Monday, December 12, 2011

This Deserves a MacArthur Genius Award

This web address can also be accessed at:

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I dedicate the following to my mother Ruth Eileen Maier Sylwester on the occasion of her 79th birthday today, December 12, 2011. I am the second oldest of her eight children, the seven who made it into this life and the one who did not. Though I was born from her without a left hand on June 12, 1954, she has always been my friend when I needed a friend, and I love her dearly. During her time as the stay-at-home mother of six boys and one girl, and then again later during her professional career as a public school librarian (a career she interrupted for awhile to be her own boss as the owner and operator of a university campus bookstore), she was often cantankerous and combative with her strong opinions on things, and she thereby demonstrated to me that one should think and do according to what ought to be thought and done, not according to convention or majority vote, no matter the consequence.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32 NIV

Thanks be to God

Steven A. Sylwester

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In the following, I propose two amendments to the United States Constitution: Amendment XXVIII (28): Identifying Certain Corporations as Foreign Nations, and Amendment XXIX (29): U.S. 1% Ownership of Protected Intellectual Property. Currently, the U.S. Constitution has twenty-seven ratified amendments, and the Twenty-Sixth Amendment, which guarantees Suffrage for Eighteen-Year-Olds, was proposed on March 23, 1971, and ratified 100 days later on July 1, 1971. Change can happen very quickly.

I have earlier proposed two other amendments to the U.S. Constitution, one guarantees Supreme Court Gender Equality and the other guarantees Universal Health Care. Like the two amendments I propose in the following, my proposed Universal Health Care amendment is a money issue that is at its heart a national security issue. My arguments in favor of my proposed Universal Health Care amendment can be read at here and here. But please read the following first.

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The United States government needs money. The following two proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution would create an enormous perpetual revenue stream and would do so reasonably and fairly in legitimate ways that are easily justifiable to even the most ardently conservative capitalist. Simply, goods and services deserve fair compensation, and that end is what is being accomplished in what I propose.

The world has changed since September 17, 1787, when the signing of the Constitution took place in Philadelphia. Then, America was mostly self-contained and mostly self-reliant in every way that mattered. Then, businesses sold their goods and services locally or regionally, very rarely nationally, and almost never internationally. Then, American businesses served America and cared about America, because America was where they profited. Today, America exists in a global economy that barely recognizes national boundaries and the sovereignty of nations, a global economy in which corporate business interests are no longer defined by any sort of national loyalty. The consequence of this remarkable embrace of the global marketplace by multinational corporations is nothing short of an all-out economic attack on America, and the national security interests of America have certainly been compromised in the outcomes.

The world has been engaged in an Economic World War for many years now, though the U.S. government publicly ignores that war at every turn. Unfortunately, America is now in a situation so dire that we are at risk of perishing as a nation unless we quickly wake up to the power shifts that are occurring at the heart of the new global economy. Enacting the following amendments would stem the tide of the Economic World War in the same manner that the D-Day Invasion stemmed the tide of World War Two. The war would not be over, but a mainland beachhead would be established from which the remaining battles could be supplied and reinforced. Victory was not made assured on D-Day, but it was made possible. As it is now in the Economic World War, the stark realities are all working against the U.S., and victory seems impossible. To make victory possible again would be to restore the hope that is the very promise of the American ideal: that the best days are still to come, that greatness is our children’s destiny.

In any search for a war strategy, a nation must first make an honest assessment of its best assets with a keen eye toward finding the weaknesses and holes. America is an implausible miracle of history, something best described with the Biblical phrase “in the fullness of time” — as if a greater purpose was at stake. What held America together at its forming revolution, and then during its Civil War, and still now in 2011 are mere words on paper: a Declaration of Independence and a United States Constitution. And so I searched the U.S. Constitution for its weaknesses and holes, and I found the following:

The Constitution Of The United States:
Article I Section 8. [1] The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; …

[3] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes; …

[8] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries; …

[18] To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

The following amendments to the U.S. Constitution should be placed into those found weaknesses and holes as strategic reinforcements in our nation’s effort to turn the tide in the Economic World War.

Proposed Amendment XXVIII
Re: Article I Section 8. [3]
All multinational corporations or enterprises, international corporations, transnational corporations, and micro-multinational corporations with management headquarters located in a home country outside of the United States shall be recognized as foreign Nations, and shall be required to contract an Agreement with the United States Congress before selling their goods and services in the United States or its territories.

Proposed Amendment XXIX
Re: Article I Section 8. [8]
The United States shall have one percent (1%) ownership of each and every copyright and patent issued and registered by the United States government. The ownership shall be limited to the pre-tax gross revenues generated by any and all uses of that which is protected by U.S. copyright and patent law, and all such ownership shall be without exception. All revenues earned from such ownership shall be used to fund the free public education guaranteed to citizens by law, with all revenues from patents supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education exclusively and all revenues from copyrights supporting either Arts and Humanities education or Physical Education and Health education exclusively according to the general categories that create the revenues (i.e. computer-related patents support computer science education, music copyrights support music arts education, sporting event copyrights support physical education, and so forth).


The best solution to a problem is often the simplest solution that is the most obvious solution. Both of my proposed amendments are solutions of that sort.

A wise person gains leverage in a negotiation by shrewdly bargaining his/her most valuable asset both first and last. Always, the most valuable asset is made the end prize, and it is never given away cheaply. Rather, it is that which is purchased — the Biblical “pearl of great price” (Matt. 13:45-46) for which one would sell everything he/she owns.

The United States Congress owns the constitutional right “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations,” which means: to control access to the biggest, richest, most powerful economy in the world. Yet Congress routinely forfeits that right to the legal shenanigans of multinational corporations of every stripe, and it does so without a fight. Simply, we have allowed our senators and representatives in Congress to become saps, wimps, chumps, and dupes. Multinational corporations must look upon Americans as morons and prostitutes, because we are so easily made to heel. Quite literally, Congress has given away the store — the American people — to unfriendly powers that are intent on usurping control over the American marketplace. It is an outrage that must stop.

My proposed Amendment XXVIII (28) would dramatically change the world overnight, and then more and more so every day thereafter. The final outcome after the necessary transition would find America richer, stronger, and more economically vibrant than ever before. And every multinational corporation in the world would be humbled as a result.

“All multinational corporations or enterprises, international corporations, transnational corporations, and micro-multinational corporations … recognized as foreign Nations” by the amendment would surely fight against the amendment’s ratification with tremendous resources and all-out zeal, and would threaten terrible consequences if ratification ever occurred. But all of those corporations would quickly line up to “contract an Agreement with the United States Congress” following the amendment’s ratification, because maintaining a presence in the American marketplace is worth vastly more than whatever loss of profits might be suffered in the agreement. That is the truth. That is the gamble.

Understand this: every multinational corporation of any sort that had its management headquarters located in the United States would not be recognized as a foreign Nation, and would not “be required to contract an Agreement with the United States Congress before selling their goods and services in the United States or its territories.” Those corporations would identify the United States as their “home country” and could rightly identify themselves as American, and they would benefit from that distinction.

The first expected outcome from ratification of my proposed amendment is that more multinational corporations would choose to become American. In doing so, they could no longer dodge U.S. corporate taxes in any way, and U.S. tax revenues would therefore increase substantially. More importantly, the first expected outcome could result in more national loyalty from those corporations that choose to be American, and the national security interests of the United States would certainly be served by that increased loyalty.

The second expected outcome from ratification is that many jobs would be created for American workers, both by those corporations choosing to be American and by those corporations “required to contract an Agreement with the United States Congress before selling their goods and services in the United States or its territories.” Contract incentives rewarding the creation of permanent American jobs that are not tax subsidized would be a big part of the Agreement proposal presented by Congress to “foreign Nation” corporations. The Agreement would offer several choices, but creating permanent jobs for American workers would be clearly the advantaged choice for most corporations.

The third expected outcome follows the first two, but would supersede both in importance if Congress lived up to its oath of office, that third expected outcome being: Congress would designate select American publicly-traded corporations as U.S. National Security Corporations, and would grant those corporations extraordinary stock market protections on an ongoing basis in order to protect U.S. national security interests at all times. For example, those corporations could have their stock protected by law from all short selling, options trading, and programmed trading that is manipulative and/or hostile. Also, the legal protections could require all foreigners who own those stocks to first register with the U.S. government and then hold their stock in U.S. National Security Corporations in accounts that could be immediately and permanently frozen without recourse by the U.S. government at any time of national emergency.

The fact is: America must minimally have at all times the functioning manufacturing base that is necessary to quickly arm and defend itself in times of war, and that includes textile manufacturing for military uniforms and supplies, and every other kind of essential manufacturing that we have already allowed multinational corporations to send to China and India and other foreign countries where cheaper labor is available. America has been terribly irresponsible in creating our current predicament, and so our federal government must now be heroic in restoring our national security at every level of American society.

Know this: U.S. National Security Corporations would be prized buy-and-hold investment stocks, because those stocks would be largely immune to market gyrations due to their Congress-favored protections. Quite simply, those stocks alone could restore public trust in the U.S. stock markets, and that restored stability is desperately needed now. Frankly, to buy stock in a U.S. National Security Corporation would be to make a long-term investment in America’s future; it would be patriotic. Though no specific investment return could be guaranteed, and though the investment returns would likely be modest in most cases, it would be a near-certainty that such investments would be reliably profitable over time.

Remember, a U.S. National Security Corporation would have the U.S. government as a guaranteed customer. If the U.S. government will not commit to buying American-made products, why should its citizens? The change in national self-awareness thinking that leads to self-interest buying practices has to start with “We The People” together.

Yes, we can. Yes, we should.

For clarity regarding my proposed Amendment XXVIII (28), consider the direct parallel it has to the illegal alien issue that plagues U.S. immigration policy, especially in light of the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are people in the eyes of the law. What should the U.S. government do about an estimated 11 million people who are living in our country illegally? Deportation seems harsh in many individual cases, though to ever grant amnesty to illegal immigration practices is to reward and encourage lawlessness. So too with the U.S. government response to multinational corporations that choose to locate their home country in a foreign land in order to dodge U.S. corporate taxes: we have become gutless to act in our own long-term self-interest. Why should any multinational corporation choose to have its headquarters in America when the U.S. government does not grant it any exclusive rights and privileges in our nation’s marketplace for doing so? The illegal-alien-equivalent multinational corporation is actually given an advantage when it sells its goods and services in America, because it avoids U.S. corporate taxes without penalty, and even without any obligation to ever just pay the difference in some meaningful way. It is an outrage that must stop, and my proposed amendment would stop it all immediately.

Having the United States Congress reclaim its ownership of the constitutional right “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations” under the definitions provided by my proposed amendment is the first step to restoring America as the world’s preeminent great nation. The second step that follows is equally monumental.

The United States Congress owns the constitutional right “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries,” which means: to create and enforce legal protections of intellectual property rights in the forms of registered copyrights and registered patents, and to resolve disputes over such matters through the workings of the U.S. Courts, including the Supreme Court of The United States if necessary. Yet the United States pays itself very meagerly for creating and enforcing such guaranteed legal protections as are derived from U.S. issued copyrights and patents — essentially, no more than very reasonable one-time registration processing fees for legal protections that the U.S. government will guarantee for decades.

What a deal, especially now — more than 224 years after the ink dried at the signing of the Constitution. Compare the technologies of the day in September 1787 to the technologies of the day today in December 2011. Just ponder this: Benjamin Franklin first proved that lightning is electricity when he flew his kite in a storm in 1752, and then invented lightning rods. The electric telegraph was invented in 1787. A whole lot has happened since. Back in 1787, music copyrights only protected against the piracy of printed sheet music, because there were no recording devices then and no broadcast mediums other than live-performance. And back in 1787, printing presses were laborious sheet-fed hand-operated machines, so printing hundreds of copies of something was printing a lot. Today, music copyrights protect against even the piracy that occurs when file sharing downloads happen in the virtual world of the Internet, and in every other imaginable case, too.

So what is fair compensation for the protections granted to intellectual property rights by U.S. copyright and patent law? Is the one-time cost of a registration filing fee fair compensation to the U.S. government for providing a lifetime-plus-50-years copyright protection that is fully guaranteed by the U.S. judicial system? Is the U.S. government being fairly compensated for the patents it protects? These are difficult questions, but mostly because maintaining a past practice always seems fair at first consideration, as in: “We have always done it this way, so why change it now?” Well, now is now, and it is way past time for a change. My claim is: U.S. government guaranteed goods and services deserve a fair compensation. The necessary justification for my proposed Amendment XXIX (29) is as simple as that.

Who pays the one percent (1%)? Understand this: “The United States shall have one percent (1%) ownership of each and every copyright and patent issued and registered by the United States government” means the U.S. automatically gets its share — it actually becomes the full owner of something — whenever a copyright or patent is issued and registered by the U.S. government, and that “something” is a 1% share of whatever is being protected. Furthermore, “The ownership shall be limited to the pre-tax gross revenues generated by any and all uses of that which is protected by U.S. copyright and patent law” means that the U.S. share does not ever first exist as taxable income for any other owner of a copyright or patent — the U.S. share is paid directly from the gross revenues to the U.S. as its share, as if the U.S. were a principal partner in a business venture. A failure to give the U.S. its rightful share of the gross revenues would be fraud and would have serious legal consequences according to both contract and criminal law.

But Know This: No one is obligated, compelled, or coerced to ever get a U.S. copyright or a U.S. patent except by a personal desire to protect their own self-interest in the best way possible to their greatest advantage. According to my proposed amendment, the cost of that protection should be granting 1% ownership to the United States of that which is being protected. If that cost is too high, then whoever created or invented a piece of intellectual property can choose of their own free will to leave that property unprotected in the American marketplace. In that case, the intellectual property could be stolen outright by someone else and reproduced for profit, and the original creator or inventor could possibly have no legal recourse whatsoever if that which was stolen was not a physical object of some sort. That means an intellectual property thief could legally buy an unprotected product, then reverse engineer it, and then manufacture and sell it for profit — and do so legally without any risk of penalty. That is the risk. That is the possible loss and forfeiture suffered by choosing to not grant the United States a 1% ownership as fair compensation for U.S. government protection of intellectual property rights in the form of a U.S. copyright or a U.S. patent.

It is important to know that there are no exceptions, even U.S. copyrights and U.S. patents held by foreigners, including foreign corporations, are subject to the requirement of granting 1% ownership to the United States. If an issued and registered U.S. copyright or U.S. patent is sold from one person/corporation to another in part or in whole, the United States still maintains its 1% ownership without change. In fact, the United States cannot sell, forfeit, or cancel its 1% ownership under any circumstance, because the United States is We The People.

The school funding portion of the proposed amendment is based in the fundamental aspect of a Biblical tithe, in that a blessing has its source. My contentions are these: 1) American education contributes to American success; 2) American schools foster American creativity; 3) American teachers deserve the opportunity to do their best work with the best resources available; 4) saying “thank you” never hurt anyone, and sometimes those words inspire greatness; and 5) my formula for revenue distribution can be trusted to withstand bureaucratic tampering. The spiritual guidance of “being blessed to be a blessing” applies — of giving back by passing forward the gift.

Not every creator and not every inventor is so spiritual and giving as I suggest, and many such people certainly hated school with every fiber of their being. Even so … even so … I too hated school. But hope must spring eternal in this one respect, despite all. Why? By my observation, we have thus far proven ourselves to be failures as a nation regarding the funding and the purpose of public education, and what I propose might be our last best chance to get it right. That is an arrogant statement, but it is wholly correct nonetheless. America simply must put public education as its highest priority if it wants to maintain itself as a great nation.

The principal awareness — the guiding light — must be this: America’s greatest natural and national resources — indeed, the very treasure of the land — are its best and brightest students, its young geniuses, those whose potentials are truly surpassing. No gold mine, no oil field, and no vastness of untapped mineral deposit compares in value to the potentials of our best young minds. Yet we throw those potentials to the feckless winds of fate as if the seeds can be counted on to sprout of their own accord no matter where they might land.

The public school funding that would be accomplished by my proposed Amendment XXIX (29), is enormous and staggering — almost beyond measure. Remember, the United States would claim one percent (1%) ownership of annual revenue numbers like these:
Dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education:
U.S. prescription sales (2008) = $291 billion
U.S. computer software industry (2010) = $240 billion
U.S. computer hardware market (2008) = $60.6 billion
U.S. chemicals industry (2010) = $700 billion

Do the math: Already almost $1.3 trillion x 1% = $13 billion
In 2007-08, there were 132,656 elementary and secondary schools in the United States (K-12 in total), 98,916 that were public schools and 33,740 that were private schools.
Rough math: $13 billion / 100,000 public schools = $130,000 per school per year for STEM education only … and we are still counting! Just consider annual mobile phone sales; and home appliance and TV sales; and automobile and truck sales; and heavy equipment sales; and military defense contract sales; and patented seed sales; and medical devices sales; and medical diagnostic equipment and surgery supply sales; and recreational vehicle, equipment, and gun sales; and … Consider that the 2010 revenues at Boeing Co. totaled $64.3 billion, and probably ever dollar of that was directly related to sales of patented products. Source:
Certainly, the per school per year funding for STEM education only will approximate at least $260,000, which will pay for five teacher salaries averaging $52,000 per year.

But those “rough math” numbers go into the stratosphere when appropriate factoring is done. For example, I will use my local public school district (Eugene School District 4J in Oregon) as a general case model. 4J has two “K-5” (6-year) elementary schools feed into one “6-8” (3-year) middle school, and two “6-8” (3-year) middle schools feed into one “9-12” (4-year) high school. Therefore, the elementary schools and the middle schools in 4J are weighted equivalents when “per student per year” factoring is done. That is: a 375-student 6-year elementary school (62.5 students per grade) equals a 375-student 3-year (125 students per grade) middle school, when the basic unit is a school. But a 1000-student 4-year (250 students per grade) high school is different. Doing the math using the 4J model to establish weighted equivalent factors finds that each elementary and middle school has a 0.723 factor and each high school has a 2.666 factor when weighted school allotments are calculated.

Therefore, if $260,000 is the per school K-12 non-weighted allotment dedicated solely to STEM education, then the weighted allotments according to the previous paragraph’s math approximate to $187,833 for each elementary and middle school and $693,000 for each high school. At the high school level, that equals eleven teaching positions dedicated solely to STEM education paying an average salary of $63,000 per year.

For various reasons, I would choose a weighted per school allotment on a national elementary/middle/high-school averaging with perhaps two distinct levels (rural/town and urban/city) over a strict per student allotment. I think “weighted per school” allotments would encourage schools of a certain size if it was done wisely, and schools of a certain size are generally thought to be better.

Also, I would allow for “banking of 10%” for up to five years to fund building improvement projects related to a particular category. For example, STEM allotments that were banked could pay for the construction or upgrading of science laboratories at our public high schools. In the 4J example, $693,000 x 10% = $69,300, and $69,300 x 5 = $346,500. I think a very fine science laboratory could be built and equipped for $346,500.

The money for public education funding generated by my proposed Amendment XXIX (29) from U.S. copyrights is not as great as that from U.S. patents in my estimation, but the amounts are still staggering. Consider these numbers:
U.S. Video Game Industry (2010) = $18.58 billion
U.S. Music Industry (2008) = $10.4 billion
U.S. Movie Industry (2010) = $10.57 billion
U.S. Book Industry (2007) = $35.69 billion
U.S. DVD Industry (recent) = $23 billion
Those numbers add up to $98.24 billion, which means a $982.4 million yearly funding for U.S. public schools if my proposed amendment were ratified.

In the realm of Arts and Humanities funding, school districts might choose to hire a specialist teacher that might be shared by several schools (for example, a band teacher). Or it could happen that the nation would elect to spend a certain portion of the funding to create Internet-based learning experiences that could be used by anyone, including homeschoolers and students who attend private schools. I think it would be wise to fund K-12 Internet-based learning experiences wherever that is reasonably possible.

Consider every bit of rerun TV programming is generating copyright-protected revenues, and so too is every TV broadcast of sporting event, including college sports, professional sports, and the Olympics, and those TV sports broadcasting contracts are enormous!

Think it all through, and do not be stupid in your thinking.

My proposal exclusively funds K-12 free public education. However, if citizens wisely kept current school-supporting taxations in place, much of those public tax monies could be redirected from funding K-12 education to funding public community college and public university education, meaning current college and university tuitions could be slashed. The implications and ramifications and outcomes and surprises hidden in my proposed Amendment XXIX (29) are enormous, and the justifications for doing what I propose are wholly fair and reasonable.

God bless America.

Steven A. Sylwester
December 12, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My comments to the Heritage blog regarding Obamacare

I have written several comments to articles about Obamacare that were posted online on the Heritage Foundation blog. My comments always contend that a better solution to the health care problem in America is my proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would guarantee Universal Health Care as a Constitutional right for all American citizens. I am copying my Heritage blog comments here without making edits or changes of any sort. Consequently, some of my writing might seem to be taken out of context. To provide the context for my writing, I have in every case included a web link to the article that provoked my comment.

Steven A. Sylwester

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I highly recommend that all readers find the time to watch two PBS FRONTLINE programs: "Sick Around America" and "Sick Around The World." Both programs can be viewed online for free at:

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Side Effects: Obamacare Creates More Unnecessary Work for Already Swamped Doctors

by Margot Crouch

March 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm


Let us all agree: The health care system in the United States has a problem.

Let us all agree: Obamacare does not fix the problem.

Let us all agree: Obamacare needs to be repealed.

Let us all agree: The problem in the U.S. health care system needs to be correctly identified, and then it needs to be permanently solved with an effective system-wide fix.

Let us all agree: A system-wide fix to a national problem must involve the federal government.

Let us all agree: The federal government is "We The People" as an ideal and as an actuality; the federal government is not "those Washington DC bureaucrats" in wrongful collusion with the U.S. Congress, even if it seems so by every possible observation.

Let us all agree: We are capable of being adults and of doing the right thing, and we can act in the best interests of America to restore and then preserve our nation's integrity and its economic greatness.

Let us all agree: We have demonstrated our potential to be our worst enemy, and we must overcome the temptations that lurk in the dark side of capitalism where the importance of people is replaced by the importance of money as measured in profits.

Let us all agree: Our spouses, our children, our mothers, our fathers, our siblings, our friends, and our neighbors are more important than any corporation anywhere by every measure that truly matters, which are the measures of love found in caring, in kindness, in giving, and in forgiving — to love is to give without measure and without recompense. Corporations love no one. If love is to be an ingredient in America's goodness, then it must come from that "of the people, by the people, for the people" stuff that President Abraham Lincoln spoke of in his Gettysburg Address.

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Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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Let us all agree: President Lincoln's resolve "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom" is a resolve that every new generation of Americans must join in with utmost sincerity — out of duty, out of honor, out of respect, and out of patriotism. The signers of The Declaration of Independence put their signatures under these concluding words: "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor." As citizens of The United States of America in the year 2011, our mutual pledge to each other should be no less than that.

Let us all agree: Each one of us has something to offer America, and the gift that each one of us brings is worthy of note and of proper consideration, even if the gifts of some seem contrary and difficult. Remember, America was made by these welcomed people:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Some of those welcomed people were ever only expert in their own opinions, but national greatness came of that. Those biblical days in our nation's history are not over yet, nor should they ever be over. Nourishment and truth is found in the salt of the earth — yes, even in those sorts of people whose education comes from living life.

I offer my gift:

You — the good people of The Heritage Foundation and its supporters — do not want to accept my gift, because it goes contrary to too many things that you hold sacred. But I ask: What is sacred? Webster's Dictionary defines the word "sacred" in this case as: "devoted exclusively to one service or use (as of a person or purpose)." Therefore, what? and why? and how? "When?" is now. "Where?" is here.

President Abraham Lincoln said on a Civil War battlefield what needs to be said again now: "It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Please accept my gift by reading my proposal. Thank you.

Steven A. Sylwester


Bobbie: Your use of "of, for and by the people" refers to what I wrote, so I will respond as if your comments were directed at me.

I am not participating in a game to complicate the U.S. health care system. If anything, I am doing my utmost to simplify the system.

Furthermore, I am not "trying to wear out the true American leaders." If anything, I am doing my utmost to call those leaders to the task of doing what needs to be done.

Bobbie, I can only conclude that you have not read my proposal from beginning to end. Please do so.

The U.S. health care system is driven by profit making, because its structure is a fear-based corporate enterprise that is multi-layered and interlocking throughout. Not one bit of it is altruistic, because the system does not allow for altruism. At its most basic is this suffering: the escalating cost of medical malpractice insurance instills fear in physicians, clinics, and hospitals by keeping the real threat of lawsuits at the forefront of all decision-making processes.

If you sort out the medical malpractice insurance costs problem, what you will find are parasites — very well-fed parasites who live off of the U.S. health care system without bringing any benefit to it at all. Those parasites are the lawyers and the insurance companies that specialize in medical malpractice. The amount of money siphoned out of the system by those parasites is staggeringly enormous. Worse than that: the "siphoned out" amount grows and grows each and every year. It is robbery that is akin to the doings of organized crime, except that it is done in broad daylight while everyone watches and acquiesces. We must rid the U.S. health care system of its parasites.

But the "profit making" is not just spurred by outside forces. There is plenty of internal greed, too. When the system promises a good living to its players, then the system needs to deliver on that promise — and so rules are made, and best practices are established. Unfortunately, "rules" and "best practices" made by a self-governing system always err on the side of self-interest, which — in a profit-making scheme — always results in more profits.

Ask yourself: If I were a physician, what would I do? Would I permanently cure attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in my patient with an effective diet recommendation? Or would I place my patient in a chronic condition status that would require ongoing prescription care and regular office visits over many years? If I were a profit-minded physician, the temptation would be to do the latter.

Ask yourself: If I were a physician, what would I do? Would I permanently cure asthma in my patient with an effective Vitamin D regimen? Or would I place my patient in a chronic condition status that would require ongoing prescription care and regular office visits over many years? If I were a profit-minded physician, the temptation would be to do the latter.

I can assure you with firsthand certainty that Vitamin D can literally cure asthma in at least some cases, but no pharmaceutical company making asthma-related drugs would ever want you to know that, nor would many profit-minded physicians who specialize in treating asthma and allergies. The system protects its own — and its own are not the patients!

Bobbie, maybe you can ignore all of the above, but you cannot ignore this:
The Associated Press news article "Preemie Birth Preventive Spikes From $10 To $1,500" reports an outrage — a price-gouging outrage — that should never be considered acceptable. Yet the article was written in Atlanta on March 10, 2011, and it reports: "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not involved in setting the price for the drugs it approves." In other words, the U.S. health care system fully approves of the pricing strategy of "KV Pharmaceutical of suburban St.Louis," because free enterprise capitalism is the American way of doing business.

Bobbie, I believe in capitalism. But capitalism only works in a free and open system that is fully vulnerable to market corrections. A market correction cannot happen in a closed system, nor can it happen to a monopoly, nor can it happen when price-fixing collusion is taking place. Monopolies are illegal. So too is price-fixing collusion.

There is another kind of collusion that happens naturally in a closed system, and I will call it tit-for-tat collusion. It is the sort of collusion that is evident in the following excerpt from the "Preemie Birth Preventive ..." article linked above: "But Snow and others said someone is going to have to pay the higher price. Some of the burden will fall on health insurance companies, which will have to raise premiums or other costs to their other customers." Of course, the health insurance companies will raise premiums (tit) enough to accommodate KV Pharmaceutical's pricing (tat) — and then raise them a little bit more just to be sure that their profits are not hurt.

THERE IS NO DOUBT ABOUT IT: The U.S. health care system is a closed system that has created a huge economic bubble as a consequence of rampant tit-for-tat collusion throughout its system. That economic bubble would certainly suffer a market correction in a capitalism system that was free and open, but the closed system and its inherent collusion work together to make a market correction impossible. Consequently, the needed market correction will necessarily occur somewhere else in the U.S. economy as a mysterious hemorrhage that defies explanation. But worse: the mysterious hemorrhage will only serve to compound the problem.

THE TERRIBLE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THIS: The U.S. economy currently has two huge economic bubbles that must endure market corrections but are not vulnerable to market corrections because they are protected within the structures of closed systems, and those two bubbles are in: 1) health care, and 2) public education. Mercifully, the governor of Wisconsin has started a process that might force the necessary market correction in public education, but no savior has yet started the necessary market correction in health care.

Long term, the only workable solution is to treat health care and public education much differently than they have been treated in the past. My proposal is an attempt to show what that might look like in health care.

Basically, the national health care budget must be permanently fixed in some way, and I propose that be as a capped maximum that is a percentage of the national GDP. My proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: "The government shall provide all citizens with free and equal health care, including all tests, treatments, medications, therapies, procedures, surgeries, hospitalizations, and long-term care that: ...

4) are affordable within an overall government health care program budget that does not exceed 15% of the government’s GDP."

Simply, my proposal concludes that money does not grow on trees, and that a healthy economy cannot overspend in any one aspect of itself. My proposal does not stifle creativity in invention and innovation. Rather, it serves to encourage and reward that creativity on an ongoing basis. As is the case now, those who successfully invent and innovate will be financially rewarded more than others, but not as a consequence of anything that could be construed as robbery.

Steven A. Sylwester



Who is the "We" and the "Our" that you refer to? Are you the spokesperson for an established group? If so, please identify the group.

If you are writing in defense of your own opinion, then refer to yourself as "I."

Your "our this" and "our that" throughout your March 21st comment reveals a strange paranoia, which can only be described as a distrust of the U.S. government. In its masthead, The Heritage Foundation describes its Vision with theses words: "Building an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish." To build such an America as that, the very first ingredient and the main ingredient thereafter must be an abiding trust in the U.S. government — a trust that cannot and will not fail, despite all things — a trust that believes in the prevailing goodness of America, despite all things — a trust that does not fall prey to worry and fear, despite all things — a trust that expects the spiritual motivations of "faith, hope, and love" to be common among all Americans, despite all things — a trust that will "Love your neighbor as yourself," despite all things.

Bobbie, you care deeply, but you are caring about the wrong things.

You wrote: "Free market will keep our personal health and privacy within our rightful control. Free market generates their own revenue."

The reality is this: The world has changed, and the rulers in the new world are corporations — corporations that are not loyal to any nation, or even to their own customers. These corporations protect themselves with self-serving contracts, and they answer only to their own shareholders, i.e. those who seek to profit directly from the corporations' business practices. In no way whatsoever at all at any time do any of these corporations ever care about you, your "personal health," or your "privacy," except in whatever ways it is profitable and in their best interests to do so, or to the extent that they are compelled by law to do so, or to the extent that their in-house attorneys advise them to do so to avoid lawsuits. That is the truth. Best business practices are starkly objective regarding anything that has to do with either potential or actual profits, and that objectivity absolutely nixes anything that even remotely suggests a desire to care about the subjective needs of a customer — any customer, even including you.

Simply, your health insurance company does not care about your health, except to the extent that it can successfully avoid paying any medical claims you might make. Your health insurance company profits only if it takes in more money than it pays out, so its incentives are: 1) to take in more and more (raise premiums), and 2) to pay out less and less (deny claims). That is the simple arithmetic.

Bobbie, exactly where does the free market generate its own revenue? In the case of health insurance companies, revenue is generated through premiums. What does the word "premium" mean? According to Webster's Dictionary, the word "premium" means: "a sum over and above a regular price paid chiefly as an inducement or incentive, a sum in advance of or in addition to the nominal value of something, a high value or a value in excess of that normally or usually expected." In other words, because your health insurance company must make a profit to stay in business, you must pay insurance premiums at a rate that is higher than the cost of the medical care you might one day receive. That is the truth.

The fact is: U.S. citizens are paying more money for health care than what health care actually costs, because the U.S. health care system requires the financial support — on a profit-taking basis — of a whole layer of system bureaucracy that does absolutely nothing except siphon their own profit out of the system — and they determine their own profit on a most-for-least basis that they alone control without any government interference. It is a robbery that is akin to the doings of organized crime.

Help yourself. Read this:

Steven A. Sylwester

Morning Bell: Failure is Obama’s Strategy

by Conn Carroll

March 22, 2011 at 9:13 am


In the Major Leagues, getting into a pickle is the result of your own incompetence, and any hope of getting out of a pickle must depend on your opponent's incompetence. Such is base running in baseball. Such is politics. Such is life.

One can only hope that the pickle caused by your own incompetence is not formed with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in the seventh game of the World Series when your team is one run behind and your best hitter is coming up to bat. When there is no tomorrow is when utter defeat happens. Incompetence always hopes that today is just another day.

And so the United States finds itself in a pickle. Our looking to the Left and then quickly looking to the Right back-and-forth trying to determine which way to run is missing the key element of the baseball metaphor, which is that there is an opponent — there is the other team. The U.S. problem — its pickle — is not among teammates (the Leftist Democrats and the Rightist Republicans), it is with outside forces — an opponent — the other team.

Think that through. Ponder it deeply.

I am a 56-year-old lifelong registered Democrat who now self-identifies as a liberal Republican. I have never voted for a Republican for president in the past, but I cannot imagine ever voting for a Democrat for president in the future. I have not yet changed my party registration, because I am still hoping that a viable third party might emerge before the next national election.

The fight is in the middle. America's last hope is waiting to be found in the middle. Rather than looking to the Left and looking to the Right, we need to start looking Up and looking Down. We need to find the Universal Truth — the Middle Ground. And we need to recognize the players and the forces on "the other team."

What caused me to become a liberal Republican are the following:

1) My faith in God, and my belief that The Holy Bible tells a true story, including the story of Creation —
2) My steadfast opposition to "same-sex marriage" —
3) The welcome I have felt at the "Huck PAC" blog and at "The Foundry" blog, even when I have argued in favor of positions that are not generally thought of as conservative —
4) My surprise in discovering that I proudly identify myself as a Glenn Beck fan, and that I am willing to defend Beck against all comers, even though I do not always agree with him.

Why Glenn Beck? I was raised in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and Luther's Small Catechism states:


Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, nor defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

Simply, I had heard and read so much disparaging vile criticism of Glenn Beck that I decided to find out about Beck for myself before I ever said one bad thing about him. So I watched his TV show to give him a break, and I kept watching his show, and I soon discovered that Beck is a decent and sincere man of goodwill who is trying very hard to make a positive difference in the world. When I reported this good news about Beck to my liberal Democratic friends, I was scorned — in some cases, with great hostility. Those scorning me admitted that they had never watched Beck for themselves, that their poor opinion of Beck was purely their parroting of the poor opinion stated by trusted others, and that they would neither quit their attacks on Beck nor bother to test my judgment of him by daring to watch Beck's TV show for an entire week to find out the truth for themselves.

The fact is: if I had ever said a bad word about Glenn Beck to anyone, I would be truly ashamed of myself now.

Two things about Glenn Beck are especially noteworthy: 1) he is searching for the Middle Ground, and 2) he is trying to identify the players and the forces on "the other team." And I must report that he is succeeding in both efforts.

On March 24, 2011, Paul Krugman wrote:
and I commented:
What both of us wrote is worth reading.

After pondering again the above and what I wrote in comment to Krugman, I offer the following plan to identify "the other team" that the U.S. is playing against:

1) Congressional Hearing: Subpoena George Soros and place him under oath.

Objective: Determine to everyone's satisfaction whether Soros is friend or foe in two distinct and separate realms: 1) in the realm of currency trading, especially regarding the U.S. dollar; and 2) in the realm of "New World Order" thinking.

2) Congressional Hearing: Subpoena Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch, Muriel Siebert, Steve Forbes, Ken Fisher, John Bogle, William O'Neil, William Gross, and Richard Fuld and place them under oath.

Objective: Determine to everyone's satisfaction what should be the rules in the U.S. stock markets regarding short selling, and whether the new uptick rule is working. See: Also, consider with the panel the ramifications to U.S. national security of worldwide electronic stock markets: specifically, whether economic warfare against the U.S. is happening now or could ever happen in the future without the knowledge of the U.S. government, and whether effective covert economic aggression against one nation by other nations (for example, against Israel by Arab nations) in the form of negative stock manipulations could be happening without anyone's awareness. Especially, consider whether "investing" is happening in an Internet Age in which computer programmed trading by large investment firms is the norm, or whether what should be investing is actually warring manipulations and convenient collusions that are exceedingly unfriendly and unfair to individual private investors.

3) Congressional Hearing: Subpoena leading economists, business scholars, and experts in all aspects of international trade agreements and treaties.

Objective: Determine to everyone's satisfaction whether it is time for the U.S. government to start treating all multinational corporations as sovereign nation equivalents, and therefore require them to sign and then honor legally binding trade agreements or treaties in order to sell their products and services within our borders. A significant part of such trade agreements or treaties would be guaranteed permanent full-time employment for American citizens in U.S.-based manufacturing, service, retail/wholesale, and/or distribution centers. Simply, if a multinational corporation is going to sell in America, then it must hire and permanently employ Americans in America according to acceptable standards.

4) Government Accounting Office Report: Single-Payer Universal Health Care models

Objective: Determine to everyone's satisfaction what the economic impact of several different single-payer universal health care models would be. Of course, I offer my own proposal for GAO review:

Regarding my Universal Health Care model: I am fully aware of the tendencies that government bureaucracies have to become stupid and wasteful. My proposal states: "There should be no profit motive in the U.S. health care delivery system, except that which motivates efficiencies — and efficiencies are crucial. The thinking of Dr. W. Edwards Deming needs to be put at the very center of the U.S. health care system in a way that becomes defining, and that then radiates the thinking throughout the whole system with a mighty transforming force." If you do not know who Dr. W. Edwards Deming is, read this:

For example, if it were mine to do, I would determine through a national inventory based on the previous year's computer record of actual health care insurance payouts what the exact percentage of existing natural funding is for medical care across the U.S. I would then separate out experimental care and new care from established proven care, and I would assign the oversight of experimental care and new care to the U.S. Senate while assigning oversight of established proven care to the U.S. House of Representatives. Doing so would guarantee an established percentage of funding for experimental care and new care without any risk of loss of funding, and the focus on that care would be more stable and long-term because of its Senate assignment.

Because the U.S. House has 435 representatives who each represent an equal number of citizens, I would divide the nation into five equally populated geographic areas, so the House "established proven care" medical costs oversight responsibility could be foremost exercised on a regional basis. Each area would consist of 87 House districts, with both rural and urban settings spread across several contiguous states. This arrangement would allow for experiments in standard practices within an area, and for efficiency competitions between the five different regional areas in ways that would encourage ongoing innovations and inventions in even the most mundane aspects of "established proven care."

Understand this: because each regional area would have the same population, each regional area would have the same allotted budget for "established proven care" medical costs. Therefore, game on! I believe it is possible to get better and better, i.e. more efficient, if there is an active ongoing encouragement to do so, even within the context of a U.S. government health care program.

The main problem with the U.S. health care system is that many of its secondary problems are either invisible or unknown, and the most significant cost drivers within the system come from forces outside of the system. Furthermore, the system justifies its exorbitant compensations with its exorbitant education costs, as if extreme wealth should naturally be the reward for extreme education, especially extremely expensive education. Basically, all of the system's plugs need to be pulled out and then tested individually to discover where the overloads are occurring.

In the end, the system must serve the needs of just two user groups: 1) the caregivers, and 2) the patients — and it must serve the needs of those two groups equally. I do not include the needs of insurers and of malpractice lawyers, because those two groups are parasites, and they must be entirely expelled from the system if the system ever hopes to achieve its full potential. Quite literally, the insurers and the malpractice lawyers are on "the other team."

* * *

Rules for America:

1) Do not be stupid.

2) Know who your friends are and who your enemies are, and never mistake your friends for your enemies or your enemies for your friends; treat your friends like friends.

3) Learn to follow the advice given by Jesus to his disciples: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16)

4) Always determine the weaknesses, failures, and unintended consequences of new technologies in an established system before those who have an intent for evil can achieve any advantage; think like a criminal, but never act like one.

5) Know this: The first person to actually listen to the other person usually wins the debate, because there is nothing so disarming and so endearing as the words "If I understand what you are saying, you mean ..." when the words that then follow turn out to be absolutely correct.

6) No matter what your religious beliefs might be, agree with the observation of Saint Paul when he wrote: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Steven A. Sylwester



Understand this: I am opposed to Obamacare, because it only serves to further advantage the U.S. private health insurance industry.

The only workable answer to the U.S. health care problem involves nationalizing the U.S. private health insurance industry. The equivalent scenario is this: if gangrene is present on your foot and ankle, an amputation of your lower leg is necessary to save your life. America is now in the financial dire straits where the equivalent of an amputation is necessary. It must be done.

But take this to heart: What I am proposing is a massive system-wide efficiency upgrade. The only thing being "amputated" from the system is a whole layer of profit-taking bureaucracy that literally does not do anything productive or even necessary. Truly, the private health insurance industry does just one thing: it infringes. As an outsider, it successfully dictates to your physician what can and what cannot be done in your care, because it alone controls the purse strings.

Yes, the U.S. government can and will infringe somewhat in a Universal Health Care system, but at least the patients and the physicians will have a say in that as citizens. In the current system, the patients and the physicians really have no say, except as beggars in disputes in which the private health insurance companies serve themselves as both judge and jury.

Simply, the private health insurance companies control all of the small print. You can pick which "small print" package you want, but whichever package you buy is best thought of by you as a "grab bag" white elephant purchase, because no amount of thoughtful reading on your part will ever reliably tell you exactly all of what you just bought. Out of nowhere, private health insurance companies can — and do — deny coverage, and the usual reason behind all the baloney is simply this: they do not want to pay the bill, because paying the bill drains away their profit.

Buying health insurance in the U.S. health care system is in actuality placing a bet on your own destiny in a fixed game that is fixed against you. Why should anyone have to bet on whether they will ever get cancer? Furthermore, why should you ever be denied health care that you need because you placed hopeful bets when you should have placed despairing bets? What we are now doing is stupid. Worse than that: it is cruel and heartless.

Yes, we could do Universal Health Care in the wrong way. But it is possible to do it in the right way. If you can, improve on my starting point.

Bobbie, you did not offend me in your comments. In fact, I appreciate your comments very much, and I honor your sincerity. In any communication exchange, the question is always this: Am I who I am? Or am I who others perceive me to be? If I am the latter, then who is responsible for the misunderstanding: me or the others? Well, I cannot control the listening and the comprehending of the others, but I can control my own efforts to communicate. So, Bobbie, your comments were helpful, because they forced me to try again in making myself clear.

Steven A. Sylwester

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Changing the World in Eugene, Oregon

(Long Version: 1600 words)

Roger Hite (Sept. 8) and Don Tykeson (Sept. 13) have each recently offered opposing opinions in The Register-Guard regarding the PeaceHealth commitment at Sacred Heart Medical Center / University District. While Hite is financially prudent at one end, Tykeson is daring at the other. But Tykeson’s “big plans” miss a greater opportunity to solve some local dilemmas while also making Eugene the global leader in rural medicine.

Imagine this:
> PeaceHealth, the University of Oregon, and Oregon Health & Science University partner, and OHSU gives control of its graduate program in rural medicine to the UO, which then makes that program world-class in its reach and stature.
> PeaceHealth sells the SHMC/UD land and facility to the UO, which relocates its Health and Counseling Center there along with establishing that site as its campus teaching facility for the rural medicine program.
> The UO then locates the MD / PhD medical research program it is already establishing with OHSU in its old Health and Counseling Center Building across East 13th Avenue from Oregon Hall, which is at the east end of the UO science buildings complex that runs west to University Street.
> PeaceHealth buys the Civic Stadium site from Eugene School District 4J, and builds the world’s best rural medicine teaching hospital there with an ongoing commitment to always keep that facility at the very cutting edge of what is possible in rural medicine hospital technology. Consequently, the UO program with its unequaled PeaceHealth teaching hospital will become the world’s premiere institution for rural medicine education.

The term “rural medicine” is generally defined as that medicine which is practiced in communities with a population of fewer than 50,000 people. It is “hospital / general practice” medicine, not “medical center / specialist” medicine.

There are 35 rural hospitals in Oregon. The nearest ones to Eugene are the PeaceHealth hospitals in Cottage Grove and Florence. But the most helpful cooperation could come from the competition: Community Health Systems, the owner of McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center in Springfield, altogether owns, operates, or leases 131 hospitals in non-urban markets in 29 states across the United States. The experience and expertise CHS has in rural medicine hospital practices could hugely benefit the UO program.

The Oregon-based business partners for the UO program could include Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Jeld-Wen, and Les Schwab Tire Centers. Add in Washington-based Weyerhaeuser for good measure. The business partners would do two things for the communities where they employ people: 1) help establish and support local hospitals, and 2) fund scholarships to the UO program, which means: physicians and hospital administrators would be sent to the UO from all over the world by Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Jeld-Wen, and Weyerhaeuser, and from eight western states in the U.S. by Les Schwab Tire Centers. The UO program could succeed on its own, but the business partners could quickly catapult it to national and world renown.

The big reason why we should do it is because it is doable, and that should be reason enough to change the world by becoming the center of the universe for something very big and very important. Smaller reasons would include: 1) two dedicated streetcar loops that hub at the teaching hospital site connecting north-south to downtown Eugene and connecting east-west to the UO would create a thriving economic corridor from East 5th Avenue to East 20th Avenue between Willamette Street and High Street, and 2) the UO would become eligible to receive medical research grants from federal and private sources, which would pump millions of dollars into the local economy, create hundreds of jobs, and add a significant number of highly educated professionals to our community.

Geographically, the UO program facility would be located 1.2 miles (4 minutes) away from the world’s best rural medicine teaching hospital, 5.7 miles (10 minutes) away from the largest medical center on the West Coast between San Francisco and Portland, and 10 blocks away from the science buildings complex of a world class public research university. Where else in the world is there such a place? Answer: Nowhere.

Call it the UO International Graduate Institute of Rural Medicine & Rural Hospital Development, and comprise it of five institutes:
1. Institute for Rural Hospital Development
2. Institute of U.S. and International Rural Hospital Law
3. Institute of Rural Hospital Architecture
4. Institute for Rural Hospital Computer Systems Development
5. Institute for Waterborne Disease Prevention
and four schools:
1. School of Rural Family Medicine
2. School of Nutrition and Preventive Medicine
3. School of Toxicology
4. School of Rural Epidemiology
And eventually put names to all of those. For example, “Steve Jobs Institute for Rural Hospital Computer Systems Development” would be great!

The current Fact Sheet for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation reports “Funding from 1994 to Present” (June 2011) in the category of “Global Health” at $14,742,000,000, which is the foundation’s highest funded category. That magnitude of committed funds in Global Health is likely to be ongoing for many decades.

Tykeson quoted Daniel Burnham, but then called on us to stay on the same path in the same woods with a hope that a new horizon might appear. I think Burnham would be disappointed by the smallness of that thinking. “… Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.” should be a call to change the world — a call in which hope is transformed into the resolve that fuels determined work.

But one matter needs a credo, and that is the matter of Civic Stadium. What is it that we believe as a community? And what legacy has brought us to that belief? Though Civic Stadium was actually built as a football stadium, many wrongly believe that it has always been a baseball stadium. So let us talk baseball in this final analysis.

Baseball is a game that mirrors life, but is not life. It is at once a live theater that emotes heartfelt audience participation and a pondered nuanced philosophy, but it is that in the timelessness of nine innings and in an ethic that demands a winner, not in an eternity. Baseball is where it is played when it is played; it is real, not something imagined. Baseball is something American, but its true memories are in times and places of the mind and in revelries both big and small, not in a place — not even in The House That Ruth Built — not even in the backyard where I first played catch.

They tore down the Yankee Stadium that Babe Ruth built in New York City, and we will certainly tear down Civic Stadium in Eugene. That is the truth of the matter, but where is the credo in that — the statement of guiding belief that somehow keeps faith with our community ancestors? The legacy we have is not a piece of land, nor is it a building, nor is its purpose defined by any particular activity, especially not by watching baseball being played by professional athletes! The legacy is much grander than something that is merely tangible: it is a good will to the common good — an ongoing need met — a lasting presence that supports and encourages best efforts — it is a cheering section filled with great-great-grandparents and with every parental generation since.

Our use of the proceeds from the sale of Civic Stadium to PeaceHealth is what will finally write the credo of civic-minded thinking that our ancestors intended, and that alone is what will keep the legacy of Civic Stadium alive for future generations.

I propose the following declaration:
Whereas the need for athletic fields in Eugene has been fully met by local schools and by the city, be it resolved:
> that Civic Stadium and its land be sold to the highest bidder (PeaceHealth);
> that all of the proceeds from the sale be used by Eugene School District 4J to establish The Civic Stadium Trust Fund, which will be dedicated solely and exclusively to the purchase, maintenance, and ongoing upgrading of the student-used computer systems in Eugene’s public schools;
> that the establishing principal of the fund be invested into perpetuity and only the investment returns be spent as needed on at least an annual basis;
> that The Civic Stadium Trust Fund be welcoming to citizens, organizations, and foundations wanting to make contributions to “the establishing principal” in name, so the true legacy of Civic Stadium can grow to include the goodwill of current and future generations in a real and meaningful way;
> that the District 4J School Board be responsible for approving and overseeing the fund’s expenditures;
> and that any computers replaced by District 4J in the upgrading process be given free of charge to any Lane County school districts in need of such equipment.

That declaration keeps faith with our community ancestors, and every public school district in America will envy Eugene and The Civic Stadium Trust Fund if we do it. Even so, I expect District 4J administrators will fight the idea in order to fund a temporary need. We live in desperate times, which are not unlike the desperate times when Civic Stadium was built in 1938. But do we have mettle? Do we have foresight?

The world needs what I have proposed. Yes, it creates the oddity of a local “rural hospital” for the residents of South Eugene, but that oddity will pump millions of dollars into our economy every year for as long as rural medicine is practiced in America and the world, which will likely be for the next 70 years or so, which was the lifespan of dear old Civic Stadium.

Steven A. Sylwester first recommended that a new hospital be built at the Civic Stadium site on September 1, 2005, and then did so again on September 24, 2009. See:

* * *

(Short Version: 800 words)

Roger Hite (Sept. 8) and Don Tykeson (Sept. 13) miss the greater opportunity at Sacred Heart Medical Center / University District.

> PeaceHealth, the University of Oregon, and Oregon Health & Science University partner, and OHSU gives its graduate program in rural medicine to the UO.
> PeaceHealth sells SHMC/UD to the UO, which there relocates its Health and Counseling Center and establishes its rural medicine program.
> The UO locates the MD/PhD program it has with OHSU at the abandoned Health and Counseling Center Building, which is at the east end of the UO science buildings complex.
> PeaceHealth buys Civic Stadium from Eugene School District 4J, and builds the world’s best rural teaching hospital there with a commitment to always keep that facility at the cutting edge of rural hospital technology. Consequently, the UO program becomes the world’s premiere institution for rural medicine education.

The term “rural medicine” defines that medicine which is practiced in communities with a population of fewer than 50,000 people. It is “hospital / general practice” medicine, not “medical center / specialist” medicine.

There are 35 rural hospitals in Oregon, including the PeaceHealth hospitals in Cottage Grove and Florence. But helpful cooperation could also come from the owner of McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center in Springfield: Community Health Systems, an organization that owns, operates, or leases 131 hospitals in non-urban markets in 29 states across the United States. The expertise CHS has in rural hospital practices could hugely benefit the UO program.

Business partners for the UO program could include Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Jeld-Wen, Weyerhaeuser, and Les Schwab Tire Centers. The business partners would do two things for the communities where they employ people: 1) help establish and support local hospitals, and 2) fund scholarships to the UO program, which means: physicians and hospital administrators would be sent to the UO from all over the world, including from eight western states in the U.S.

Other benefits: 1) two dedicated streetcar loops that hub at the teaching hospital site connecting north-south to downtown Eugene and east-west to the UO would create a thriving economic corridor from East 5th Avenue to East 20th Avenue between Willamette Street and High Street, and 2) the UO would become eligible to receive medical research grants from federal and private sources, which would pump millions of dollars into the local economy, create hundreds of jobs, and add a significant number of highly educated professionals to our community.

Geographically, the UO program facility would be located 1.2 miles away from the world’s best rural teaching hospital, 5.7 miles away from the largest medical center on the West Coast between San Francisco and Portland, and 10 blocks away from the science buildings complex of a world class public research university. Where else in the world is there such a place? Nowhere.

Call it the UO International Graduate Institute of Rural Medicine & Rural Hospital Development, and comprise it of five institutes (Rural Hospital Development, U.S. and International Rural Hospital Law, Rural Hospital Architecture, Rural Hospital Computer Systems Development, and Waterborne Disease Prevention) and four schools (Rural Family Medicine, Nutrition and Preventive Medicine, Toxicology, and Rural Epidemiology). And eventually put names to all of those. For example, “Steve Jobs Institute for Rural Hospital Computer Systems Development” would be great!

But one matter needs a credo: Civic Stadium. What is it that we believe as a community? And what legacy has brought us to that belief?

Our use of the proceeds from the sale of Civic Stadium is what will write the credo of civic-minded thinking our ancestors intended, and that alone is what will keep the legacy of Civic Stadium alive for future generations.

Our declaration should be:
Whereas the need for athletic fields in Eugene has been met by schools and the city, be it resolved that:
> Civic Stadium and its land be sold to the highest bidder;
> all proceeds from the sale be used by Eugene School District 4J to establish Civic Stadium Trust Fund, a fund dedicated solely to the purchase, maintenance, and upgrading of the student-used computer systems;
> the establishing principal of the fund be invested into perpetuity and only the investment returns be regularly spent as needed;
> Civic Stadium Trust Fund be welcoming to contributions from all sources so the legacy of Civic Stadium can include the goodwill of all generations;
> the District 4J School Board be responsible for the fund’s expenditures;
> and any computers abandoned by District 4J be given free to any Lane County school districts in need of such equipment.

Building a rural hospital in south Eugene will annually pump millions of dollars into our local economy for as long as rural medicine is practiced, which will be for at least the next 70 years — the lifespan of Civic Stadium.

Steven A. Sylwester first recommended that a new hospital be built at the Civic Stadium site on September 1, 2005, and then did so again on September 24, 2009. See:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Simple Measures of Resolve: War & Forgiveness

In the following two articles, you will notice I made a change from Good Friday in the first article to the Fourth of July in the second article as the day for my proposed presidential pardons. Though I have no problem with Good Friday being the day for presidential pardons, I can easily see how that might trouble some people. In pondering what might be a better solution, the obvious choice became the Fourth of July — our nation's Independence Day!

* * *

We Owe the Troops an Exit


Steven A. Sylwester
Eugene, Oregon
August 31st, 2010
12:35 pm

War is about killing and destruction — it is evil — and it should never be in any way sanitized or otherwise made to be acceptable. The doings of war should be and should forever remain morally reprehensible, and war should be universally condemned by all civilized people.

That said, war happens anyway. And so we need to create simple measures of our resolve to do the right thing, even in the face of our own participation in evil. If we then fail at those simple measures of resolve, we are probably failing all around in every regard that truly matters, because "the right thing" at that point is no longer perceptible in our thinking or in our actions.

I suggest two simple measures of our resolve to do the right thing:

First, if an Afghan female ever escapes to the sanctuary of a U.S. military camp and there asks for asylum, she should be granted permanent irrevocable asylum without question and without delay, and should then be evacuated to the U.S. without prior approval from the Afghanistan government. Once the female arrives in the U.S., she should be given a new identity, and should be safely sheltered, cared for, and educated in preparation for her new life as an American citizen.

Second, every year on Good Friday, one U.S. combat veteran should be released from prison in every state in the nation with a presidential pardon and with sufficient resources to successfully reintegrate into American society. Yes, I mean let 50 prisoners who once served our nation honorably during combat go free — and do that every year!

Both of my "simple measures of resolve to do the right thing" are simple. Yet I doubt we have the resolve to do either one of them.

Regarding the war in Afghanistan, I assert that: 1) sending U.S. troops into Afghanistan by commercial air is wrong and against The Geneva Conventions because doing so invites terrorism that endangers civilians, 2) it is against the U.S. Constitution to send State National Guard troops to Afghanistan, 3) the U.S. Congress and the State governors are failing to perform their constitutional duties regarding the National Guard, and 4) the war in Afghanistan is constitutionally illegal.

I explain my assertions at:

* * *

Isaiah 45:5-7 (American Standard Version)

I am Jehovah, and there is none else; besides me there is no God. I will gird thee, though thou hast not known me; that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me: I am Jehovah, and there is none else.

I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things.

* * *

God help us. Amen

Steven A. Sylwester

* * * * * * * *

Overcriminalization: Attacking a Dangerous Precedent

Posted February 4th, 2011 at 5:00pm in Rule of Law


Steven A. Sylwester, Eugene, Oregon on at said:

Maintaining the presumption of innocence until guilt can be proven is essential to American criminal justice. It helps to remember Blackstone’s formulation: “better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” Perspective is everything.

The English jurist William Blackstone, who authored his formulation in his “Commentaries on the Laws of England” (1760s), hearkened back to Abraham’s negotiation with God concerning the fate of Sodom (Genesis 18:22-33). The formulation does not describe forgiveness, nor does it recommend lackadaisical jurisprudence. Rather, it struggles to balance the need for law and order with a plain recognition of the human condition, for as Saint Paul observed: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

I would go one more step — an afterwards step. American criminal justice needs to be tempered by the following Bible story about the woman caught in adultery:

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
(John 8:2-11)

* * *

The most telling words in that story are these: “… those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, …” Yes, the older ones first. One must ask: Are the older ones among us leading the way in 2011? And are the younger ones following? It seems to me a Dubious Achievement Award should be given out as needed in America today, that being a T-shirt emblazoned: I THREW THE FIRST STONE.

I wrote a long comment to “A SALUTE TO OUR VETERANS” by Mike Huckabee at:

The following excerpt from that comment is appropriate here:

And so I offer the following four suggestions on this Veteran’s Day.

1. On the Fourth of July every year, the President of the United States should pardon fifty federal prisoners (one for every State in the Union) who are U.S. military combat veterans, and should grant each of the pardoned veterans the resources necessary to again become productive citizens. Why do it? Contemplate Mark 15:1-15 and then ask yourself this: If the Roman rulers in Jerusalem in Jesus’ time were willing to release one prisoner every year at the Feast, even someone guilty of insurrection and murder such as Barabbas, then why cannot the U.S. president pardon and release select federal prisoners who at an earlier time in their lives served honorably to preserve our nation’s liberty as American troops in combat? Many veterans have suffered their whole lives after leaving the military because of the horrors they endured in combat, and too often that suffering has led to crime and prison. What I propose would force us as a nation to own our responsibility for the aftermath of war, and it would also create hope for many veterans who now deserve a second chance at becoming productive citizens.

* * *

What is justice? I do not know the answer to that question in every case, but I do know I would rather be among the first who “began to go away” than be among the last. A person should know his/her sin, and society must protect itself from those who are dangerous. But much more often than not, the answer to the question “What is justice?” is just one word: forgiveness.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2) Therefore, regarding my proposal to grant presidential pardons every Fourth of July to fifty federal prisoners who are U.S. military combat veterans, let the advisory panel for the president be comprised of peers of the prisoners, that is: former brothers and sisters in arms — decorated U.S. military combat veterans. They will know whom to bless. Trust them.

Steven A. Sylwester

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Edison High School, Eugene, Oregon

Its $22 million shortfall gives District 4J the opportunity to do the right thing. During flush times, “the right thing” is banished, because its politically incorrect truths make too many people feel uncomfortable. But now is a different time. When tears flow, sometimes minds open, and opportunity will then find its champions.

Our predicament requires triage thinking: doing the greatest good for the most people with the available resources. In triage, some victims are not helped, but “greatest good” thinking can go a long way toward helping everyone.

District 4J should: 1) transform Edison School from a neighborhood elementary school to a citywide high school for Eugene’s most brilliant mathematics and science students; 2) transform North Eugene High School from a regional general high school to a citywide Special Education high school focused on preparing students for blue collar work, independent contractor self-employment, and/or apprenticeships in union and/or shop trades; and 3) create a citywide on-campus middle school at South Eugene High School so Eugene’s most brilliant eighth grade students can enroll in high school classes.

The basic Education Standard should be: Every Child 21st-Century-Literate at No Less Than Grade Level While Being Actively Challenged and Fully Facilitated to Achieve Personal Potentials in All Core Academics.

At the top end, the Education Standard should be: Students Must Be Advanced to the Academic Level at Which They Can Succeed While Being Challenged.

Schools teach to the middle. Therefore, more on-topic learning happens if students are grouped according to their academic ability.

> > > > > The Above Has Exactly 250 Words < < < < <

My basic premise is: constitutional equality of personhood always requires an equal opportunity for all people to achieve their personal potentials, but it cannot necessarily require the very same actual opportunity for all children at any particular K-12 grade level when abilities are unequal from person to person in proven proficiencies and/or in mastered skills, and are therefore also unequal from person to person in realizable potentials, both personal and academic. The capacity to eventually learn something with average competence should never be confused with the capacity to quickly learn something with surpassing expertise. The uncomfortable truth is simply this: some children have vastly superior intelligence when compared to other children, and vastly superior intelligence will reliably result in vastly superior academic performance if stifling circumstances do not cause the most brilliant children to disengage from the learning process.

The United States requires that thirteen years of free public education be provided to all children within its borders. Some might argue that the commitment is only to provide an opportunity to learn the standard K-12 curriculum and nothing more. I argue that the commitment is to provide thirteen years of education according to the needs and the abilities of each student, and that the commitment is not in every case fulfilled when the standard K-12 curriculum is accomplished.

As it happens, District 4J agrees with me, and its Duck Link program in partnership with the University of Oregon provides supporting evidence for my claim. See: .

However, it is one thing to offer Duck Link, and it is another thing entirely to make it logistically doable. As it is, only students at SEHS have close enough proximity to the UO campus to reasonably take advantage of Duck Link, but even they too suffer a hardship because the UO daily class schedule and term schedules do not at all coincide with 4J school schedules. My proposed Edison High School would solve this problem by operating entirely according to the UO schedules, therefore making Duck Link participation simple and easy — and less than eight blocks away!

Edison Elementary School currently enrolls 320 students in its K-5 program. See: . Its staff numbers 35 employees, including 16 teachers and 3 specialists.

If a four-year Edison High School enrolled 240 students, each of the four current Eugene high schools would be contributing approximately 15 students per grade level per year to its enrollment. Edison would have other enrollment sources, too, including local students who now either homeschool or enroll at private schools (Marist or Oak Hill), and perhaps including out-of-district students who are willing to pay tuition. Though Edison would have very few electives and no athletics, its mathematics and laboratory science curriculum would be unsurpassed, because it would actually include class offerings from the UO Catalog. The Catch: Edison would have selective enrollment based on tough requirements, both to get in and to stay in, and this necessary policy would bother some people in Eugene.

Though an equity argument opposed to alternative schools might be objectively correct, it can still be wrongheaded in the final analysis if it misses the whole point of what Education is about (see: Nancy Willard commentary “Alternative schools breed inequity: In a time of budget crisis, Eugene school officials should consider scrapping their two-tiered system” published in The Register-Guard on Sunday, December 26, 2010). Education is about the individual student — each and every student. The success or failure of District 4J is something measured at the individual student level, not at the system level. Furthermore, that “success or failure” is best measured at the extremes, meaning: in the ability-appropriate challenging instruction provided by 4J to genius students at the one extreme and to functionally illiterate students at the other — if the extremes are being well served, then the middle is likely being well served, too.

Another point needs to be stated clearly. Unless you are genius-level brilliant yourself or your child or spouse is genius-level brilliant, you simply have no idea what it means to be genius-level brilliant. What ordinary people can possibly imagine about geniuses falls significantly short of the true reality in most cases. Geniuses might be passably ordinary in five out of ten ways, but there is nothing at all ordinary about the other five ways — the ways in which their genius manifests. Even so, geniuses are human: they need love and companionship like everyone else, and they want to fit in with a peer group that understands them. To purposely deny geniuses their peer group is an outright cruelty in my opinion. The abiding truth is this: genius children are children at risk.

Edison would be unlike any other high school in Eugene. Its students would routinely finish two years of college during high school, and would thereby earn an advantage in their career pursuits. Some might argue that International High School already offers these potentials to 4J students, but two things would be overlooked in their argument: 1) IHS does not have selective enrollment, so it must “teach to the middle” at the general-student-body level, while Edison would “teach to the middle” somewhere above the 95th Percentile; and 2) the IHS curriculum is humanities-based while the Edison curriculum would be mathematics-and-science-based, a difference so basic that it is wrong to assume an equivalency. Simply, IHS serves a different sort of student than would Edison serve, and both sorts of students deserve to have a school alternative within 4J.

District 4J could make Edison High School happen in Eugene. The United States needs it. Eugene needs it. There is not one good reason to not do it. It is entirely doable, and doing it would benefit every other high school in Eugene, because teaching to the middle with most of the very best students gone would be much, much easier. Nobody loses. Everybody wins.

Likewise, “everybody wins” with my proposal for a newly focused NEHS. Though the loss of a regional general high school in the North Eugene area would trouble many people for many good reasons, the net gain for all of Eugene would be enormous. What I propose are two distinct and separate high schools that together share facility resources on the NEHS campus: S.T.R.I.V.E. (Skills Training Required In Vocational Education) Academy @ NEHS and 21st Century Tech @ NEHS. While S.T.R.I.V.E. Academy could rightly be called a Special Education school, 21st Century Tech would be a top-notch academic tech school par excellence. In fact, some of Eugene’s most brilliant students would find it difficult to choose between Edison High School and 21st Century Tech, especially if their career ambitions were in mechanical engineering.

I predict that the very reason why my NEHS proposal should be done will be the very reason why 4J administrators and the principals at SEHS, Churchill, and Sheldon will not want it done at all, and that “very reason” has to do with the peculiar calculus of Special Education funding in Oregon — money! Help yourself: read and study the document “Special Education Funding in Oregon: An Assessment of Current Practice with Preliminary Recommendations” dated August 7, 2007, which was submitted to the Office of Student Learning and Partnerships at Oregon Department of Education by Thomas B. Parrish, Ed.D. and Jenifer J. Harr, Ph.D. from the American Institutes for Research. The document can be accessed at:

The “Overview of Oregon’s Special Education Funding Formula” found on pages 4 and 5 of the document begins with the following quote: Public education funding amounts in Oregon are based on average daily membership (ADM) counts of students in each district. Under this approach of allocating state funds, special education students receive twice the per-pupil funding provided for a non-special education student. According to a report issued by the state’s Legislative Revenue Office (June, 2006), this “double weighting reflects a national study in 1988 that showed districts were on average spending about twice the norm for services to special education students” (p. 5).

In addition, two major adjustments may be applied to the amount of funds special education students generate. First, districts must receive approval from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to qualify more than 11 percent of its students for the special education weight. This is referred to as the 11 percent cap waiver, and students above the cap who are waived under a complex process generate a partial funding weight as opposed to the full weight of 2.0 for students falling under the cap. In 2003-04, districts applying for waived students generated an average weight of 1.36 for these students, with this amount ranging from an average of 1.1 to 1.9. Second, the state has a High Cost Disabilities fund for reimbursing districts when the State School Fund (SSF) expenditures for a given child are in excess of $30,000 for the fiscal year. The total statewide allocation for this purpose is currently set at $18 million per year. If approved claims for High Cost Disabilities funds exceed this set allocation, all such claims are prorated accordingly.

According to , the total combined enrollment in District 4J high schools is 5,622 students. Operating from the assumption that 4J is minimally claiming 11% of its students as “special education” students, fully 618 high school students are receiving twice the per-pupil funding provided for a non-special education student from state funds — yes, TWICE the per-pupil funding! According to the “Special Education Funding …” document, in 2003-04, Oregon school districts with more than 930 Special Education students received $7,387 in Revenues per Special Education Student, including state base, cap waivers, high cost, and federal IDEA funds (Exhibit 7 on Page 17). If all 618 special education students now in the 4J high schools enrolled in my proposed S.T.R.I.V.E. Academy, $4,565,166 in government funding would go to NEHS for those students. If NEHS maintained its current enrollment of 1,038 (including the 32 students in its alternative high school), then 420 students would be enrolled in my proposed 21st Century Tech. At $3,693 in estimated revenues per non-special education student, 21st Century Tech would contribute $1,551,060 in revenues to the NEHS budget, making a grand total of $6,116,226 in funding for NEHS. By comparison, if SEHS and Sheldon both maintained their current enrollment of 1,564 students each, those high schools would each receive $5,775,852 in funding, which is $340,374 less funding than NEHS would receive, even though NEHS would be educating 526 fewer students — such is the impact of government funding for special education.

* * *

ASIDE: According to Colt Gill, the superintendent of Bethel School District in Eugene:
Last update: 12-23-10
Bethel currently receives about $5,800 per student/per year from the state of Oregon. Even with “cut days” that is about $35 a day. …
According to the Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office, since the 2003-05 biennium Oregon spending on education has increased by about 16%.

According to:
Eugene 4J School District has $11,034 District Revenue / Student.

It is unknown to me how much revenue District 4J currently receives from the state of Oregon on a “per student per year” basis, and how that revenue total breaks down to account for special education funding. But what is known from above is 4J received about $7,387 in revenues per special education student in 2003-04, and Oregon spending on education has increased by about 16% since the 2003-05 biennium. Simple math then suggests 4J is now receiving about $8,570 in revenues per special education student and about $4,285 in revenues per non-special education student.

District 4J will keep it all a mystery, because Oregon law does not require special education funding to be actually spent on special education, either directly or indirectly, or to even be accountable at all (see below). But that is unacceptable, at least to me. Consequently, know this: my calculations in the paragraph immediately above this “ASIDE” were based on 2003-04 numbers — numbers that are now out of date by seven years and that should be increased by about 16% at the very least.

* * *

Plainly, in my proposal, NEHS could afford every possible advantage, so its success should be assured, even in these difficult economic times. But the opposition from 4J administrators and the high school principals is predictable. They will beat the drum that glorifies mainstreaming for special education students, and they will put forward the “Special Education Funding …” document quote: in 2005, over 70 percent of all students in special education in Oregon spent less than 20 percent of the school day outside regular education classrooms (the least restrictive federal placement reported). Although the percentage of special education students served in this highly integrated setting has been gradually growing across the nation over the past several years, Oregon is still well above the national average of somewhat less than 60 percent. (Page 7)

In response, my quotes from the same document include: Another respondent expressed the opinion that many special education directors in Oregon have no idea how their special education revenues are being spent by the district. A third respondent noted the tension between the desire for flexibility and the need for accountability. A superintendent present at one of the meetings said that disparities between revenues and expenditures should not be a concern because “all superintendents would agree that these formulas were meant to be revenue, rather than expenditure, based.” The point seemed to be that the formula was designed as a basis for determining revenues overall rather than an attempt to be prescriptive as to how funds should be spent. (Page 11) And: Concern about a lack of consistency in high quality special education practice throughout the state was regularly emphasized. These variations were partly attributed to fiscal flexibility (i.e., special education revenues are not required to be spent on special education services in Oregon) and to varying local attitudes toward special education. (Page 12) And finally: A key determination in regard to flexibility is that state special education funds in Oregon need not be spent on special education. This may be contentious if the concerns of possible substantial variations in special education service provision across the state are borne out. (Page 26)

Plainly, in Oregon public schools, doing “the right thing” is doing whatever you can get away with when it comes to spending special education funding. However, in the world of black-and-white, even children can identify a cheat. So let me be the first one to ask: What in the world is going on here?

But mine is not an expose; mine is an attempt to go forward with a better idea that solves problems with available resources. If there are any past wrongs in District 4J concerning the spending of special education funding, let there be quiet about it and amnesty. But let us go forward with The Lord’s Prayer in mind, especially the words: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” In asking for that blessing from Our Father, we carry the obligation to grant the same to our selves and to each other in all that we do. In these difficult economic times, “trust me” accountability will not satisfy angry parents who are advocating for their children.

In my own case, I am no longer in the fight, except on principle as a citizen who is concerned about the future of America. My advocacy is no longer the shrill and insistent advocacy of a parent standing in defense of his own children, it is instead an advocacy in retrospect that is not yet too far removed. Parents who have survived their children’s K-12 public education generally do not look back, except in relief that their war is over. However, I learned a lot in the campaign I fought on behalf of my two children, and learning is something to be shared.

The basic truth is this: schools win through attrition, and school administrators understand that inevitability very clearly — that time is on their side. Simply, theirs is a career job that spans decades while yours as a parent is a child that passes from grade to grade on a yearly basis while growing up. More simply, they sometimes do not care about your child unless you are willing to always make them care about your child, because theirs is a temporary job obligation while yours is an eternal flesh-and-blood obligation — that is the war.

When parents grow weary of elementary school, they expect middle school will be different. When they then realize middle school is not different, it is already half over, and so their hope gets focused on high school. When that hope gets dashed at a midway point, survival mode sets in while the family focus turns to hopes for college for a child now grown to a young adult. Thirteen years is gone in a flash. Consequently, the status quo is maintained — the schools win, your child gets a diploma, and everyone is happy.

My two children are genius-level brilliant. Both of them earned full-ride academic merit scholarships to the UO. According to District 4J testing, the oldest was already reading with comprehension at an adult level beyond high school level during her first month of first grade. She skipped sixth grade, and graduated from NEHS at age sixteen. The youngest was a National Merit Finalist who graduated from NEHS with 100 credits already on her UO transcript. I know the needs of the top-end student very well.

Six years ago, I was formally trained as a Read Right tutor at NEHS because I agreed to volunteer as a reading tutor all day every day for three quarters of the school year. The other three people who went through training with me were full-time paid teachers. I was assigned to tutor select high school students on an ongoing regular basis. Most of them were special education students, and some of them were functionally illiterate when I began as their tutor. By “functionally illiterate,” I mean they were unable to read a sentence comprised of three one-syllable words in a first grade book — and I am not kidding! To say that I was stunned by it all is an understatement. Even so, I persisted, and I can tell you from firsthand experience that it is possible to teach a functionally illiterate high school special education student how to read in less than six months if you work one-on-one with the student on a daily basis within the context of a four-person grouping — and I mean going from near scratch to near regular grade level reading ability. Many (most? all?) special education students can learn to read. Read Right believes anyone who is capable of coherent meaningful conversation is also capable of reading at grade level, and I now share in that belief without a doubt. Consequently, I know the needs of the bottom-end student very well, too.

And so I am expert in my own opinion based on my own life experiences, and that is a significant amount of expertise in this case.

What I propose for NEHS must not be misunderstood. Yes, I referred to my proposal as “two distinct and separate high schools,” with the dominant school being “a citywide Special Education high school focused on preparing students for blue collar work, independent contractor self-employment, and/or apprenticeships in union and/or shop trades.” But I have acknowledged that, in 2005, over 70 percent of all students in special education in Oregon spent less than 20 percent of the school day outside regular education classrooms, and I assume that statistic is at least maintaining itself in the present. So — getting very real — I am stating plainly that not all District 4J students should be educated as if they were preparing for a future at a university somewhere. In other words, all public high schools should not be university prep schools. SEHS, Churchill, and Sheldon can continue on as university prep schools, but NEHS should be something else — something in addition to the usual — something with a curriculum designed specifically to achieve a different purpose.

But remember my proposed 21st Century Tech @ NEHS is “a top-notch academic tech school par excellence” that would attract “some of Eugene’s most brilliant students” — students who would hope to continue their education at M.I.T., Stanford, or Caltech after high school. The academics at NEHS would have to serve the needs of those top-end students without fail. So bring my proposal into tighter focus.

Basically, I propose creating a “shared interests” place at NEHS that cannot otherwise exist in District 4J because of the $22 million shortfall. If the entirety of all high school special education funding is directed solely to NEHS, 4J could afford to equip that one school with every bit of cutting-edge modern technology in the academic classrooms and also in the shop classrooms. When I attended Churchill High School in 1970, every public high school in Eugene had the full range of shop classes, including auto mechanics. Four years ago, NEHS was the only 4J high school that still had any shop classes at all to my knowledge, and those classes were limited to wood shop and metal shop. My National Merit Finalist daughter took two years of wood shop and one year of metal shop during her high school years at NEHS — and she loved every minute of those classes! Most of her classmates in those shop classes were bottom-end students, including some who were certainly special education students. Hands-on learning of shop techniques, tools skills, and craftsmanship proficiencies in a fully equipped shop with a teacher who can actually make things is something entirely different than textbook-based learning of an academic subject in a sit-down classroom with a lecturing teacher. A science laboratory class comes close to a shop class if you consider a country mile away to be in close proximity.

It is a crying shame that shop classes have gone away in Eugene’s public high schools. Actually, it is an outrage! And it is just wrong. The sort of thinking that thinks every high school graduate should continue on at a university is the sort of thinking that does away with high school shop classes. It is stupid thinking, because it removes valuable learning opportunities from public education for future engineers, future carpenters, future cabinetmakers, future furniture makers, future welders, future metalworkers, future die and tool makers, future machinists, future forgers and casters, future auto mechanics, future plumbers, … and future homeowners. Stupid! What are we doing? Not only does America not make anything anymore, we are purposely making sure that nobody knows how to make anything anymore. Right here, right now, we should force ourselves to turn the tide, and we should start in Eugene at NEHS.

S.T.R.I.V.E. Academy @ NEHS and 21st Century Tech @ NEHS could function together with a very effective synergy. The former would have assigned enrollment, and the latter would probably have selective enrollment because of its popularity. If selective enrollment at 21st Century Tech became necessary, I would recommend selecting as many top-end students as possible — the future engineer types — because their influence on the S.T.R.I.V.E. Academy students could be enormous. It would be very important to have high-achieving excellence in the building to help create and demonstrate a fine-working educational model, and to thereby maintain self-esteem and self-worth for all of NEHS. If I could, I would hire former Sheldon High School football coach Marty Johnson to be in charge of Effort & Excellence as Special Assistant to the NEHS Principal. That might seem silly to some, but I am sincere. Johnson is someone who cares deeply, who is a proven leader, who knows how to strategize toward short-term and long-term goals and yet how to think on his feet in the immediate present, who can inspire the full range of high school boys to achieve determined excellence, and who graduated from Marshfield High School in 1979, meaning: his upbringing was in a largely blue collar community.

If anyone living in Lane County, Oregon, does not yet appreciate the value of an excellent coach, they have been totally ignoring the UO football team. A coach is a teacher, but a teacher is not necessarily a coach. A coach is an administrator, but an administrator is not necessarily a coach. A coach is a motivator, but a motivator is not necessarily a coach. A coach is an improviser, but an improviser is not necessarily a coach. An excellent coach will bring an ingredient to a striving for success that no one else can be relied upon to bring, and some endeavors will fail simply because that ingredient is missing. Marty Johnson (or someone like him) could be crucial in establishing the culture at NEHS, and District 4J should think twice before deciding otherwise.

My proposed NEHS can only work if it completely breaks the mold — and I mean shatters the established mold, and then smashes it to smithereens! Three examples:

1) No required homework — none at all ever. The students would experience NEHS as a job, not as a school. When the job is over, the rest of the day is free. Teachers could assign optional self-enrichment homework to those students who request it, but such homework would not be allowed to affect a term grade.

2) The school day would be structured in six 80-minute periods with 6-minute breaks between each period, which translates into an 8.5-hour day. The school day would start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 5:00 p.m. There would be no study halls. Instead, every school day would consist of five instructional periods and one lunch period, and one of the instructional periods every day would be twice per week dedicated to team sports physical education, twice per week dedicated to choral singing, and once per week dedicated to strategy games with a focus ranging from playing board games and card games to learning the strategies of football, basketball, and baseball. The lunch period would be divided into two 40-minute segments to allow for optional student-initiated club meetings during half of the period.

3) No interscholastic sports teams — none at all ever. NEHS would practice an everyone-plays ethic during its P.E. instructional periods, and would concentrate on developing coordination skills, physical conditioning, gamesmanship, sportsmanship, and team spirit. The dominant P.E. sport would be half-court basketball, because four games could be played in the gym simultaneously, thereby allowing 40 students to be physically active in game play at all times, with an additional 24 students regularly substituting into the games if eight-person teams were the norm.


Though the two schools at NEHS would be “distinct and separate,” they would nonetheless have some crossovers. For example, P.E., choral singing, strategy games, shop classes, and lunchtime clubs would be all-NEHS crossovers, at least in part. The two schools would have to be in synch because of their unavoidable need to share many key facilities: the main computer laboratory, the science laboratories, the shops, and the gymnasium. Therefore, an 8.5-hour school day would be a shared reality — and that is enough time spent.

However, some 21st Century Tech students would certainly take Advanced Placement classes, and they would be motivated to do well on the national tests. Only in the case of A.P. classes would I ever waive the “no required homework” rule at NEHS.

Why? Because the average special education student is functioning at a disadvantage that is being caused by an uncontrollable and reliably unreliable outside force. That force can only rightly be described as a circumstance, perhaps known, but just as likely unknown. It could be a dangerously dysfunctional family that hides abuse and violence; or an unbearable emotional distress being caused by separated or divorced parents, a family health catastrophe, or the death of a loved one; or a strongly medicated mental illness of some sort, either in the student or in the student’s family; or the misery of transient uncertain homelessness; or the burdensome codependency of functionally illiterate parents; or family joblessness and poverty; or abject hunger, either for food or for love; or God knows what — a mysterious despair that is as much destructive as it is unknowable.

Do I overstate? Or do I understate? All I truly know is this: Functionally illiterate high school sophomores and juniors can be taught to read with confidence and competence in six to nine months time if a caring literate adult will engage them one-on-one until a breakthrough is accomplished. And, yes, it is a breakthrough — the ability to read is fully present in those students as a potential, but its actuality remains blocked by a circumstance until a breakthrough occurs. The countenance of a long-time special education student noticeably comes alive when he/she can suddenly read. The glee is like that of a toddler who can suddenly walk. Imagine a frustrated student who is broken in self-loathing because he/she detests the personal embarrassment of not being able to read. Now imagine the sudden breakthrough: the moment when the student first comprehends that he/she is actually reading at will, and how it then happens that a reluctant reader now wants it to be his/her turn to read all of the time. That breakthrough is a life-changing precious moment when it occurs, and I think a high percentage of special education students are capable of experiencing that moment.

Maybe there are the profoundly retarded. Maybe there are the severely autistic. Maybe I am wrong in some cases. Maybe I am creating a false hope. But maybe not, maybe I am correct beyond any reasonable expectation.

I was born without a left hand. Nobody taught me how to tie my shoes. My father — a college professor in elementary education — could not figure out how to tie shoelaces with just one hand, so I figured out how to do it myself by inventing my own way. But the world is meaner than what one child alone can in every case overcome without help. My savior was an older girl named Jody Schwich who ruled my childhood neighborhood enough to institute and enforce an “everyone plays” ethic in the sports games being played.
Jody Schwich remembers: “… When I was 6 in 1956, I used to throw a tennis ball up against the side of the “Hackman house” where we lived and catch it with my baseball glove. Paul Rosel (the music professor who lived next door) noticed that I (the baseball coach’s daughter) was throwing off the wrong foot. He corrected that and should receive partial credit for the fact that 14 years later I was an All-American softball player with the Utah Shamrocks. …”

In early June 1960, I celebrated my sixth birthday and my family moved into the two-story white house at the east end of Faculty Lane in Seward, Nebraska. In the linked photograph — — North is to the left and East is to the top. Faculty Lane is the curved street running East and West on the lower left side of the photograph. On the south side of Faculty Lane directly across the street from my family’s house are a double tennis court and a single tennis court separated by a narrow north-south parking lot. Just east of my family’s house is the campus gymnasium and indoor swimming pool complex with a wrestling and weight training room in its basement. At the south end of that complex is the campus football field encircled by the campus track. On the east side of the track is a raised area known as East Field, which served as the football practice area and as the baseball field. At the time, the campus served Concordia Teachers College and Concordia High School, so all of the home games for both the college and the high school happened just across the street from where I lived. I was granted free admission to all campus events as the child of a faculty member, so I watched every game played.

In the summer of 1960 in the four two-story white houses at the east end of Faculty Lane, there lived 20 children, aged six months to ten years old — 15 boys and 5 girls. Jody Schwich and Eddie Hackmann were the two oldest at age ten. Jody’s father was the college baseball coach, and Jody was the ultimate tomboy, so Jody was more-or-less in charge of the games, and there were always games being played — always! The parents were not involved in the neighborhood games at all; the neighborhood children played on their own in the old tradition of “go outside and play.”

The campus was our playground. We played tennis on the campus courts. We played football on the campus lawn on the south side of Faculty Lane just west of the tennis courts. We played bicycle hide-and-seek throughout the entire main campus area with home base being the front steps of Weller Hall at the crest of the half-moon. At the north end of the shared driveway between the two middle white houses on Faculty Lane was a two-car garage with a basketball court in front. Behind the Schwich house was a small baseball diamond, and across the street at the west end of Faculty Lane was the baseball diamond for St. John’s Lutheran School (K-8), with the school being located just south of the outfield. Concordia is a Lutheran college. In every house on Faculty Lane, there lived the family of a faculty member, so all of us neighborhood children were enrolled in the parochial school.

In that idyllic childhood setting, Jody Schwich made sure that I was included in every game from June 1960 until August 1961 when her family moved away. To my knowledge, she included me without being told to do so, and she alone was responsible for the “everyone plays” ethic — and she was only ten years old in 1960. Because of her, I became skilled in playing baseball, basketball, and football, and also eventually tennis, racquetball, swimming, wrestling, track, soccer, volleyball, and golf, too. Sports completely defined my life until my junior year in high school, and I cannot possibly overstate that. Sports participation was the very joy of my life, especially during the endless sandlot play of my childhood through eighth grade.

Why does my childhood story matter?

School administrators need to appreciate that their schools with their curriculum and their professional teachers are sometimes most to blame when education fails and least to credit when education succeeds. My peers always included me, but coaches in organized play often did not. In sandlot, I got to pick teams as much as anyone else, and was usually the quarterback for whatever team I played on if the game was football. When coaches decided, I rarely got to play. What do you do if you are the coach and one of your players has only one hand?

The same question holds for teachers, except with a twist. What do you do in the classroom with students who are disabled in some fashion — a bit slow — a bit stupid — a bit uncoordinated in their thinking — a bit unconventional in their logic? Unfortunately, those students become the bench-warmers; the academic game is played without them. And that is the truth of the matter: the academic classroom is a place of competition and judgment, a place that is often unkind and unforgiving, and a place where the joy of learning can become the fear of failure and humiliation for the bottom-end student. The “everyone plays” ethic is not practiced in the average American public high school classroom, because impatience does not allow for it — the model is not the endless inning of baseball, it is any game in which time runs out.

The following is a long excerpt from a letter I wrote to Bill & Melinda Gates on May 13, 2009, in which I describe some experiences I had six years ago as a volunteer Read Right tutor at NEHS. The letter was seeking support for an idea of mine now known as "NASA Academy of the Physical Sciences" (NAPS):
To whole letter can be read at:

Know this: The students who were functionally illiterate when I started tutoring them were reading well six months later. Some who began at a second or third grade level were actually reading at a ninth grade level or better just six months later. That is what is possible. That is what I witnessed with my own eyes and ears.

But what impressed me the most was the kindness, gentleness, and patience that these poor-performing students had for each other when they were in the non-threatening environment we had created for them in the tutoring classroom, and how honestly encouraging they were to each other as they struggled to learn how to read. It was at once both heartbreaking and wonderful. More than that, it was a very rewarding experience that revealed much about the difficult divide that confounds effective education reform. Why? Because the classrooms I had grown up in and that my daughters excelled in were places of intense intellectual competition where something so simple as kindness was not always present. It is no wonder to me now that the poor-performing students fall behind, and that they eventually give up - they don't stand a chance.

But there is a solution, and it is to be found in the simplest and most amazing of simple observations, and I can tell you with certainty that it is absolutely true. If you want to solve the problem of educating the slow learners who become the poor students who become the drop outs, you MUST start with this scientific fact: Every brain has a discernible brain speed at which it functions while learning; brain speeds vary from person to person; brain speed functioning is negatively impacted by stress; and slow normal brain speed can slowly be sped up to the point of classroom speed with no loss of skill, proficiency, and comprehension if both personal competency and personal confidence can be demonstrated by the brain to the brain (meaning: the slow learner drops the "slow" from his/her identity and simply becomes a learner who approaches learning with calm self-confidence).

How do I know this? My father is Dr. Robert Sylwester, Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Oregon. He is a world-renowned expert on current developments in brain research, and the implications of those developments for education. He has had a relationship with Scientific Learning for many years, and writes a column for their website ( The Scientific Learning story and its many discoveries are told here ( But, in layman's terms, it is essentially what I have described above referring to "brain speed."

The problem going forward is the problem of capitalism, which is the profit motive that controls intellectual property rights. In the case of Scientific Learning, the copyrights and patents have to do with computer hardware and software. In the case of Read Right, the copyrights have to do with materials describing the tutoring procedures, defining the reading libraries, and providing the progress tally forms. But everything my father told me about the scientific discoveries made by Scientific Learning using elaborate computer set-ups is true, and is plainly observable with the naked eye in a four-person tutoring group if you know what you are looking for. In fact, it is all as plainly visible as a snow line is on pavement as you drive from rain at low elevation to snow at high elevation - it is that undeniable: starkly plain and sharply defined. And what you are witnessing when it manifests so clearly is the brain speed of the learner.

It is a truly remarkable phenomenon to behold, and it borders on miraculous what can occur in learning how to read if the "brain speed" reality is made the guiding light. Students fight it at first as you insist that they slow down, sometimes way down - sometimes slower than they have ever talked before. But then suddenly it happens: you find their natural brain speed >> and they can read! It is startling for a high school kid who has been stuck in Special Ed for ten years with a dunce cap on his/her head to suddenly be able to read. I preached confidence when I tutored (as in: "I know you can do this"), but my spiel was not according to the copyrighted abracadabra terminology I was supposed to use. Against the plan, the kids needed confidence, and so I gave it to them in heaps - and in straight talk. Thinking back now, it was these three things: calm down, slow down, and you can do it. And they could.

Read Right had this simple belief: If a person can engage in meaningful conversation, that person can also read with comprehension. By what I have witnessed, I absolutely agree with that conclusion.

But there is another obstacle in the way of successful education reform - and it is horrific! Sadly, it too is about "the profit motive," and again the slow learner is the one who is potentially harmed. Remarkably, it is not a capitalist corporation doing harm by legally withholding effective learning tools and processes if its products are not purchased, it is the school system itself doing harm by holding students in an official Special Ed classification who no longer belong there. It is a fox guarding the hen house situation: slow learners have become a huge revenue source in the education finance equation because the site school and the site school district are paid significantly more by the government for educating students who are classified Special Ed than they are paid for educating normal students - so significantly more that deciding to do the wrong thing can be judged the right thing to do!

I witnessed this twice firsthand.

In one case, a girl I tutored was as close to being a zombie as anyone I have ever encountered; she was emotionally unreachable - she was a walking dead person who was unreliable to follow even the simplest procedure. I was completely stymied by her, so I begged my supervising teachers for any privileged information they could possibly give me to help me understand the girl. I found out the girl was adopted, and that her adoptive parents were an older couple with no other children. Also, I found out that the girl's biological mother was alcoholic. The girl was long-term Special Ed. All of that did not help me one bit. What finally helped was the gentle kindness of a boy who was also in her group of four. Every morning, the boy greeted her, even though she never responded back. And every morning, before we started the tutoring session, the boy told a funny story of what he had done the previous day, and eventually - finally - the girl smiled one day. And then one morning out of the blue, the girl wanted to tell her own story of something she had done the previous night. And the boy was all ears, and was genuinely interested in hearing the girl's story. And thereafter the girl actually started participating, ever so slowly at first. When that girl began her tutoring, she literally responded to books like a kindergarten student if she responded at all - it was weird. But once she actually started reading, her progress was faster than anything I ever witnessed as a tutor. Before five months was over, that girl was reading Jack London books out loud near flawlessly at first read (maybe one word error per page), including dramatic readings of odd dialect story conversations with unique phonetic word spellings. It was a stunning thing to behold (the Jack London books were at the twelfth grade level, and have very sophisticated complex sentences with challenging vocabulary throughout). We actually contemplated how to possibly make that girl a tutor's aide to legitimize keeping her around, because she had surpassed any need at all to remain in the program. Yet that girl was kept in Special Ed afterwards, and away from the standard curriculum. Imagine that. How do you explain something like that without contemplating evil?

The other case had a different twist. The girl was Special Ed since the beginning of her schooling, but was full of life and very talkative. She started at maybe a second grade level, and was very labored in her reading, though she was willing to try when it was her turn. Through the girl's story telling, it became obvious that she ran with a gang of troublesome losers, and that she submitted herself to the rule of the boys in the gang. As it happened, she was originally assigned to a tutoring group that included one of the boys she was subservient to. When that became apparent, we separated the two into different groups, and I kept the girl. Even so, the girl plainly felt the need to subordinate herself to boys by never excelling a boy who was in her company. One day I had had enough, so I excused myself and the girl from our group, and I took that girl out of the room into the hallway where I very seriously scolded her, and told her in no uncertain terms that she was better than any of the boys she was hanging around with, and that she needed to immediately and forever stop giving herself and her potential away. Wow! That girl changed thereafter. All she ever needed was permission to be all that she could be. She became determined. She wanted it to be her turn more frequently and longer - and she wanted to excel! Through dogged effort, that girl got fully to her own grade level with reliable competence and joyful, proud self-confidence. Her turnaround was so complete that one day I finally sprang the ultimate question to her without first talking with my supervising teacher. Even though a new term had already started and even though that girl had always been in Special Ed, I asked her if she would be willing to enter the standard curriculum classes at NEHS if I could open the door for her. Her response was an enthusiastic and very confident "Yes," and she was willing to start immediately, even knowing that she would be behind when she started. I made her ask her parents for their permission, and she eagerly ran home and ran back with permission in hand. Well, the NEHS teachers who should have then opened their classroom doors to that girl would not do so, and the administrators would not intervene - and I was done. In my mind, it was criminal that that girl was held back in Special Ed, and I could no longer in good conscience teach someone to read who would then not be allowed to learn to his/her fullest potential.

One other tutoring story is revealing. A big sophomore boy was one of my students. He was a mess, and he was just plain dumb - a functional illiterate. He was always late, always eating something, and always confused. Slowly, I got that boy to focus, but it was two steps forward and only one step back if I was lucky. Finally, it kicked in: calm down, slow down, and you can do it. Suddenly, the boy could read a four-word sentence made up of one-syllable words - and for him that was an accomplishment! The boy was African-American (which is rare in Eugene) and likable, and he wanted to learn, but he was defeated academically - just broken. He needed hope. When that boy finally got just a glimmer of hope, he became like a bull in a china shop. The Read Right program has a multitude of procedures that I more-or-less ignored, both because they were silly and because they worked in spite of themselves due to their luck-on to the "brain speed" phenomenon. In the case of this boy, I quietly abandoned Read Right altogether. More than anything, that boy simply needed to read to the bottom of the page, and then feel the supreme accomplishment of turning the page - and I was not going to deny him that accomplishment, no matter how many errors he made getting there. It was wild. He wanted to advance faster than he deserved to advance, and I let him to a point. When I quit volunteering as a tutor and had to come clean with how I had made him a special case, I argued with the supervising teacher that she should maintain my strategy with the boy. She refused, and placed him back where he belonged in the program. It saddened me greatly, because I feared the boy's spirit would be broken. After I left and the supervising teacher came to appreciate what I had done with the boy and why I did it, she eventually followed my lead and set the established procedures aside like I had advised. At the end of his senior year, that boy graduated from NEHS and received an academic award for being the most improved student during his four years in high school. More than that, that boy is now happily employed in a child daycare facility as a caregiver.

Back to the point: It is wrong to ever put students like my daughters in the same class in the same high school classroom as students like the three examples I have just described from my experience as a high school reading tutor. It is unconscionably wrong at both ends of the spectrum - absolutely so - unquestionably so! To think otherwise is to be ignorant of all applicable facts, and to have never known either a truly brilliant child or a child in desperate need of a reading tutor. Furthermore, children at both ends of the intellectual spectrum are children at risk, and I sincerely mean that in every literal sense. The easiest and best way to raise the low end into the general population is to get the high end out - not by ignoring them and/or dumbing them down, but by advancing them to educational opportunities that will fully challenge their potential.

* * *

In contemplating everything I forgot to include above, one thing stands out as still worthy of comment here and now, and that is this: an explanation of why there are no interscholastic sports teams at NEHS in my proposal. Three answers: 1) the daily class schedule would not allow for team practices, 2) the S.T.R.I.V.E. Academy has an academic purpose that cannot be compromised, and 3) the "no interscholastic sports teams" rule will inspire some students to focus on academics who would not otherwise do so under different circumstances.

I believe a "special education" designation should not be a death sentence or anything that is necessarily permanent in any way. Yes, all S.T.R.I.V.E. Academy students are assigned to the school, but that assignment is individual in nature, and remains in effect only until a student successfully tests out of the school. An opportunity to test out of the school should be granted at every term break at the very least, and every student who successfully tests out should be immediately placed in the regional high school for their home address.

However, just as strongly as I believe in the reward of a successful "test out," I also believe in belonging, in friendships, and in self-determination. Though students are assigned to the S.T.R.I.V.E. Academy by District 4J, and only students who are assigned there can enroll there, I believe all students who ever leave there should do so by their own choice. Some students who successfully test out of S.T.R.I.V.E. Academy will choose to remain there anyway, and I say "God bless them" in that choice — let them stay.

What then should be done? What then must be done?

My answer:
1) Edison High School, and 2) S.T.R.I.V.E. Academy @ NEHS and 21st Century Tech @ NEHS

Steven A. Sylwester