I am fortunate that my youngest children are in one of the magnet elementary schools in our area. As far as I am concerned, getting them in at the kindergarten level is like winning the lottery. I could not afford to pay for this level of education, and I am not sure that there is anywhere I could buy it. Having experienced the differences between the standard programs and the magnet ones, I am shocked and sickened that a greater emphasis on early music, art, drama and humanities education is not normal procedure across the board. Confidence from participation, development of skills, and the appreciation of the arts benefit on so many levels. When I look around and wonder why people in general are so apathetic towards the suffering of others, incapable of seeing past their own problems, or just plain ignorant, I can't help but wonder; can it be because an emphasis on early education that rewards kids with immediate accomplishments and rewarding skills development remains such a low priority? Learning how to pass the standardized assessment tests is great, but teach a kid how to DO something, something that is demonstrable to friends, family, the public at large, something they can be proud of that is a part of themselves, stand back and watch them GO! That experience is independently generated, original, a reward that never stops giving, and something that lasts for a lifetimes worth of accomplishments and memories. Our public education programs are bottoming out, and have been for a long time. When the budget cuts come, we all know where the axes fall first. Class sizes get bigger, staff is cut back and the arts are cut off. Think about your own experiences. Can you honestly say that a more progressive, better funded, humanities centered education would not be preferable? The funds are out there, more than enough to revamp and re-focus our priorities in this area as a nation, and I won't even argue with anyone who says that there isn't. Even in the current recession, we are still a rich and profitable nation. The problem, as I see it, is two-fold. First, there is no immediate profit return for this kind of investment, and not much incentive other than PR value. Capitalism is great as an economic model, but it fails the citizenry as a social formula, time and time again. How can mega corporations make profit on education, or health care, and still provide services to those who are in the greatest need? Second (and by my paranoid assessment, likely the most important factor) perhaps those in control are afraid that a generation of thinkers might just put them out of business. Hell, I'm half a moron, and I think our situation is all fucked up. What would happen if smart, well rounded, thinking people were in the majority? THAT would be real change, not the "Change" that some people are selling you.