Friday, December 28, 2007

Arakansas Travelers

If you live in New York, you may not know much about Arkansas. You may think people there just sit around and watch the grass grow. But it's actually sophisticated New Yorkers like me spending all day in dilapidated trailers.

In Arkansas, where kids may spend a great deal of time traveling on school buses, they've converted some of them into computer labs, and kids are actually taking courses on their way back and forth.

Ethan Clement, an 11th-grader at Sheridan High School who wants to become a microbiologist, said that, until she became involved in the Aspirnaut Initiative, it didn't dawn on her how much time she was losing.

"I've been riding the bus since I was in kindergarten, up to one-and-a-half hours each way," Ethan said. "Until this program, I never really thought about it. It was the daily routine.

"But we were wasting time sitting here. This could be an opportunity for everyone. Why waste your time on the bus, looking out on the same road you've looked out at every day?"

Meanwhile, here in the big city, we're closing schools, sending neighborhood kids all over the city, building new schools on toxic waste sites, dumping kids into windowless, unventilated little hellholes, converting school properties into condos, making no progress whatsoever on test scores we can't manipulate, devoting our very best facilities to pet projects of billionaires, and literally running away from concerned parents.

Maybe the real hicks are farther east than we'd imagined.

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