It’s all academic | AspenTimes.com

It’s all academic

Dear Editor:

I read Roger Marolt’s comment on the length of the school year with great sadness (“Is summer break bad enough to abolish?”, Dec. 3, 2010, The Aspen Times).

Mr. Marolt, along with many others in Aspen and millions of other Americans, does not understand that this country is in a war for the future of our children. Many areas, including Aspen, are losing.

Today the Financial Times provided the evidence necessary to respond. According to the FT, Shanghai tops the global state school rankings. The United States comes in 14th, behind the likes of Korea, Finland and Canada (No. 6). However, the author notes that the results vary by region in the United States. The Northeast came in high, ranked equal to those in the Netherlands at No. 7. Schools in the West came in 23rd, even with those in Italy. The recent failure of Colorado to win any money in the “race to the top” program suggests that we are not doing so well in Colorado.

This suggests to me that Mr. Marolt and others should stop complaining about proposals to lengthen the school year and begin complaining that Aspen students are probably mired at the bottom of the world education tables, along with those in Italy. Although he may not recognize it, this situation matters because the students in Aspen schools today are likely to have a hard time competing with graduates of schools in China, some courtiers in Europe and the U.S. Northeast. As losers, they will likely see these other, better students earn more. In time they will be forced out of Aspen by their richer and better educated brethren who buy them out.

At least Mr. Marolt should demand that local schools teach Russian and Mandarin to Aspen students. That way they will be able to mow the lawns and do the wash of the rich Chinese and Russians who displace them, even if they have to commute from Silt.

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Let me add that this saddens me greatly. For the last three years I have been a professor at the University of Calgary. I can attest to the success of the Canadian secondary school system as compared to the United States. Today, students from the United States generally cannot cut it at the University of Calgary.

Philip Verleger

Carbondale