Oakland:
Three no-frills charter schools in Oakland mock liberal orthodoxy, teach strictly to the test -- and produce some of the state's top scores.
But the schools command attention for one very simple reason: By standard measures, they are among the very best in California.

Among the thousands of public schools in California, only four middle schools and three high schools score higher. None of them serve mostly underprivileged children.

At American Indian, the largest ethnic group is Asian, followed by Latinos and African Americans. Some of the schools' critics contend that high-scoring Asian Americans are driving the high test scores, but blacks and Latinos do roughly as well -- in fact, better on some tests.

That makes American Indian a rarity in American education, defying the axiom that poor black and Latino children will lag behind others in school.

First graduates

On Tuesday, American Indian's high school will graduate its first senior class. All 18 students plan to attend college in the fall, 10 at various UC campuses, one at MIT and one at Cornell.

"They really should be the model for public education in the state of California," said Debra England, of the Koret Foundation, a Bay Area group that has given more than $100,000 in grants to American Indian. "What I will never understand is why the world is not beating a path to their door to benchmark them, learn from them and replicate what they are doing."
A Lumbee Indian who grew up poor in North Carolina and later struck it rich in real estate, Chavis took over American Indian in 2000, four years after it was founded with a Native American theme.

He began by firing most of the school's staff and shucking the Native American cultural content ("basket weaving," he scoffed). "You think the Jews and the Chinese are dumb enough to ask the public school to teach them their culture?" he asks...

It's a sad fact that the creator of the Aptera (below) was forced to design it to be classified as a motorcycle. Because of oppressive government regulation, he could not have created the Aptera as an automobile: he could not have incorporated the design features he sought. Oppressive government regulation used to be un-American, and absolutely IS an obstacle to life, liberty, excellence, creativity, and humanity.


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