Sunday, November 22, 2009

Paying for the NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences (NAPS) program

Paying for the NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences (NAPS) program I have proposed must be done with serious consideration given to three realities that stand in direct opposition to each other: 1) the academic needs of Talented and Gifted (TAG) students who excel in mathematics and the sciences are generally not acknowledged by U.S. taxpayers, because the general sentiment is that “smart” kids can get by in our public schools without any additional funding for merit-based programs that might result in educational advantages for the top-end few; 2) the U.S. is falling behind in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) expertise when compared to the rest of the world, especially in public schools classroom learning as measured by standardized tests; and 3) U.S. industrial companies, military forces, and intelligence agencies, and the space exploration of NASA must depend on the talents of U.S. citizens who are tremendously skilled and highly educated in STEM, especially regarding top secret “classified” developments that pertain to national security and/or to national defense.

Unfortunately, #1 trumps #2 and #3 in every case in which the outcome is dependent on a vote of the people. Americans are a people who will help the disadvantaged up to mediocre standing while simultaneously dragging the advantaged down to mediocre standing, even when doing the latter is not in their long term self-interest. That strange and peculiar trait seems to battle strongly against anything that smacks of stratified learning tracks, especially if there is a high-end fast track that in any way glorifies those whose talents and skills are not expressed in athletic competitions. In all of this, we are a stupid people, and we can no longer afford that stupidity — even if it means becoming un-American by saying “Yes” to an intellectual meritocracy that we collectively nurture starting no later than the seventh grade.

Establishing NAPS nationwide is a starting point that must be accomplished by whatever means necessary. It appalls me that many who should support my proposal do not, and that they justify their lack of support most ungenerously: from patronizing notions that value the humanities over the sciences as a supposed matter-of-fact, through scary statements that high school’s overriding purpose is forced socialization to the norm, to depressing pronouncements that “smart” kids do not need — nor do they deserve — special considerations of any sort. If it is left to the masses, NAPS will never happen. So the implementation strategy must go stealth regarding funding, and live by the crazy truth that a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse; in other words, just do it!

Do not go through local public school boards and public school district superintendents seeking support and approval. You will fail if you do so. Do not go through every state’s department of education hierarchy and every state’s legislature seeking support and approval. You will fail if you do so. Do not go through the U.S. Congress seeking support and approval. You will fail if you do so. The simple idea that is NAPS is too complicated for all except those who can see its beauty and its simplicity plainly at first sight. If you have to be convinced that NAPS is a good idea, you will never be convinced. Those who will not need convincing are these: the genius young people who score at the 99th percentile in mathematics and the sciences and who enjoy mathematics and the sciences, and the parents of those young people; Pentagon-based generals and admirals; the highest ranking personnel in the various U.S. intelligence agencies; and the highest ranking personnel at NASA.

Going stealth is as simple as this: entirely federally fund and entirely oversight manage NAPS through the public auspices of NASA with behind-the-scenes shared funding and governance coming from both the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). According to my proposal, the federal funding portion of the NAPS program is $61.2 million per year. NASA’s budget for fiscal year 2009 is $17.6 billion. DoD’s budget for fiscal year 2010 is $533.8 billion. The National Intelligence Program (NIP) spent $49.8 billion in fiscal year 2009 according to official documents (Oct 30, 2009), though the DNI, Dennis Blair, recently stated publicly “we’re talking about the very important business of a blueprint to run this 200,000-person, $75 billion national enterprise in intelligence …” (Sep 15, 2009). Most of the official NIP budget is hidden in the DoD budget, though some of it hides elsewhere; the details of the NIP budget are top-secret “classified” information that exists outside of any public scrutiny. NASA, the DoD, and the DNI have considerable shared interests (for example, spy satellites), so the “contract” work certainly boosts NASA’s $17.6 billion cash flow, perhaps significantly.

The point being this: $61.2 million split three ways between NASA, the DoD, and the sixteen U.S. government and military agencies that answer to the DNI make the NAPS annual federal budget of $61.2 million turn into invisible pocket change that no one will argue about because no one will be able to see it. That is going stealth, and that is a good thing in this case.

The NAPS program implementation then becomes this simple: NASA selects the 150 public research universities it wants to work with, and offers its deal to them and the local public school districts that would be involved at each NAPS site. With the backing of the U.S. government, NASA creates a high school diploma for the NAPS program that would be universally accepted by American colleges and universities. Doing this would bypass any odd high school graduation requirements that might exist in some states. The public identity of the program would be this: NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences is a nationwide effort federally funded and managed by NASA to educate future generations of scientists and engineers to serve the national interests of the United States of America.

Is there a downside to this paying scheme? No. Is there a trade-off? Yes.

Because each of the 150 NAPS academies will likely draw its students from many different public school districts and each NAPS will therefore float outside the control and jurisdiction of just one school district, NASA should establish itself as the de facto public school district equivalent for the entire NAPS program, meaning: NASA should take complete operational control of the NAPS program, and should leave no local program design control of any sort to parent groups, school boards, school district administrators, or the NAPS host universities. To accomplish this, the NAPS “high school” teachers must be NASA employees, and the entire NAPS curriculum must be NASA-controlled.

The NAPS curriculum I have proposed is simple and straightforward, and it is driven exclusively by the standard university prerequisite stream for mathematics and the physical sciences, which — when accomplished — fulfills the core math and science course requirements of any university-level laboratory science major (including the biology major). If anything, NASA might simplify my proposed curriculum in some way, though there is nothing to simplify that I can see. With few exceptions, NAPS will teach only select Advanced Placement courses (which are standardized nationwide) while living as a parasite on the standard undergraduate course offerings in mathematics and the physical sciences found at all public research universities in the U.S., and the subject matter and teaching of the university courses taken by NAPS students will not be tampered with or in any way controlled by NASA at all.

Paranoid people will rightly observe that the U.S. government will have direct free access to NAPS student transcripts through NASA, and that includes access given to the DoD and the various NIP agencies if they partner in funding NAPS. This does not in any way bother me, but it might bother some. To those “some” who are bothered, my advice is simple: do not enroll your child in NAPS under any circumstance. NAPS is an extraordinary optional educational opportunity that will only be available to the very few who qualify. If NASA, the DoD, and the DNI partner in making NAPS happen, then they deserve the access to student transcripts that they will have.

NAPS fulfills the government obligation to provide free public education through the twelfth grade for its students, but it in no way contractually obligates its graduates to ever work for the U.S. government in any capacity at all for any length of time. A NAPS graduate is entirely free to do whatever he/she wants to do with the rest of his/her life. That stated, it will certainly be the case that many NAPS graduates will be recruited by the U.S. government for employment and/or higher education opportunities that might have significant contractual obligations attached (for example, U.S. military academy appointments). But other private industry recruitments and also significant university scholarship offers will certainly come to many NAPS graduates. The plain fact of the matter is this: most NAPS graduates will be academically among “The Top One Percent” of all U.S. high school graduates in any given year; they will be in high demand by many, including the whole assortment of U.S. government agencies and departments.

In the end, many NAPS graduates will maintain their dream to become NASA employees, and they will freely choose to follow NASA’s guidance in their higher education choices in their continuing effort to make that dream happen. If NASA adopts this proposal, it will certainly have the inside track on finding and developing the very best young minds in America to meet the agency's ongoing need to remain on the cutting edge of new space technologies. Many young geniuses are naturally drawn to the exciting work that NASA does, and NASA should invite those young geniuses into its fold by becoming the U.S. government agency that funds and manages the NAPS program.

Steven A. Sylwester
November 22, 2009


Monday, November 16, 2009

Schools can fill the gap

The following was published in the "My Oregon" public blog "Letters to the Editor" by on May 11, 2009. See here.

* * *

Schools can fill the gap

Without delay, every public school board in America should call an emergency meeting to assess what the current homelessness problem is in its school district. The districts should then make immediate plans to open select middle school and/or high school buildings in their districts during the coming summer months to serve as an emergency shelter for the homeless families in their community. The opened buildings should include the school cafeteria and the school locker rooms. Also, in addition to the rooms opened to serve as makeshift living quarters, select rooms equipped with Internet-accessed computers should be opened to serve as classrooms to teach computer skills to the people being sheltered.

Though the intent should be to fill a very temporary need, contingency plans should be made to allow for the continued use of some public school facilities as homeless shelters during the next school year. Very importantly, the public schools should be used to shelter only families and only those families who have been established residents of the local community.

Those with relatives who can shelter them in another community should be encouraged to relocate, and that encouragement should include one-way bus fare. Those being sheltered should be given free public transit passes, free on-site child daycare, and free family medical screening. We should live the Golden Rule.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why Eugene's Civic Stadium should be the site for a new hospital

The following article was published online by Eugene Weekly on September 24, 2009, and can be found here.

Enough Already
The Ems have left Civic Stadium. Let’s look ahead.
By Steven A. Sylwester

Four years ago, Eugene Weekly published a long letter I wrote titled “A Good Idea: Locating the new Triad/McKenzie-Willamette Hospital on Eugene’s Field of Dreams.” That letter can be read at:

McKenzie-Willamette Hospital is now owned by Community Health Systems (CHS), but everything else in my September 2005 letter still rings true — and still describes “A Good Idea.” Unfortunately, my letter sparked the formation of the “Save Civic Stadium” campaign, and our community has had to endure the ongoing noise coming from that sincere effort ever since. I say, “Enough already!” The game is over: the Eugene Emeralds have left Civic Stadium.

A document titled "June 2003 Eugene Modernism 1935-65: Education" describes the history of Civic Stadium as follows:

In 1937, as turf installation at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field made the field unusable, Eugene High and University High teams faced the possibility of canceling all home games. As the district was experiencing financial difficulties, the community rallied behind a property tax to purchase a 17-acre tract on South Willamette between 20th and 22nd Streets. Construction of the field and grandstand was a cooperative project among School District No. 4, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The Eugene High School student body donated funds to purchase and install lights at the new Civic Stadium for evening games.

* * *

FACT: Civic Stadium was built primarily to serve as a football stadium. Before Civic Stadium was built, Eugene public high school football games were played at Hayward Field on the UO campus. Why? Because of the covered grandstands — it rains in Oregon during the football season! Springfield High School’s Silke Field — complete with covered grandstands — was built in 1942. The football fields at many other public high schools in the valleys of the Pacific Northwest and along the Pacific Coast have covered grandstands — again, because it rains here, and football is played in any and all weather conditions. By comparison, baseball games are either postponed or canceled when it rains. Howe Field on the UO campus has never had covered grandstands during its entire history, including from 1936 to 1981 when men’s baseball was played there.

* * *

Eugene High School was located where The Lighthouse International Church now stands between Charnelton Street and Lincoln Street between West 17th Avenue and West 18th Avenue. University High School was located on what is now the UO campus in the old Education Department building on the east side of the 1500s block of Alder Street and at the Kincaid Street dead-end south of East 15th Avenue. Those were the only public high schools in all of Eugene in 1937.

In 1937, the Eugene Airport was located where Bi-Mart now stands on West 18th Avenue east of Chambers Street. At the time, Chambers Street was the west city limits of Eugene. Most of the population in Eugene in 1937 could walk to Civic Stadium from their homes within 15 minutes, especially the wealthy elite who lived on College Hill and in the University Street district between East 18th Avenue and East 24th Avenue. The Guistina family home was located at 20 West 20th Avenue, literally just across Willamette Street from Civic Stadium.

The point being this: 2009 Eugene bears no resemblance at all to 1937 Eugene.

* * *

FALSEHOOD: The Save Civic Stadium committee states on the “Stadium History” page of its website: "During the period of significance (1938 - 1955), Eugene Civic Stadium was primarily home to high school football, baseball and soccer games."

I graduated from Churchill High School in Eugene in June 1971. At that time, boys’ soccer was played at the junior high school level in Eugene (then 7th through 9th grade), but it was not played at the senior high school level at all. Furthermore, there was no organized girls’ soccer being played at any level.

When I was in high school, some of us tried mightily during the 1970-71 school year to establish soccer as a high school team sport, but we were expressly forbidden to use the high school name, the high school playing fields, and the high school locker rooms. Those of us who wanted to play soccer then had no recourse but to meet on the junior high school soccer fields for pick-up games with no referees and no coaches, and we did so, including interscholastic play on Saturday mornings.

A bunch of us were once playing a full-teams pick-up soccer game after school on an unused playing field behind Churchill High School when the football coaches ordered the whole football team to purposely run through our field for no reason other than to completely disrupt our game. The high school football coaches in Eugene in 1970 were adamantly opposed to allowing soccer as a high school team sport, because they knew team soccer would certainly rob their football programs of some of the best athletes.

In the years following my high school graduation, soccer eventually achieved club sport status in some of the local high schools, and then finally became an official districtwide high school team sport for interscholastic athletics around 1978. It is an absolute certainty that soccer was NEVER played in Civic Stadium at anytime from 1938 to 1955!

* * *

All of Eugene’s public high schools used Civic Stadium for their home football games from 1938 until District 4J made a deal with the UO that allowed for use of Autzen Stadium for high school football games beginning in 1969. That District 4J partnership with the UO lasted for more than three decades until the decision was made 10 years ago to give each high school its own football stadium. Civic Stadium died when that decision was made to spend an enormous sum of public money to give four high schools each their own football stadium complete with an all-weather track surrounding the football/soccer field, high quality artificial turf on the playing field, new bleachers, permanent on-site concessions stands and bathrooms, an enclosed announcers/press box and field sound system, and stadium lights — and to commit to the upkeep of those facilities for decades thereafter. And now that District 4J has shown the commitment to significantly upgrade athletic fields at Jefferson Middle School, every other public middle school in Eugene is standing in line singing, “Me, too!”

* * *

THE-TRUTH-OF-THE-MATTER FACT: The Save Civic Stadium committee states on the “Stadium History” page of its website: “In 1969, Civic Stadium became home to Eugene's own minor league baseball team, the Emeralds. Upgraded to the Class AAA Pacific Coast League, the Eugene Emeralds required a larger facility than they currently had, and sought the assistance of the Eugene School District when plans to build a new stadium were unsuccessful. Baseball had not been played at Civic Stadium in over 20 years, but the team was granted a three-year lease to use and improve the stadium.”

CLARIFICATION (from Wikipedia): Originally created in 1955 as a charter member of the Northwest League, the Emeralds won the inaugural pennant and remained in the NWL until 1968. During that time, they played in 6,000-seat Bethel Park.

In the 1969 season, the Emeralds were promoted to AAA status, playing in the Pacific Coast League and affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Emeralds returned to the Northwest League and short-season Class A status five years later, when the Phillies moved their AAA farm team to Sacramento for the 1974 season.

With their 1969 promotion to the AAA ranks, the Emeralds moved from Bethel Park to Civic Stadium. The 6,800-seat facility is owned by the Eugene School District and was built in 1938 as a venue for high-school football, which was played there until 1968. Civic Stadium also hosted semi-pro baseball teams, sponsored by local timber companies, until Bethel Park was built in 1950.


* Short-season A (1974-present)

* AAA (1969-1973), A (1955-1968)


Why would “a historic landmark baseball stadium” be unused as a baseball stadium for “over 20 years” from the mid-1940s until 1969? Answer: Because, again, “Civic Stadium was built primarily to serve as a football stadium.”

I went to a Churchill High School football game at Civic Stadium in 1968 that was played during a heavy rain. The spectators were dry under the covered grandstands, but the playing field was an absolute mud hole. It was impossible to identify either team’s uniforms on the playing field by mid-game, because mud on mud looks like mud from any vantage point. The game I watched was not the last game of the season, so one can only conclude that the Civic Stadium playing field was a chewed up mess at season’s end, and that the damaged field would remain so until at least late spring when efforts could start to repair, reseed, and smooth the ground.

It does not surprise me at all that time and time again baseball teams tried playing at Civic Stadium for a short while, but then quickly left to play at Bethel Park, which was a dedicated baseball field that did not do double duty as a football field. It was not until 1969 when Eugene’s public high schools started playing their football games at Autzen Stadium that Civic Stadium became “a historic landmark baseball stadium” — a mere 40 years ago! It is an absolute misnomer at best to refer to Civic Stadium as a historic landmark baseball stadium; it is no such thing. Rather, it is an abandoned football stadium that happens to be a beautiful place in which to watch and play baseball.

The greatest sadness of all is that the Save Civic Stadium folks could not see the forest through the trees: the beauty of baseball is in watching the game of baseball being played, and the beauty of the south hills ridgeline and Spencer Butte is in seeing the south hills ridgeline and Spencer Butte — the setting of a baseball game is the baseball diamond itself, the outfield grass, and what is visible beyond center field. Too much love was given to an old building in sad disrepair. My guess is that the UO would not have sacrificed Autzen Stadium’s parking lot for PK Park if there had been freedom to build new at the Civic Stadium site, but that freedom was not granted by the loud public sentiment being voiced by the Save Civic Stadium crowd, and now we will never know — and now it is too late.

* * *

Civic Stadium is dead! Cry if you must, and be sad for the rest of your life if you must, but it is over. And to every insistent complaint I answer this: last year, they tore down Yankee Stadium — YANKEE STADIUM! — The House that Ruth built! I must state for the record that it is way cool that Satchel Paige once pitched at Civic Stadium, but that is not nearly enough to stop the inevitable wrecking ball.

I propose a two-step process to put an end to our community struggle over Civic Stadium.

Step One: As soon as possible, District 4J should poll every high school student in Eugene with a one-question questionnaire that asks: “Did you ever attend a Eugene Emeralds baseball game at Civic Stadium?” If fewer than 10 percent of the students answer “Yes,” call it “Game Over” by proceeding to Step Two and limiting the advisory to only questions #3 and #4. However, if 10 percent or more of the students answer “Yes,” go to Step Two and include all four questions on the advisory.

Step Two: During the next general election opportunity, put the following "Non-Binding Yes-or-No Advisory Questions" on all Eugene address ballots that are within the boundaries of Eugene School District 4J:

1. Should District 4J spend money to improve and upkeep Civic Stadium?

2. Should District 4J obligate itself to sell or lease Civic Stadium to only those who will guarantee that Civic Stadium will be preserved as a historic landmark baseball stadium?

3. Should District 4J sell Civic Stadium for the highest possible price and place all proceeds into the district’s general fund to be used as necessary?

4. Should District 4J sell Civic Stadium for the highest possible price and obligate itself to place all proceeds into a dedicated "District 4J Student Computer Systems Upgrade Trust Fund" that will keep and invest its principal into perpetuity with a binding pledge to spend its investment returns on a yearly basis solely on student-used school-based computer systems upgrades, including both hardware and software upgrades?

In late February 2009, I personally gave the following map information to Maurine Cate in the form of several finished maps during a face-to-face meeting. Cate is the CEO of McKenzie-Willamette Hospital. In the end, Cate seemed open to the possibility of seriously considering the Civic Stadium site for a new hospital location if the fight to preserve Civic Stadium ended and if the decision to locate a new hospital at the Civic Stadium site would not be met with endless community protests and Eugene City Council red tape. I do not know what Cate’s thoughts are today more than six months later as she reads the ongoing saga of the Save Civic Stadium campaign in The Register-Guard and Eugene Weekly, but Eugene's citizens should find out, and should do everything possible to erase those two big ifs from her thinking if there is any chance at all that a new McKenzie-Willamette Hospital could be built on the Civic Stadium site.

I offer the following map information here and now because doing so might guarantee a bidding war between PeaceHealth and Community Health Systems regarding the purchase of the Civic Stadium site from District 4J. Without a doubt, it is not in the best interests of PeaceHealth that Community Health Systems would succeed in buying Civic Stadium. In fact, it could be a financial disaster for PeaceHealth if a new McKenzie-Willamette Hospital were ever built on the Civic Stadium site.

Map Information: On a Eugene-Springfield map, draw the following four lines, and then bisect each line with a perpendicular line drawn across the map. For those with eyes to see, the bisecting perpendiculars will define the customer ownership territories of both PeaceHealth and McKenzie-Willamette based on the simple proposition that most people will naturally go to the hospital that is located nearest to their home.

Line 1 endpoints: Civic Stadium and Sacred Heart Hospital (Hilyard Street)

Line 2 endpoints: Civic Stadium and RiverBend Medical Center

Line 3 endpoints: McKenzie-Willamette Hospital and Sacred Heart Hospital (Hilyard Street)

Line 4 endpoints: McKenzie-Willamette Hospital and RiverBend Medical Center

For those who are without a compass or who are otherwise challenged to draw bisecting perpendiculars and then make sense of an assortment of intersecting lines, let me make it easy by describing the significant four lines that border the battleground area revealed by the perpendiculars. Draw each line including the points described for that line.

Line 1A: E. 30th Ave & Gonyea (LCC exit) intersection; Prairie Road & Pacific Hwy 99 intersection — the line you have drawn runs tightly parallel to Northwest Expressway

Line 2A: on Franklin Boulevard halfway between Glenwood Boulevard and Henderson; the east end of the Beltline bridge that crosses the Willamette River. If extended, the line you have drawn touches the arc where Hunsaker Lane becomes Beaver Street.

Line 3A: Maxwell Road from Prairie Road to River Road, and then extending to the Willamette River — the line you have drawn roughly connects Line 1A and Line 2A.

Line 4A: Glenwood Blvd from Franklin Blvd to I-5, and then extending to East 30th Avenue — the line you have drawn connects Line 1A and Line 2A.

If PeaceHealth maintains both Sacred Heart Hospital (Hilyard Street) and RiverBend Medical Center and if Community Health Systems maintains both the current McKenzie-Willamette Hospital in Springfield and a new McKenzie-Willamette Hospital at the Civic Stadium site, then “the battleground area” defined inside of the four lines just drawn becomes the entire justification for the continued operation of Sacred Heart Hospital on Hilyard Street. The hard reality and plain fact of the matter is that very few people live within “the battleground area” relative to the land mass covered, and that a significant percentage of the residents in “the battleground area” are lower middle class or poorer.

My guess is that PeaceHealth would eventually close Sacred Heart Hospital on Hilyard Street if a new McKenzie-Willamette Hospital were ever built on the Civic Stadium site, and would thereby forfeit all of Eugene south and west of the Willamette River to McKenzie-Willamette Hospital along with all of Springfield south of Hwy. 126 and east of 19th Avenue. No other possible new hospital location in Eugene would have that outcome. Anyone who knows Eugene’s traffic patterns knows 18th Avenue is the dominant east/west corridor and Willamette Street is the dominant north/south corridor for most residents living in either south or west Eugene, and that Civic Stadium sits at the spot where those two corridors intersect.

Despite all of the noise being made by the Save Civic Stadium campaign, Civic Stadium as a sports venue of any sort will do nothing to revitalize the economy of downtown Eugene — nothing! But an urban hospital located at the Civic Stadium site on a small acreage footprint with a continuous free-fare streetcar looping south on Pearl Street then west on East 20th Avenue then north on Oak Street then east on East 5th Avenue to connect the hospital to the 5th Street Public Market area and everything in between, including downtown Eugene and many existing medical offices — that would certainly revitalize the economy of downtown Eugene!

Ask yourself this: If you could revitalize downtown Eugene and make a thriving three-block-wide economic corridor from 5th Avenue to 29th Avenue between Willamette Street and Pearl Street with a new urban hospital anchoring the middle ground, and remarkably guarantee current computer hardware and software technology for students in all of District 4J’s schools until the end of time in doing so, would you do it? Would you do it even if it meant tearing down Civic Stadium? That is what is at stake here.

Read my “A Good Idea” letter linked above. Then reread this letter. If I were the architect, I would include those magnificent old-growth Civic Stadium support posts in my hospital atrium design, and would designate a Civic Stadium history wall in a public space somewhere inside the hospital to remember The Good Old Days — and I would design the most beautiful building in all of Eugene to stand glorious in one of the most beautiful locations in all of Eugene! And I would be happy about what was, what is, and what is to come.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Prior to the last election, I told then mayoral candidate Jim Torrey about my ideas regarding McKenzie-Willamette Hospital. He listened to me politely, and then he stunned me with a matter-of-fact revelation that McKenzie-Willamette Hospital would never build a new hospital in Eugene because the wealthy powerful people in Eugene would never allow it. He did not name names or elaborate in any way, but he made his comment plainly as if it were common knowledge.

I know enough about the power elite in Eugene to easily believe Torrey’s revelation. The powerful people in Eugene have enjoyed a long-term relationship with PeaceHealth that has endured on a mutually beneficial basis ever since July 1936 when four of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace arrived here from Bellingham, Wash., to take over the administration of the then new Sacred Heart Hospital. Seventy-three years of true loyalty and faithful service do indeed deserve the reward of continuing support, and so I do not fault those whose intent is good and honorable in choosing to protect the interests of PeaceHealth in our community. Furthermore, Eugene is small enough and PeaceHealth is small enough (operating seven hospitals in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska) that the power elite in Eugene can make a significant contribution to PeaceHealth’s success, and they have done so and continue to do so — and God bless them for it!

By contrast, Community Health Systems owns, operates, or leases more than 120 hospitals in 29 states, with an aggregate of approximately 18,000 licensed beds. Additionally, the organization provides hospital management, consulting, and advisory services to more than 150 independent community hospitals and health systems throughout the United States from its headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. Plainly, Eugene’s power elite would hold no sway to speak of at CHS headquarters in Nashville, and that would not be a welcome reality for some of them who are used to making a difference.

But these are changing times and precarious times, and the undeniable and inescapable truth regarding Catholic hospitals like those owned and operated by PeaceHealth is this: they do not provide all of the medical services for females that are currently legal according to U.S. law. As American citizens, we must each answer for ourselves whether this is acceptable. I personally accept decisions of conscience and religious conviction as being inviolable, and I do so from the standpoint of being a Bible-believing Christian who goes to church every Sunday, who sings in the church choir, and who believes abortions should be legal. Furthermore, I believe abortions should be safe, available, and accessible without the interference of delaying and costly legal procedural requirements and without personal harassments from strangers. My tightrope is my own, even though I am one who believes in absolutes. And, in the struggle to know what is untenable in my own mind, I fully honor that which is sacred to others, even if it is not sacred to me.

Steve Sylwester has lived in Eugene for 43 of his 55 years, and for the past 33 years he has lived within 10 blocks of Civic Stadium.

* * *

COMMENT: Above, I have re-included the separations (***) and points of emphasis (bold and italics copy) that were in my original document, but which were edited out during the online publishing process. Also, I will now add back in the concluding section of my original document, which was somehow unintentionally edited out by someone at Eugene Weekly.

* * *

Into that mix falls this:

Jan. 28, 2009

Abortion Foes Warn Of Hospital Closures Reports: Catholic Churches Are Pushing Parishioners To Pressure Congress Not To Pass "Radical" Abortion Bill

By political reporter Brian Montopoli.

On the past two Sundays, parishioners at the Holy Family Church in Nutley, New Jersey, have received a stark warning: If the Obama administration and Democratic Congress have their way, Catholic hospitals around the country will be forced to close.

The reason? A piece of legislation known as the Freedom Of Choice Act, or FOCA, that opponents believe will force hospitals and doctors to perform abortions even if they have moral opposition to doing so.

Since doctors at Catholic hospitals won't perform an abortion, the logic goes, the hospitals would have no choice but to shut their doors under FOCA rules. …
(please read the whole story at the above link)

* * *
Then read the document at the following link:
Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, Fourth Edition

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

This fourth edition of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services was developed by the Committee on Doctrine of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and approved as the national code by the full body of bishops at its June 2001 General Meeting.
* * *

CONCLUSION: McKenzie-Willamette Hospital is not a Catholic hospital. McKenzie-Willamette Hospital provides all of the medical services for females that are currently legal according to U.S. law. Therefore, McKenzie-Willamette Hospital should be located in Eugene, Oregon — preferably on the Civic Stadium site to best guarantee its competitive success.

Steven A. Sylwester
September 9, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Oregon National Laboratory Proposal

The following proposal by Steven A. Sylwester was the July 31, 2009, Featured Post at, which is linked here and here.

A shorter version : Eugene Weekly : Letters : "A NATIONAL LAB HERE" : Appeared in print Aug 6, 2009. See here.

* * *

Eugene-Springfield has a golden opportunity. The 1,100-acre parcel of land adjacent to Lane Community College that is owned by Arlie & Company would make an excellent location for a national laboratory focused on the “green” development of energy generating technologies using the many eco-friendly natural resources found in Oregon.

The selling points are these:
1) two nearby public research universities: the University of Oregon (sciences, nanotechnology center, and architecture school) and Oregon State University (sciences, wave study center, and engineering school);
2) adjacent Lane Community College (technician training);
3) the Pacific Ocean;
4) five nearby mountain rivers: McKenzie and Willamette from the Cascade Range, and Umpqua, Siuslaw, and Alsea from the Coast Range;
5) more than thirty hot springs throughout Oregon, many nearby;
6) the Columbia River and Bonneville Dam;
7) four nearby reservoirs: Fall Creek, Lookout Point, Dorena, and Fern Ridge;
8) an abundance of forest and agricultural byproducts;
9) five potentially active volcanoes in the Cascade Range mountains in Oregon;
10) frequently cloudy skies on the coast and in the Willamette Valley;
11) frequently sunny skies east of Bend;
12) coastal winds;
13) Central Oregon winds; and
14) located on Interstate-5 near Highways 58, 99, and 126 in a community with both a train station and an airport.

Nearby energy producing natural resources include: ocean waves and currents, river currents, dams, biomass, geothermal, volcanic, solar, and wind. Where else in the United States but in Eugene, Oregon, can all of the above be found within 150 miles of a central location, with most of it being within a comfortable 75-mile radius?

Currently, only one national laboratory comes close to what I propose: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory located near Golden, Colorado — a place with no ocean, no rivers, and no volcanoes, but with a lot of wind and sunshine. It was founded in 1977 as the Solar Research Institute, and was renamed in September 1991 when it was designated a national laboratory. NREL currently has approximately 1,000 full-time employees, of whom 47% are scientists and 42% are engineers. NREL had funding totaling $378.4 million in 2007. Its overall campus covers 327 acres, of which 136 acres are developed and 191 acres remain open space.

*Regarding NREL:*
*Regarding Arlie & Company (click on: "projects" then "college park"):*
*Potentially Active Volcanoes in the 48 United States:*
*Hot Springs in Oregon:*
*Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI):*
*Green Chemistry at the University of Oregon:*
*Green Architecture at the University of Oregon:*
*Oregon State University Wave Research:*
*Oregon Biomass Energy:*

* * *

The first national laboratories were born out of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, which was formed in 1946. Argonne became the first national laboratory on July 1,1946. What became Argonne had existed previously as a smaller lab since December 2, 1942. By comparison, Brookhaven came into being in 1946 when nine major eastern universities formed a nonprofit corporation to establish a new nuclear-science facility, and on March 21, 1947, Brookhaven became a national laboratory. Reading the histories of the different national laboratories describes a process of forming that differs from lab to lab.

The Fermilab was commissioned by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission under a bill signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on November 21, 1967, so it is possible to establish a new national laboratory from scratch through an Act of Congress if a compelling national need can be identified and addressed.

* * *

How much energy is inside of the Earth? According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the energy released from the lateral blast when Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980, was 24 megatons of thermal energy (7 by the blast itself, and the rest through release of heat).

A 1-megaton weapon would have the energy equivalent of 1 million tons of TNT, and 1 bomb with a yield of 1 megaton would destroy 80 square miles.

The positive uses of thermal energy are now being developed. Consider:

What I wonder is if the danger of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes can be reduced or eliminated if technologies can be developed to actively and efficiently release the deep energy within the Earth in ways that can generate useful power. As it is, the security of the United States is vulnerable to planet Earth. If the super-volcano at Yellowstone National Park erupts again or if the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812 happen again, our nation will experience unparalleled widespread devastation that will dwarf what happened during and after Hurricane Katrina.

It becomes a question of priorities. Consider:
Excerpt: "NASA has projected that costs for its human lunar exploration program and robotic support missions will total about $95 billion between 2005 and 2020--or roughly $66 billion for human exploration and $29 billion for robotic support missions."

By comparison, consider the current funding of earthquake research by the USGS:
Excerpt: "The USGS is awarding $5 million in grants and cooperative agreements in 2009 for earthquake research. Funding will go to 84 recipients, including universities, state geological surveys and private firms. In addition, applications are being accepted for up to $7 million in grants and cooperative agreements for earthquake research in 2010. "These grants underscore once again the importance to our nation of the earth science work accomplished by the USGS," Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said. "Earthquakes are one of the most costly natural hazards faced by the nation, posing a risk to 75 million Americans in 39 states."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Legal Co-Equal: A Solution For Everyone

Legal Co-Equals (L.Co-E)

By Steven A. Sylwester
November 11, 2009

The following proposes a universal change to American law that would effectively move the desired status of those who want to share their personal rights with another person to a new neutral ground that is inclusive of all adult citizens to the benefit of the general society. As a result, the current debate that rages in America over marriage and its rights could become moot, because the essential demand for an inclusive change would be met by this proposal. However, just as importantly, the long-time historical definition of marriage would remain fully intact as is for those to whom it matters.


At age 18 (or whenever legal adulthood is defined by marriage, emancipation, or state law), every adult citizen of the United States shall be allowed to designate one other adult U.S. citizen as his/her Legal Co-Equal (L.Co-E). The L.Co-E designation shall be legally binding throughout the U.S., and shall be placed on a confidential registry maintained by the U.S. Social Security offices. Police agencies, the courts, and all licensed hospitals and medical centers shall have access to the registry at all times, and shall be given sufficient identifiers to verify the status of anyone who claims to be a L.Co-E.

Every adult citizen shall be entitled to name just one L.Co-E, but any one person might be the designated L.Co-E for many others. For example, a parent might be the mutually designated L.Co-E for a spouse, and also the designated L.Co-E for several of his/her adult children and for his/her widowed mother and for his/her childhood best friend. No one can be designated the L.Co-E for another except by agreed upon notarized consent, and L.Co-E designations can be ended at any time by either party without legal recourse. L.Co-E designation is rightly thought of as a gift, not a contract.

Furthermore, L.Co-E designations are one-directional, meaning the person making the designation is entitling the designated other to his/her personal rights without necessarily receiving the same entitlements in return. Though most people who co-habit will probably choose to share mutual L.Co-E designations with each other, they shall not be required to do so by law.

A person’s L.Co-E could be any adult: a spouse or life partner, a friend, a parent, a child, a sibling, a distant relative, an acquaintance, a co-worker, a neighbor, someone of the same sex, someone of the opposite sex — anyone who is an adult U.S. citizen. There is no expectation whatsoever that a person’s L.Co-E is someone with whom physical intimacies are shared. L.Co-E designations do not concern sexuality or the expression of sexuality, do not suggest or in any way require co-habitation or an obligation to physical intimacy, and do not refer to love or exclusive fidelity in legal documentation; L.Co-E designation is something legal: it is without emotion and without any religious affiliations, allegiances, or beliefs whatsoever.

L.Co-E designation is not the equivalent of being legally married. For example, L.Co-E designation will not entitle someone to group health insurance benefits. Also, L.Co-E designation will not entitle someone to yearly tax benefits. But the L.Co-E benefits that shall exist from the start are many, and are substantial in some cases. Also, more benefits could be added over time because the L.Co-E mechanism will be in place to easily accommodate new benefits that are deemed reasonable and desired by the populace.

L.Co-E designation shall have these benefit rights:

1. Confidential privacy rights that cannot be broken by court order or legal summons, meaning L.Co-E designation absolutely protects someone from being made to testify in court or in deposition against his/her L.Co-E.
2. First-in-line direct inheritance rights in the absence of an overriding legal will, meaning L.Co-E designation grants full unshared and uncontestable inheritance rights in the case of someone dying without a will, including the right to pension benefits that are not limited to a surviving spouse.
3. Automatic full power of attorney in the case of either temporary or permanent mental incapacity in the absence of an overriding power of attorney document, meaning L.Co-E designation automatically grants all power of attorney rights necessary for legal decision-making when mental incapacitation occurs.
4. Automatic guardianship rights regarding an orphaned minor child in the absence of a will that designates a guardian when there is no surviving biological parent who makes a claim to parental rights, meaning L.Co-E designation automatically grants indisputable guardianship rights regarding an orphaned child who is either a biological child or an adopted child when a legal parent dies. The guardianship is not legal adoption, though the guardianship rights shall include first-refusal rights concerning a legal adoption of the orphaned child.
5. Hospital visitation rights that are the equivalent of the hospital visitation rights now given to the closest family members, meaning L.Co-E designation grants hospital visitation rights that are only superseded by the rights of a physician and any accompanying medical personnel to be alone with the patient, and by the rights of a hospital to establish visiting hours.
6. Medical decision making rights in the absence of any overriding legal documents that grant those rights to others, meaning L.Co-E designation grants rights of approval and disapproval for all physician-recommended treatments and procedures when the patient is incapacitated, including operations and the stopping of life supports. Also, L.Co-E designation grants the right to voice physician directives according to the will of the incapacitated patient.
7. After life decision making rights in the absence of an overriding legal will that describes after-life directives, meaning L.Co-E designation grants the rights to decide on burial or cremation in every regard and respect if someone else has not been designated to make those decisions and if those decisions were left unmade by the deceased.

L.Co-E designation does not pertain in any way to contractual obligations of any sort, including purchase agreements and/or debt obligations of any type. L.Co-E designation does not create co-signer obligations or any other financial obligations in any circumstance. If two people who share mutual L.Co-E designations enter into financial agreements of any sort together, those contracts exist and are made outside of any L.Co-E benefit rights, and do not pertain to their L.Co-E designations in any way. Clearly, this distinction in part describes what separates spousal rights from L.Co-E rights.

In this age we now live in where most people are employed outside the home, L.Co-E designations might be sufficient replacements for marriage certificates for many couples. The seven benefit rights described above are not necessarily the only rights granted by L.Co-E designations, but they are the basic rights from which other more specific rights would originate.

Though L.Co-E designations will likely replace legal marriage relationships in many cases, the intent is certainly not to end marriage as a social institution. Nor is the intent to create a separate-but-equal opportunity for same-sex couples. Very specifically and very importantly, L.Co-E designations are for all adult U.S. citizens, including those who are single and unattached.

The fight for same-sex marriage has unwittingly made it socially acceptable to discriminate against those who are single, either by choice or because they are unable to find a mate. Why should the L.Co-E designation benefit rights described above be limited to couples? Answer: They should not. Every adult U.S. citizen — married, coupled, single, divorced, or widowed — deserves the personal dignity that would be legally granted by a L.Co-E designation: everyone deserves one unpaid confidant to whom every secret can be told and upon whom every blessing can be bestowed without the interference of the courts and/or the reappearance of unwelcome family members who have become estranged.

Ultimately, adults are entitled to autonomy, and to the personal sovereignty of their own choosing — and that choosing should be as easy as signing one notarized document granting Legal Co-Equal designation to another adult. The inherent good to the general society of this proposal cannot be overstated. Certainly, the various police agencies, the courts, and all licensed hospitals and medical centers would sing its praises, as would most single people and all same-sex couples. The proposal does not attack the institution of marriage in any way. Rather, it augments marriage by ensuring to married couples in a simple fashion some rights that are now best ensured by expensive attorney interventions.

Establishing Legal Co-Equal designations is not the last answer, but it might be the first answer for those who want to reorder American society to achieve a greater common good. Defiant same-sex marriage proponents might fight against it, but they would be wrong to do so. Defiant traditional marriage defenders might too fight against it, but they too would be wrong to do so. The proposal discriminates against no one while benefiting everyone, which is the stuff of God’s grace — and who can be against that?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences: An Obama Initiative

The following idea was originally named Linus Pauling Academy of the Physical Sciences in a document written by Steven A. Sylwester dated April 6, 2009. The original document was "An Obama Initiative for The United States of America" as is this new document.

For the most part, the original document and the new document are the same except for the name change, though some extraneous information has been edited out. The six-page APPENDIX in the original document has been omitted. However, the APPENDIX is available upon request.

I have renamed the academy NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences (NAPS) for five reasons:
1. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a United States government agency with an annual budget exceeding $17 billion. The annual federal funding projected for NAPS in the following document is $61.2 million, which is an amount that could easily hide inside the NASA budget without causing alarm.
2. NASA already has developed resources that effectively lobby the U.S. government for ongoing and increased funding as needed. Those resources include NASA's Education Coordinating Committee (ECC), which is chaired by Dr. Joyce Leavitt Winterton, NASA's Assistant Administrator for Education.
3. NASA has an ongoing need to develop homegrown mathematicians, scientists, and engineers, so taking ownership of NAPS would certainly be in NASA's self-interest.
4. The dream of being involved in space exploration is a common dream among many young people who are gifted in mathematics and the sciences. The opportunity to become a NASA Scholar in my proposed NAPS program would inspire many young people to focus their studies in mathematics and the sciences from a young age, and to work hard at excelling academically.
5. If NASA actually managed NAPS, it could create summer internship opportunities for NASA Scholars between their junior and senior years in high school. Being a summer intern at NASA would certainly inspire many NASA Scholars to pursue NASA careers. Consequently, NASA could recruit select NASA Scholars right out of high school, and thereby influence if not outright direct the higher education choices of those recruits.

Steven A. Sylwester

Dr. Joyce Leavitt Winterton, NASA's Assistant Administrator for Education, directs the development and implementation of the agency's education programs that strengthen student involvement and public awareness of its scientific goals and missions. In this role, she leads the agency in inspiring interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, as few other organizations can through its unique mission, workforce, facilities, research and innovations.

As Assistant Administrator for Education, Winterton chairs the Education Coordinating Committee, an agency-wide collaborative structure that maximizes NASA's ability to manage and implement its education portfolio. The ECC works to ensure that the agency's education investments are focused on supporting the nation's education efforts to develop the skilled workforce necessary to achieve the agency's goals and objectives.

* * *

… Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. … We will restore science to its rightful place, … We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

… What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

>> Excerpts from President Barack Obama’s inaugural address, January 20, 2009

An Obama Initiative for The United States of America:

Establish and fund a NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences
three-year public high school at 150 public research universities (three per state)

Enroll 34 students as sophomores per academy per year
and designate the students NASA Scholars

By Steven A. Sylwester
November 3, 2009

This NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences proposal attempts to help prepare future generations of scientists to make world-changing discoveries in all existing science disciplines, and in new science disciplines yet to be discovered. Young people with ambitions to work in the many new nanotechnology fields will be well prepared for their future university studies by the NAPS curriculum.

NAPS will establish a universal curriculum with the acronym CPCPC, which describes “Computer Programming, Chemistry, Physics, and Calculus.” Though NAPS does not provide any instruction in biology, the curriculum will fulfill the major requirements in chemistry, mathematics, and physics for those graduates who will seek a university bachelor degree in biology.

This Obama Initiative will provide a special opportunity for 5,100 of the most gifted sophomores being educated in America’s public high schools every year. Including the juniors and seniors who continue in a NAPS until graduation, no more than 15,300 students will every year be the direct recipients of this opportunity, but millions of other high school students will every year receive indirect benefits that will improve their math and science education as a consequence of this initiative.

Each state will every year spend 85% of its average per high school student per year expenditure for each of its NASA Scholars to fund its in-state NAPS academies, and the U.S. government will add $4,000 per student per year funding to each of the 150 NAPS academies nationwide for a total federal funding of $61.2 million per year. The states will be obligated to collect their 15% per student per year expenditure savings into a Science Education Fund that will be exhausted every year through the issuing of major grants to upgrade public high school science classrooms with new computer technology, new laboratory equipment, and/or general facility improvements. The grants will range in size from $20,000 to $50,000 each, and will be awarded by a three-person review committee comprised of one science professor from each of the three public research universities where the in-state NAPS academies are sited. If a state expends $8,500 per high school student per year, its SEF will collect and then spend out $390,150 per year, which could result in 19 grants of $20,534 each.

After the awarding of SEF grants every year, the state governors will consider the merits of all unfunded grant requests for their individual state, and will forward all deserving requests to in-state private industry leaders for their consideration and possible patronage. Special corporate tax credits will be given to companies that fund SEF grant requests. If the SEF grant review committee recommends improvements to particular requests along with encouragement to request a grant the following year (for example, if the request was for equipment that is being made obsolete by new technology), those recommendations will remain attached to the unfunded requests that are forwarded to industry leaders.

States with more than three public universities will select the three universities that: 1) have the largest population base within an established to-and-from daily commute using public mass transit, and 2) do federally funded research on topics associated with gifted learning. All site universities should propose and do research that will improve the NAPS academies over time while also maximizing the benefits that can be had by other schools. Grant money from both federal and private sources will support select research over time.

Three states have fewer than three public universities each: Delaware (two), Rhode Island (two), and Wyoming (one). The four NAPS academies not established in those three states will be assigned to California, thereby giving California a total of seven NAPS academies.

If any states choose not to participate in this initiative, those states will permanently forfeit their entitled NAPS academies to other states that desire more NAPS academies. The U.S. Secretary of Education will permanently reassign to other states any NAPS academies that are forfeited.

1. Starting no later than 7th grade, public schools should accelerate the learning of those students who display an extraordinary aptitude in math and science.
2. Mathematics is the first language of the sciences and chemistry is the second, and physics is a dialect shared by both. Ideally, the physical sciences should be learned before the life sciences; understanding chemistry and physics first makes understanding biology easier afterwards.
3. Knowing computer technology and being skilled in its use is now indispensable for laboratory work in the sciences.
4. The world has changed. The basic body of knowledge that is now required learning for scientists has become enormous, and continues to grow every day. Therefore, high school should be an uninterrupted time for defined, intensive learning in math and the sciences for would-be scientists and mathematicians.
5. Mid-teenagers are capable of hard, sustained intellectual effort far beyond what is normally expected of them.
6. Ultimately, science is more a disciplined method of investigation and discovery to become skilled at than it is a body of factual knowledge to be learned; for scientists, science is something that is done. Therefore, NASA Scholars should be taught more so as apprentices than as students; they should learn to both think-and-do and think-and-know — to become explorers and discoverers, not just experts on what is already known.

Plainly Stated:
As one considers this initiative, two Albert Einstein quotes should be kept in mind:
"Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler."
"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
Simplicity. Imagination. Knowledge.

Malcolm Gladwell speaking about genius:

The First Model:
NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences
at The University of Oregon

The University of Oregon (UO) is located in Eugene at the southern end of the Willamette Valley, approximately 105 miles south of Portland. Springfield is Eugene’s sister city, separated neatly north-and-south by I-5 and in part by the Willamette River. As of 2007, Eugene-Springfield Metro Area's population is 337,870 people. Eugene is the county seat of Lane County, and is located geographically mid-county. Lane Transit District (LTD), which is a mass transit bus system that has a central hub in downtown Eugene just nine blocks away from the UO campus, serves much of Lane County with a schedule that makes morning/evening commutes possible.

The UO is a public research university and a member of the Association of American Universities, one of only two such universities in the greater Northwest. It has a total enrollment of 20,376 students: 16,681 undergraduates and 3,695 graduates. It has 1,714 faculty members, and a Faculty-to-Student Ratio of 1:18.

The NASA Academy of the Physical Science (NAPS) concept is easy to pioneer at the UO because: 1) it works neatly there with already established programs, and 2) the significantly countywide model creates a workable ideal for other locales nationwide. The overriding purpose should be clear: the specific task of NAPS academies is to educate high school students who are gifted in mathematics and the sciences.

For many years, the UO and Eugene School District 4J have partnered in Duck Link, a program that allows public high school juniors and seniors to earn up to 8 college credits per term by taking classes at the UO that are not offered at their high school. In a general case, 8 credits equals two classes. In the Duck Link program, the student pays only applicable fees and the cost of books and supplies; the UO tuition is free.

The Duck Link program has one logistical flaw: the UO and District 4J schools have different term schedules and different daily class schedules, which makes participation in the Duck Link program extremely difficult if not impossible for most students. The solution is to establish a NAPS on the UO campus as a day school for NASA Scholars, and to operate it on the same schedules as the UO.

When Oregon Public Education Law and Lane Transit District bus routes are considered together, an opportunity to make Duck Link available to the 13 public high schools in Lane County that have public transportation access to the UO is revealed. Joining District 4J’s four high schools (Churchill, North Eugene, Sheldon, and South Eugene) in having access to Duck Link are the high schools from the following school districts: Bethel 52 (Willamette), Fern Ridge 28J (Elmira), Junction City 69 (Junction City), Lowell 71 (Lowell), McKenzie 68 (McKenzie), Pleasant Hill 1 (Pleasant Hill), South Lane 45J (Cottage Grove), and Springfield 19 (two schools: Springfield and Thurston).

To share in Duck Link, all nine school districts mentioned must consort together with the UO in an arrangement that meets the approval of both the Oregon Department of Education and Susan Castillo, Oregon State Superintendent of Public Instruction. But, according to Oregon law, approval can be granted along with any necessary and appropriate waivers. If the NAPS concept is adopted nationwide, a universal standard will surely be established, perhaps with special diploma recognitions.

Though there are existing public high schools in the United States that limit their enrollment by establishing minimum academic standards; by requiring superior performance on assorted admission tests of proficiencies, intelligence, and knowledge; and by specializing their instruction in mathematics, the laboratory sciences, and technology, NAPS will be different in some respects. Most other public high schools for gifted math and science students have their own campuses, and many are residential schools. NAPS academies will be day schools on public university campuses with maybe only a building hallway or a building floor to call its own. The Duck Link model at the core of the NAPS curriculum will maintain its established innovative concept, which is simply stated: the high school students take university classes with university students on a university campus.

Duck Link has a limit of 8 college credits per term for high school students because a full-time UO student is defined as someone who takes a minimum of 12 college credits per term. Legally maintaining the status of “high school student” until graduation is important because that status is what qualifies students for significant scholarships to colleges and universities. Therefore, NASA Scholars will generally take 8 credits per term from the UO Course Catalog every term throughout their junior and senior years, and will take the remainder of their classes from the NAPS Course Catalog to fulfill their state high school graduation requirements.

NAPS will be a three-year public high school; all of its students will attend a regional high school as freshmen, and will enter NAPS as sophomores and continue there as juniors and seniors. As freshmen, all students seeking admission to NAPS will be required to earn “A” grades in both Geometry (or a math class more advanced than Geometry) and regular Chemistry, to score in acceptable ranges on the national PSAT, and to pass other tests that will demonstrate their mastery of reading comprehension skills and writing skills above high minimum standards. Finally, they will undergo an interview process to test their emotional maturity and their ability to handle stress in a university environment. Everything possible will be done to select for enrollment only those students who will thrive and succeed at NAPS.

NAPS will have a small enrollment, targeting 34 students per grade level. Currently, the 13 public high schools mentioned above together enroll 12,162 students, which means there are approximately 3,040 students per grade level. According to the Oregon Talented and Gifted Education Act standards, TAG students are the top 3% of all students: the intellectually gifted and academically talented students who score at or above the 97th percentile on select nationally standardized tests. Therefore, each grade level in the 13 high schools combined has approximately 91 TAG students. But all TAG students are not the same; many have dominant interests in subjects other than math and the sciences, even though they might excel in all academic areas. For example, TAG students who are deeply involved in music, theater, and/or athletics at their regional high school will not be interested in NAPS.

In the end, targeting to enroll 37% of the TAG students is reasonable, especially when the final mix of those seeking admission to NAPS will also include some students who home school and some who attend Marist Catholic High School. In a year in which equal distribution is accomplished, students will come to NAPS in the following pattern: 15 from the four Eugene high schools combined, 9 from the two Springfield high schools combined, 4 from Willamette High School, 2 from Cottage Grove High School, and 4 from Elmira, Junction City, Lowell, McKenzie, and Pleasant Hill high schools combined.

To offer a measure of scale, the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the UO enrolls 175 freshmen students into its four-year program every year, and the entire college (in terms of dedicated office, classroom, and student space) is located on the third floor of Chapman Hall. In its entirety, NAPS will be less than 15% of the size of the CHC.

NAPS will define its curriculum requirements by following the common requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree in the disciplines of biology, chemistry, and physics. When requiring outside of its own discipline, each discipline minimally requires General Chemistry (CH 221, 222, 223), General Physics (PHYS 201, 202, 203), and Calculus I, II, III (MATH 251, 252, 253), except biology does not require Calculus III. Therefore, NAPS will recognize mathematics as the first language of the sciences, and will require students to continue math instruction at least through Calculus III. Furthermore, NAPS will recognize the primary importance of both chemistry and physics to all the sciences, and will require all sophomores to enroll in Advanced Placement Chemistry, and all students to simultaneously enroll in calculus-based Foundations of Physics I (PHYS 251, 252, 253) when they take Calculus I, II, III (MATH 251, 252, 253). Finally, NAPS will recognize the essential use of computers in all laboratory science disciplines, and will provide computer-programming instruction to all sophomores sufficient to meet all prerequisites for Computer Science I, II, III (CIS 210, 211, 212).

The UO awards 12 credits and recognizes the equivalency of General Chemistry (CH 221, 222, 223) for all high school students who score a “4” or a “5” on the national AP Chemistry test. But the UO does not recognize the high school chemistry laboratory experience as being sufficient preparation for Organic Chemistry I (CH 331), and consequently requires all students who want to advance in chemistry to minimally take three terms of General Chemistry Laboratory (CH 227, 228, 229) before beginning the Organic Chemistry sequence. Therefore, the UO will provide university-level chemistry laboratory instruction to all NAPS sophomores in conjunction with their AP Chemistry class to qualify NAPS juniors to enroll in Organic Chemistry if they so choose.

As juniors, NAPS students will separate into three groups according to their interests. Those who are especially advanced in math will take the Foundations of Physics I sequence and the Calculus sequence throughout the school year [total UO credits per term: 8, 8, 8]. A second group will take Organic Chemistry I, II, III (CH 331, 335, 336); Organic Chemistry Laboratory (337, 338); and Organic Analysis (CH 339) [total UO credits per term: 7, 7, 8]. A third group will take Computer Science I, II, III and Elements of Discrete Mathematics I, II, III (MATH 231, 232, 233) [total UO credits per term: 8, 8, 8].
(See class schedule charts below)

As seniors, the especially advanced math students who are interested in physics will take Foundations of Physics II (PHYS 351, 352, 353), Introduction to Differential Equations (MATH 256), and Several-Variable Calculus I, II (MATH 281, 282) [total UO credits per term: 8, 8, 8]. Those interested in mathematics only will take Elementary Analysis (MATH 315) and Elementary Linear Algebra (MATH 341, 342) instead of Foundations of Physics II [total UO credits per term: 8, 8, 8]. The rest of the NAPS seniors will take the Foundations of Physics I sequence and the Calculus sequence [total UO credits per term: 8, 8, 8]. Though Duck Link limitations do not allow earning more than 8 college credits per term, students in Foundations of Physics I might audit Foundations of Physics Laboratory (PHYS 290) [1 credit per term], and those in Foundations of Physics II might audit Intermediate Physics Laboratory (PHYS 390) [1-2 credits per term].

Without exception, the only UO courses to be taken by NASA Scholars will be those mentioned above. All other coursework will be “high school” classes within the exclusive confines of NAPS to fulfill state high school graduation requirements.

A careful read of the above reveals one glaring quirk: “the third group” takes Elements of Discrete Mathematics I, II, III as a for-credit UO course while the other groups will take an equivalent pre-calculus “high school” course within NAPS. This oddity occurs because Elements of Discrete Mathematics I, II, III is co-required for Computer and Information Science majors who are enrolled in Computer Science I, II, III. Similarly, the math courses taken with Foundations of Physics I and with Foundations of Physics II are co-required.

NAPS focuses on the “foundations” courses in physics for its students for three reasons: 1) NASA Scholars are gifted; 2) the foundations courses are math-based at calculus and above, and therefore provide understandable applications in physics that make it easier to learn calculus; and 3) the foundations courses do not fill up.

NAPS is viable only if its cost of operation as a school is affordable to the state, and it is certainly affordable if its UO expense is largely invisible and essentially free. After the UO’s Fall Term 2008 registration was completed, the following spaces were still available: Organic Chemistry I — 133 out of 400; Organic Chemistry Laboratory — 42 out of 248; Foundations of Physics I — 13 out of 134; Foundations of Physics II — 11 out of 48; Computer Science I — 24 out of 110; Elements of Discrete Mathematics I — 8 out of 100; Calculus I — 52 out of 352; and Introduction to Differential Equations — 14 out of 72.

Remember, NAPS has a target enrollment of 34 students per grade level. If the UO’s Fall Term 2008 registration was usual, then only Foundations of Physics I and Elements of Discrete Mathematics I seem likely to be over-filled in future terms by enrollment from NAPS if another section is not added in each case. So, in the general case, NASA Scholars will simply fill available spaces that are currently going unfilled in courses that are being taught anyway, despite under-enrollment.

NAPS will teach AP Chemistry according to the UO model: in this case, a general lecture to all 34 students and an accompanying separate AP Chemistry laboratory class that has three sections, with a maximum enrollment of 12 students per section. At the UO, Organic Chemistry Laboratory (CH 337) sections have a maximum enrollment of 13 students each, and Advanced General Chemistry Laboratory (CH 237) sections have a maximum enrollment of 11 students each.

Excluding the UO faculty for the above-mentioned courses, NAPS will function with just four “high school” teachers: a teacher for AP Chemistry (who will also teach math), a teacher for basic computer programming and math through pre-calculus, a teacher for AP Economics and AP U.S. History, and a teacher for AP English Language and AP English Literature. NAPS will have no electives in its “high school” curriculum. Except that some students will be especially advanced in math and will take calculus as juniors, all NAPS classmates will take the same “high school” classes every year. As stated above, NAPS juniors will separate into three groups according their interests regarding their UO Duck Link classes.

It is very important to note that pushing enrollment above 34 NASA Scholars per grade level risks two bad outcomes: 1) having to have more than four “high school” teachers per NAPS, and 2) having to teach more than one section of the shared “high school” classes. An enrollment of 34 scholars per grade level is an outer limit that is doable only because it is reasonable to expect a well-behaved, productive classroom from 34 highly intelligent students who are motivated to be there. If any enrollment adjustment were made, it would be down to 24 scholars per grade level.

NAPS will put an enormous academic and emotional strain on its NASA Scholars, especially during the junior year. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that each and every scholar can relate in a genuine supportive way with his/her classmate scholars especially, but also with scholars from the other two grade levels and with the “high school” teachers. Because emotional maturity is not always on a par with intellectual maturity, gifted adolescents in the transition to adulthood need friends who can understand them. Gifted adolescents are adolescents at risk who are sometimes very vulnerable to social challenges, and they tend to know this about themselves. But, in usual settings, they are alone with their fears. NAPS academies will have the opportunity to create a safe haven in which truly extraordinary young people can experience what it feels like to be ordinary, at least during the while when they are among peer classmates; the importance of this cannot be overstated: a NAPS site will either succeed or fail in its primary purpose by whether or not it can succeed in making its scholars feel ordinary.

The “high school” AP classes will be standard according to national AP standards.

As seniors, NAPS students will have a year-long colloquy on the philosophical subject of “Morality, Ethics & Society: Science & Technology in the 21st Century” that will be team-led by the four “high school” teachers, and that will include talks with UO professors who are willing to participate. Though the colloquy will carry no academic weight and will be Pass/No Pass, it will be a culmination experience that could be defining for NAPS graduates in a very meaningful way. Ultimately, NAPS wants to graduate people who have learned to think deep thoughts from a human point-of-view that is informed by moral and ethical considerations concerning both the individual and society. NAPS will strive to connect its NASA Scholars to math and science while also connecting them to humanity and all that defines life.

The colloquy will be the only “high school” class during the senior year. Also, it will be the only NAPS “high school” class that will be structured as a project-based group learning experience. The lesser academic schedule during the senior year affords time and energy for three things: 1) to fully consider college/university opportunities and make scholarship applications, 2) to work on a UO science research team, and/or 3) to enter national mathematics and science competitions.

The NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences Colloquy:

The Prize: The Linus Pauling Medal

Linus Pauling is the most famous and influential U.S.A.-born scientist in world history. He is one of only two people to have won more than one Nobel Prize in different fields, and the only person to win two undivided Nobel Prizes. Pauling was included in a list of the 20 greatest scientists of all time by the magazine New Scientist, with Albert Einstein being the only other scientist from the twentieth century on the list.

Linus Pauling received the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances. Also, he received the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in peace and disarmament campaigns establishing The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

When he was 16 years old, Linus Pauling left Washington High School in Portland, Oregon, without graduating (the principal would not waive a civics class) to enroll at Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University), from which he graduated in 1922 with a degree in chemical engineering. In 1925, Pauling received his doctorate degree, summa cum laude, in chemistry, with minors in physics and mathematics, from the California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech).

During his career, Linus Pauling applied quantum mechanics to the study of molecular structures and discovered the helix structure in proteins. Francis Crick, who discovered the structure of DNA with James Watson, acknowledged Pauling as “the father of molecular biology."

The physical sciences — chemistry and physics — are considered to be the foundation sciences for the life sciences: biology and its offshoots. Linus Pauling studied chemistry, physics, and mathematics, and then made world-changing discoveries in biology.

Linus Pauling was born February 28, 1901, in Portland, Oregon. He died August 19, 1994, in Big Sur, California. He was a scientist, peace activist, author, and educator. He is especially renowned as one of the most influential chemists in the history of science.

The NAPS Colloquy honors Linus Pauling.

The UO school year has three terms: fall, winter, and spring. Each term is ten weeks long (plus finals week). The colloquy described is designed for that format.

Topic: Morality, Ethics & Society: Science & Technology in the 21st Century
Fall Term: U.S. Constitution Amendment Proposal
Winter Term: World Treaty Proposal
Spring Term: Philosophy of Science and Technology Definition Statement

The Challenge: Experience group effort and productive political compromise

Each term starts with a self-identification of seven different groups with no fewer than four members each who then begin the task of negotiating intra-group to define and develop that term’s proposal or statement. Each group works independently and develops its proposal without regard for any other group’s proposal, and is only limited by the general topic for the term.

At least once every week if possible, a UO professor gives a short presentation on a generally related topic during a class session, and then remains for discussion. At least once every week, each group gives a brief description of its proposal as-is, and responds to three minutes of questioning.

After three weeks, the original seven groups somehow meld into five groups of no fewer than five members each.

After six weeks, the then five groups somehow meld into three groups of no fewer than nine members each.

After eight weeks, all restrictions regarding the number of groups and their size are lifted.

During the two-hour Final session, each remaining group gives a five-minute presentation of its finished proposal or statement to the entire class. After each group has presented, the teachers openly question the proposals in a fitting manner. After the questioning, each scholar casts two anonymous votes: one for the best proposal or statement, and one for the most influential NASA Scholar during the colloquy that term.

The colloquy is Pass/No Pass, except the teachers may award up to seven Linus Pauling Medals at their discretion. The colloquy should be at once both fun and maddening, yet serious and thought provoking. It is intended as a tribute to the Nobel Peace Prize won by Linus Pauling, and serves to reveal the political process through firsthand experience.


It is very rare that a high school freshman ever takes trigonometry, but it does happen. Every year, NAPS will establish its class schedules according to the scheduling needs of its most advanced incoming scholars: those who have already taken trigonometry

SOPHOMORE YEAR: Advanced Mathematics Scholars Only
Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
NAPS: Advanced Placement English Language
Fall: Grammar, Sentence Structure & Poetry
Winter: Prose, Short Story & Journalism Writing
Spring: Essay & Composition Writing
NAPS: Advanced Placement United States History
Fall: 1700s
Winter: 1800s
Spring: 1900s
NAPS: Advanced Placement Chemistry and Laboratory
UO: Computer Science
Fall: I: CIS 210 (4 credits)
Winter: II: CIS 211 (4 credits)
Spring: III: CIS 212 (4 credits)
UO: Elements of Discrete Mathematics
Fall: I: MATH 231 (4 credits)
Winter: II: MATH 232 (4 credits)
Spring: III: MATH 233 (4 credits)

JUNIOR YEAR: Advanced Mathematics Scholars Only
Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
NAPS: Advanced Placement English Literature
NAPS: Advanced Placement Economics
Fall: Microeconomics
Winter: Macroeconomics
Spring: Game Theory
UO: Calculus
Fall: I: MATH 251 (4 credits)
Winter: II: MATH 252 (4 credits)
Spring: III: MATH 253 (4 credits)
UO: Foundations of Physics I
Fall: PHYS 251 (4 credits)
Winter: PHYS 252 (4 credits)
Spring: PHYS 253 (4 credits)

SENIOR YEAR: Advanced Mathematics Scholars Only >> Physics Major
Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
UO: Foundations of Physics II
Fall: PHYS 351 (4 credits)
Winter: PHYS 352 (4 credits)
Spring: PHYS 353 (4 credits)
Fall: Intro Differential Equations: MATH 256 (4 credits)
Winter: Several-Variable Calculus I: MATH 281 (4 credits)
Spring: Several-Variable Calculus II: MATH 282 (4 credits)
NAPS: Colloquy: Morality, Ethics & Society: Science & Technology in the 21st Century
Fall: U.S. Constitution Amendment Proposal
Winter: World Treaty Proposal
Spring: Philosophy of Science and Technology Definition Statement

SENIOR YEAR: Advanced Mathematics Scholars Only >> Mathematics Major
Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
Fall: Intro Differential Equations: MATH 256 (4 credits)
Winter: Several-Variable Calculus I: MATH 281 (4 credits)
Spring: Several-Variable Calculus II: MATH 282 (4 credits)
Fall: Elementary Analysis: MATH 315 (4 credits)
Winter: Elementary Linear Algebra: MATH 341 (4 credits)
Spring: Elementary Linear Algebra: MATH 342 (4 credits)
NAPS: Colloquy: Morality, Ethics & Society: Science & Technology in the 21st Century
Fall: U.S. Constitution Amendment Proposal
Winter: World Treaty Proposal
Spring: Philosophy of Science and Technology Definition Statement

Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
NAPS: Advanced Placement English Language
Fall: Grammar, Sentence Structure & Poetry
Winter: Prose, Short Story & Journalism Writing
Spring: Essay & Composition Writing
NAPS: Advanced Placement United States History
Fall: 1700s
Winter: 1800s
Spring: 1900s
NAPS: Advanced Placement Chemistry and Laboratory
NAPS: Mathematics
NAPS: Computer Programming

JUNIOR YEAR: Computer Science Major
Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
NAPS: Advanced Placement English Literature
NAPS: Advanced Placement Economics
Fall: Microeconomics
Winter: Macroeconomics
Spring: Game Theory
UO: Computer Science
Fall: I: CIS 210 (4 credits)
Winter: II: CIS 211 (4 credits)
Spring: III: CIS 212 (4 credits)
UO: Elements of Discrete Mathematics
Fall: I: MATH 231 (4 credits)
Winter: II: MATH 232 (4 credits)
Spring: III: MATH 233 (4 credits)

JUNIOR YEAR: Chemistry Major
Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
NAPS: Advanced Placement English Literature
NAPS: Advanced Placement Economics
Fall: Microeconomics
Winter: Macroeconomics
Spring: Game Theory
NAPS: Mathematics
UO: Organic Chemistry
Fall: I: CH 331 (4 credits)
Winter: II: CH 335 (4 credits)
Spring: III: CH 336 (4 credits)
Fall: Organic Chem Laboratory: CH 337 (3 credits)
Winter: Organic Chem Laboratory: CH 338 (3 credits)
Spring: Organic Analysis: CH 339 (4 credits)

Fall Term Winter Term Spring Term
UO: Calculus
Fall: I: MATH 251 (4 credits)
Winter: II: MATH 252 (4 credits)
Spring: III: MATH 253 (4 credits)
UO: Foundations of Physics I
Fall: PHYS 251 (4 credits)
Winter: PHYS 252 (4 credits)
Spring: PHYS 253 (4 credits)
NAPS: Colloquy: Morality, Ethics & Society: Science & Technology in the 21st Century
Fall: U.S. Constitution Amendment Proposal
Winter: World Treaty Proposal
Spring: Philosophy of Science and Technology Definition Statement