may be in for trouble.nThe first signal may not come untilnreport cards arrive. Little Johnny, itnturns out, gets a C— in reading. SincenJohnny is reading four years abovengrade level on all the tests, you wondernwhat is going on and arrange for anmeeting with Miss Muggs. Rathernnervously, she says she’s glad you’vencome, because she can’t do a thingnwith the boy. (You wonder at this pointnwhy she hasn’t said anything for sixnweeks.) She admits that Johnny is thenbest reader in the class, maybe the bestnshe’s ever had, but he doesn’t do hisnworkbook pages well, has sloppy handwriting,nand does not use a #2 pencil.nWorse, he’s always fiddling and distracted;nhe seems bored with the work.nAt this point you mention that thenwork he has brought home does notnseem very challenging, and she explainsnthat because of his workbooknperformance, he has been put into thenlowest reading group, where most ofnthe children are seriously below gradenlevel. Rather than put him up to hisnlevel of ability, Miss Muggs recommendsncounseling and a visit to anpediatric neurologist. Attention DeficiencynDisorder, she calls it.nAfter several expensive visits to thenneurologist, it turns out that Johnnynmay have a minor problem, and,ncome to think of it, your teachersnalways described you as inattentive atnthat age. The remedy? A disciplinednenvironment and lots of intellectualnstimulation. Challenge his mind, younare told.nMiss Muggs is unimpressed and isninsistent upon keeping him in thenbluebird (or the shoes or the basement)nreading group. By now you have discussednyour problem with other parentsnand discovered that manynchildren—all boys—have the samenproblem in Miss Muggs’s class andnthat last year enough parents got sonupset over this sort of thing that theynwent to the principal.nAnd so with fear and trembling yountake your problem to the administration.nSix months later, after dozens ofnunreturned telephone calls and unanswerednletters, fruitless meetings atnwhich the parents are told to mindntheir own business and let the professionalsnrun the schools, you begin tonget the picture. Johnny’s grades havengot worse, and even the other childrennthink the teacher is picking on himn(and on the other boys whose parentsnare upset); your name is mud withneveryone from the janitor to the superintendent,nand now the school is recommendingn(i.e. requiring) Johnny tonrepeat the grade and spend anothernyear with Miss Muggs. This, despitenthe fact that the achievement testsnshow work well above the national,nstate, and school average. “He’s justnnot emotionally ready for fourthngrade.” You sigh, and if you can affordnit, you put Johnny in a private school.nIf you can’t, you do your best to repairnthe damage by teaching him at home.nThis little drama is played out everynyear in school districts across the nation.nOne journalist who interviewednhundreds of parents discovered a generalnfeeling of being shut out of theneducational process. This is not just anpolitical question of who should be inncharge of education—people or bureaucrats.nAs Education SecretarynWilliam Bennett has stressed in severalnreports, one of the characteristics ofngood schools is their openness to parents.nThe more influence parents havenover sensitive areas of curriculum andnover important decisions affectingntheir children, the better the school isnlikely to be.nUnfortunately, the history of publicnschooling is a record of consolidationnand centralization. Where once therenwere small districts, large schoolnboards, and frequent meetings open tonthe public, there are now enormousndistricts, small boards, and little publicnaccess. Parents have few opportunitiesnto express their opinions, much less toninfluence decisions. The rationale fornall this centralization was simple:nLocal politics (i.e. democracy) wouldninterfere in the massive effort to reformnand professionalize education. Let thenpeople with the education school degreesnhandle the schools, so the argumentnwent; they know what they’rendoing.nIf centralization had resulted in excellentnschools, the petty tyranny ofnschool boards and administratorsnmight be tolerable. However, the dismalnrecord of the past 20 years shouldnhave convinced even the die-hard professionalsnthat the system was notnworking. What is more, politics hasnnot been driven out of education. Farnfrom it. Recent studies reveal a consis­nnntent bias in textbooks and curriculum.nThe schools are militantiy antireligiousnand uniformly left of center onnsocial and political issues.nThe underlying assumption of consolidationnwas that parents could notnbe trusted to look after their children’snbest interests—that we were either toonstupid or didn’t care. Now, the shoe isnon the other foot, and it seems apparentnthat our children’s education is toonimportant to be entrusted to the professionals.n(TF)nThe Bork ConHrmation Hearings answered,nonce and for all, the age-oldnquestion: “Why are there so few goodnmen in public life.” What a scene:nreptile-faced politicians putting insolentnquestions to a distinguished jurist,nwhose every word and gesture in a longncareer are subjected to the most minute,nhostile scrutiny. Judge Bork backpedalingnfuriously in a heroic effort tondisclaim every honest and courageousnposition he has ever taken.nThe opposition case was best expressednby former Transportation SecretarynWilliam Coleman, who complainednthat on constitutionalnquestions Bork “always comes out thenwrong way,” i.e., against the vestedninterests of feminists, homosexuals,nand professional minority activists.nThe high point in comic relief, however,ncame in the testimony given bynthe creative community. Artist RobertnRauschenburg solemnly declared thatn”democracy is not the product of law.nDemocracy is the need of the people tonbe free in dreams and reality.” There’snanother constitutional right Borknhasn’t heard of—the right to uncensoredndreams. Rising to heights ofneloquence not ordinarily heard in thenSenate, the artist expressed the artnworld’s fears of Bork: “Young, old,nrich, and hopeful are united by repulsionnthat a nouveau changeling by hisntongue and his unproven change ofnideology might entrap decades of innocences.”nA hundred dollars to anyonenwho can translate that into English.nThe eloquent artist was succeedednby the equally eloquent writer Mr.nWilliam Styron. Speaking for PennAmerica’s 2,000 writers (and voters),nStyron affirmed the desire of writersn”To write as we wish to express ourselvesnin prose and poetry on whatevernNOVEMBER 198715n