Monday, February 15, 2010

Yep, it's gotten this bad.

Here in Hawaii, the state has had to deal with major budget shortfalls: tourism is slow during these tough economic times despite South Koreans' visa waiver, and the ukelele export business has bottomed out. The governor and state legislature decided to handle it by something called "furlow Fridays," in which kids save the school money by not coming on the last day of the week. This has been a boon for the daycare industry, which takes up the slack for parents who might be in danger of losing their jobs anyway.

Well, the state of Utah might do Hawaii one better: There is a serious proposal before the state senate to eliminate the 12th grade:
At Utah's West Jordan High School, the halls have swirled lately with debate over the merits of 12th grade:

Is it a waste of time? Are students ready for the real world at 17?

For student body president J.D. Williams, 18, the answer to both questions is a resounding no. "I need this year," he said, adding that most of his classmates feel the same way.

The sudden buzz over the relative value of senior year stems from a recent proposal by state Sen. Chris Buttars that Utah make a dent in its budget gap by eliminating the 12th grade.

The notion quickly gained some traction among supporters who agreed with the Republican's assessment that many seniors fritter away their final year of high school, but faced vehement opposition from other quarters, including in his hometown of West Jordan.
Wow. I'll be the first to admit that most of my high school chums didn't pay much attention during senior year. Senioritis, where kids ditch school and head to the beach, was more contagious than H1N1. I could see the virtue of saving the state a few billion by just having people go work at McDonald's or stay home and watch Oprah until they hit eighteen. Or go to college early.

But I learned some of the most important stuff of my pre-college years in twelfth grade. That's when we had economics one semester and government the next. I actually learned a thing or two about the Constitution not covered in ABC's Schoolhouse Rock.

Besides, with the elimination of the fourth year of high school, wouldn't teenagers just become afflicted with junioritis?


  1. "Senioritis, where kids ditch school and head to the beach, was more contagious than H1N1."

    Hell, I thought me and billions more were supposed to cash out and begin our final departures the way you and the media went overboard with last year's swine flu pandemic. And, once again, it was the "regular flu," that I'm just getting over, that nearly caused my last breath.

  2. I've got a lot of work to do, so I'm not going to get into a whole discussion about this, but no, H1N1 was not "regular flu."

    It had high mortality and incidence at a time when the flu usually did not hit hard, which any prudent person in public health would see as alarming. The age groups experiencing significant mortality were groups usually not hit so hard by the flu, so demographically it was quite different, in a way that a prudent person in public health would see as extremely concerning.

    Moreover, it was a of a viral type not typically seen before and if it had mutated just right, it could have led to a far more deadly strain. It was absolutely prudent to try to curb it as much as possible to (a) reduce the number of deaths and (b) prevent as much as possible the opportunity for the virus to mutate into something more deadly.

    Rather than saying that H1N1 response was "overkill," it's more accurate to say that "regular flu" response is "underkill." It is appalling that we accept 30K or so deaths per year from the flu in the US, and a stepped-up campaign for hand-washing, staying home, etc., would lead to lives being saved.

    In the case of the regular flu, it would mean infants and elderly who would be saved. In the case of H1N1, it would be infants and people under fifty.

  3. "it's more accurate to say that "regular flu" response is "underkill.""

    Thanks for coming to this realization. My aunt just passed away from the regular flu last month at the age of 74. Not from cancer, heart disease, or AIDS, but just the flu that not enough people pay attention to.

    As for the current system of "bricks and mortar" schools with live teachers, I don't think it will be long before Bill Gates and others start to offer better alternatives and more kids become homeschooled via the Internet and having the best and brightest teachers delivering the content in this manner. The problem then is what will happen with all those who will be put out of a job who are part of the current woefully inadequate educational system in the U.S. Those are a lot of teachers, admin. staff, coaches, lunch ladies, and bus drivers that would be out of work in an already dreadful economy, but it goes to show you that “education” really doesn’t come first when it comes to the future of the country.

  4. John from Taejŏn wrote:
    Thanks for coming to this realization. My aunt just passed away from the regular flu last month at the age of 74. Not from cancer, heart disease, or AIDS, but just the flu that not enough people pay attention to.

    Well, I didn't "come to" this realization. This is something I've been aware of since, well, my early exposure to health instruction, which is long ago, since a number of people in my family are medical professionals, including my mother who is a nurse.

    And I'm very sorry to hear about your aunt. Seventy-four really is too young to lose someone, especially over something like this. Knowing of cases like that, it makes me angry when I see people who come to work when they're sick and stuff like that.

    I have two close relatives in nursing homes, where a lot of people are vulnerable and elderly, but still infectious people traipse in there like nothing's wrong. An ailment that just slows you down a bit can be deadly to others. Idiots.

    Again, my condolences.

  5. As for your comment, I think it's a fine idea for something like that to happen, though I would prefer it to fit with the "charter schools" system of public funding (lest we end up with a system down the road where not all are guaranteed an education).

    And I hope it does sooner, rather than later, because I am quite serious about setting up an affordable educational alternative to the "international schools" and the Korean-language schools for E-series visa holders and lower-income F-series visa holders. (See this comment from 2006.)


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