Do they still line up kids at school and give them shots?

I have forgotten the state capitals, but one intact memory of elementary school in Bethesda, Maryland is lining up to get shots (vaccines?) from some sort of “gun”. These were administered roughly every 15 seconds either by the school nurse or a county health worker. It went so fast that I wonder if we were all effectively sharing one needle (HIV and hepatitis were not concerns for schoolchildren circa 1970).

The other day I was waiting for a friend at CVS so decided to use the time to get my “free” (i.e., included in my $ 10,000/year Obamacare policy) flu shot. Ten minutes later my friend showed up. It took roughly another ten minutes before the shot was “ready.” It turned out that three health care professionals had to process various forms on a computer screen, get a one-page questionnaire from me, and finally deliver the shot with a simple needle (less than one minute). A licensed pharmacist was required as part of the paperwork pipeline.

Here’s what I got in hardcopy:

  1. Two-page document regarding the vaccine (Flucelvax Quad). It says “This is an OFF-WHITE SYRINGE.”
  2. CVS Health Notice of Privacy Practices, a two-page document in 6 pt type. It is a paper copy that, among other things, says “You have the right to obtain a paper copy of our current Notice at any time.” It also says what will happen if I am or become “an inmate of a correctional institution.”
  3. A five-page “Vaccine Information Statement” that discusses the side effects (overlaps to some extent with Document #1)
  4. A Vaccine Consent and Administration Record
  5. A three-foot-long receipt for $ 0.00 (coupons following)
  6. A $ 5 off any $ 25 purchase special coupon specific to having gotten a “free” flu shot (i.e., for giving CVS the opportunity to bill the health insurer)

Is there now this much paperwork and process attached to what was, in my youth, a 15-second paperwork-free experience?

[I posted a shorter version of the above on Facebook and it generated the predictable encomiums about the wisdom of Obamacare requiring insurance companies to pay for flu shots:

I think the insurance companies cover shots as a preventative measure, hoping we won’t incur more healthcare expenses related to the flu we’d contract if we didn’t take the shot.

It should be free and universal. That will save the most money, and the evidence for that is stone-cold solid.

In other words, the central planners working for the government are smarter than the actuaries who work at insurers, which didn’t previously pay for flu shots. I decided to poke at this assumption a bit with “If it made actuarial sense to do this, why wouldn’t the UK bureaucrats be smart enough to figure it out? They don’t offer free flu shots to everyone. (source) Are the U.S. central planners smarter than the UK ones who’ve been doing it for decades?” That proved to be an impossible conundrum!]

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Those Scheming Kids!

Oh, no. Not another SlopeCharts improvement! YES! My improvements will not be stymied! So what’s the latest feature to my beloved chart platform? Color Schemes! To change the color scheme, just go to Preferences and select from the dropdown (the one you are already using is called, of course, Classic). Here, for instance, is Dark. […]
Slope of Hope

American adults are the new high school kids?

American newspaper front pages are substantially devoted to stories about sexual interactions among various people whom we might have heard of (or at least one of any given pair). If we assume that what’s in the news is what Americans are interested in then we must conclude that American adults are tremendously interested not only in who is interacting sexually with whom, but also in the precise details of those interactions.

Previously, stories about celebrity sex would be relegated to interior sections of the newspaper. Adult residents of the U.S. talking about other adult residents would give only brief summaries of the sex acts, e.g., “X slept with Y.”

Was there ever a group of Americans who had the time and interest to follow others’ sexual interactions in detail? A group whose life was so intellectually unchallenging and devoid of serious responsibility that they had time to contemplate these tales, evaluate them for truth, and discuss the details of who did what to whom and which exact body parts were involved?

High school students!

Ergo, American adults are the new high school kids.

Readers: Agree or disagree?


Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Are rich kids better off overall?

Linda Nielsen, one of the professors who presented research at the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017, talked about critical analysis of shared parenting studies. Outcomes for children of separated or divorced parents in shared parenting (the Nordic researchers define this as 50/50 time, but most American researchers call any split of 35/65 to 50/50 “shared”) are better than for children who spend more than 65 percent of their time with just one parent. But perhaps this is because, at least in the U.S. where shared parenting has typically required agreement by the parents, the parents who do agree tend to have a higher income.

Nielsen looked at 27 studies where the income of the parents was available and determined that higher income for children in shared parenting does not explain the superior outcomes. Why is this believable? Nielsen said that if you look at the same metrics for children in intact families, excluding those in poverty, there are “not strong links between family income and children’s emotional, behavioral, and psychological well-being. In fact, richer kids may do worse.” Nielsen noted that the parent-child relationship, in particular, may be worse with children in wealthier families.

When we were kids in the 1970s (black and white TV, no Facebook, glaciers still covering most of North America, etc.), it was folk-wisdom that rich kids tended to be neglected by their parents, who were busy with cocktail parties at the country club, kid-free ski trips to Colorado, etc. They had their own rooms, sometimes with their own TVs (color!), and typically a car on their 16th birthdays (this was so long ago that teenagers actually got off their butts and learned to drive!). We envied them for their material prosperity, but would have conjectured that they were, on average, worse off.

With rage over inequality being, well, the current rage, the assumption seems to be that rich kids are actually better off. Thurston Howell V is getting his Mandarin lessons, the elite private school, and entry into a fancy college (see Elizabeth Holmes, of Theranos fame, as a real-world example).

Readers: Whom should we believe? The New York Times and the Zeitgeist? Or the research psychology professor and her data?

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Don’t let your kids grow up to be engineers, Part 1

A Facebook during our family sojourn in Ft. Lauderdale:

I have officially had it with Hertz. The minivan that I reserved was “not available” and this yellow car that they gave us as a substitute is definitely not “stroller-friendly” like the agent said.


At least a few engineers later asked me about Hertz, driving the “yellow car” (a Lamborghini, I think), etc.

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Tell your kids to work for the government!

One of my Facebook friends linked to “EPA staffer leaves with a bang, blasting agency policies under Trump” (Washington Post):

When Mike Cox quit, he did so with gusto. After 25 years, he retired last week from the Environmental Protection Agency with a tough message for the boss, Administrator Scott Pruitt.

What was this guy’s job?

Cox was a climate change adviser for EPA’s Region 10, covering Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

In other words, if watching grass grow is too much excitement for you, the federal government will pay you to watch a process that proceeds on a geological time scale!

How tough is this job?

he’s been very involved in Bainbridge, Wash., coaching youth sports and serving on local boards and commissions. For two decades, the fit 60-year-old rode his bike eight miles to the ferry, then uphill to his Seattle office.

The Bainbridge ferry takes 35 minutes to cross. If there is 10 minutes of waiting/boarding/unloading time that’s 45 minutes per trip or 90 minutes per day on the ferry. Plus he had to bike 16 miles round-trip on the Bainbridge side and also do some biking in Seattle. Assume 3 hours per day of commuting? If he started from his house at 0700 and had to be back to coach “youth sports” at 3 pm, that’s a solid 5-hour work day.

Item 1 in Mr. Cox’s  speaking truth to power is a complaint that the Trumpenfuhrer is “denying fundamental climate science.” What kind of educational background is necessary to start a debate regarding atmospheric physics on a planetary scale? Mr. Cox “holds a BS from Huxley College at Western Washington University” (source).

After 25 years of work, he’s retiring with a full pension at age 60. Having done at most 5 hours of desk-work per day (sitting is the new smoking!) and biked 100 miles per week, let’s assume Mr. Cox lives to be 100. So the taxpayers will be paying him for 40 years.

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Life for kids in the 1830s

First of a series of posts drawn from American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant by Ronald White.

First, the name. President Grant was born “Hiram Ulysses” in 1822 and changed his name to “Ulysses Simpson” upon entering West Point:

Ulysses went the next day to register. Having decided to reverse his first two names, he reported to the adjutant, presented his deposit of $ 48, and signed the register “Ulysses Hiram Grant.” By transposing his two names, he believed he could start afresh at West Point—no more HUG. To his surprise, his name was challenged. After checking the official list, the adjutant told the young man standing before him the records showed clearly that a Ulysses Simpson Grant from Ohio was to be enrolled in the entering class. Ulysses protested, unaware that Congressman Hamer had bungled his name. The adjutant informed Ulysses that any changes to his name would have to be approved by the secretary of war.

Grant grew up as one of six children. The idea of a government school hadn’t caught on yet:

Ulysses’s formal schooling began when he turned five. Education in small communities in the old Northwest merged public and private spheres: public in that it was open to all boys and girls in the community; private in that parents decided which of their children would attend, then provided a “subscription” to pay the teacher. Parents who had the money gave between $ 1 and $ 2 for a typical thirteen-week session; others paid in corn, wheat, or tobacco. Class sessions were usually conducted only in winter, when it was too cold for boys to be working outside on family farms.

The young Grant was an accurate shot, but wouldn’t kill animals. He loved horses and his parents let him do substantial solo drives.

Around this time, Jesse developed a delivery service. Capitalizing on his young son’s prowess with horses, the father became comfortable with “my Ulysses” transporting travelers in a small carriage to various destinations: the nearby river towns Ripley and Higginsport, where passengers could get an Ohio River steamer; inland to West Union; across the river twenty miles to Maysville in Kentucky; and fifty miles east to Cincinnati. Eleven-year-old Ulysses created quite a sensation when he arrived in Cincinnati and attempted to check into the Dennison House for an overnight stay. According to the story, the hotel manager was not sure what to make of the boy standing in front of him; finally, with reluctance, he let Ulysses sign the register and handed him a room key.

Some debates are never settled:

At [Grant’s] second meeting [of a school debate club], he took the winning affirmative side on “Resolved: That females wield greater influence than males.

(See Gender equity should be measured by consumption, not income? for example)

Grant’s father was a tanner:

… 1838, as Ulysses approached his seventeenth birthday, his father announced, “I reckon you are now old enough to go to work in the beam-house” in addition to his schooling. The most repulsive part of the tanning process took part in the beamhouse. Beamhouse derives from an ancient practice of hanging the hide over a curved log or table known as a “beam” for the arduous process of de-hairing. In the beamhouse, workers removed flesh and hair from raw hides, wielding long knives for this tough and unpleasant task. Ulysses responded, “Well, father, this tanning is not the kind of work I like. I’ll work at it here, though, if you wish me to, until I am one-and-twenty, but you may depend upon it, I’ll never work a day longer at it after that.” With these words, Ulysses voiced his generation’s fealty to a father’s wishes for a son but at the same time declared his determination to chart his own life path. Jesse replied, “My son, I don’t want you to work at it now, if you don’t like it, and don’t mean to stick to it. I want you to work at whatever you like and intend to follow. Now, what do you think you would like?” Ulysses responded, “I’d like to be a farmer, or a down-the-river trader, or get an education.

Mostly because it was free, the answer turned out to be West Point and then the Army:

West Point understood itself to be primarily an engineering school. During Grant’s four years at West Point, nearly 70 percent of his classes would be concentrated in engineering, mathematics, and science. In the curriculum before the Civil War, cadets studied military strategy for merely eight class periods in their final year. The liberal arts, especially the study of English and American literature, went missing in action. The heavy technical emphasis at West Point would be challenged from time to time, but Thayer and the superintendents who followed argued that mathematics and engineering promoted reasoning power.

He would complete his four years ranking twenty-first in a graduating class of thirty-nine students.

More: read  American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

History of tax incentives for having kids

A couple of months ago I asked When and why did it become necessary to pay Americans to have children?

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg (professor at Louisiana State University) provides the answer: about 100 years ago. From the book:

[Teddy] Roosevelt was an unabashed eugenicist. He used the bully pulpit of his office to insist that women had a critical civic duty to breed a generation of healthy and disciplined children. He first endorsed eugenics in 1903, and two years later he laid out his beliefs in speech before the Congress of Mothers. Worried about “race suicide,” as he put it, he recommended that women of Anglo-American stock have four to six children, “enough so the race shall increase and not decrease.”

Because children produced by unfit parents could cost taxpayers if they became criminals, society had the right to protect itself. Far more dangerous was the cost to the nation’s human stock if degenerates were allowed to breed. In 1913, Roosevelt wrote supportively to the leading eugenicist Charles Davenport that it was the patriotic duty of every good citizen of superior stock to leave his or her “blood behind.” Degenerates, he warned, must not be permitted to “reproduce their kind.”50 It was during the eugenic craze that reformers called for government incentives to ensure better breeding. This was when the idea of tax exemptions for children emerged. Theodore Roosevelt criticized the new income tax law for allowing exemptions for only two children, discouraging parents from having a third or fourth. He wanted monetary rewards for breeding, akin to the baby bonuses established in Australia in 1912. He also promoted mothers’ pensions for widows—an idea that caught on. As one defender of pensions claimed in 1918, the widowed mother was “as much a servant of the State as a judge or general.” Her child-rearing duties were no less a public service than if she had toiled on the battlefield. Like Selective Service, which weeded out inferior soldiers, the pensions were allotted exclusively to “a fit mother.”

The author describes a group of Americans who mostly marry within their group and who have low academic and economic achievement that persists for centuries.

By the 1850s, poor whites had become a permanent class. As nonslaveholders, they described themselves as “farmers without farms.”

World War I fueled the eugenics campaign. …  The war advanced the importance of intelligence testing. Goddard had created the “moron” classification by using the Binet-Simon test, which was succeeded by the IQ (intelligence quotient) scale promoted by Stanford professor Lewis Terman and then used by the U.S. Army. The army’s findings only served to confirm a long-held, unpropitious view of the South, since both poor white and black recruits from southern states had the lowest IQ scores. Overall, the study found that the mean intelligence of the soldier registered at the moron level—the equivalent of a “normal” thirteen-year-old boy. Given the results, observers wondered if poor white men were dragging down the rest of the nation.

Throughout the book Professor Isenberg argues using proof by repeated assertion that there is no genetic component to this group’s failure to get educated, to get good jobs, to support liberal Democrats, etc.

Location is everything. Location determines access to a privileged school, a safe neighborhood, infrastructural improvements, the best hospitals, the best grocery stores. Upper- and middle-class parents instruct their children in surviving their particular class environment. They give them the appropriate material resources toward this end. But let us devote more thought to what Henry Wallace wrote in 1936: what would happen, he posed, if one hundred thousand poor children and one hundred thousand rich children were all given the same food, clothing, education, care, and protection? Class lines would likely disappear.

Statistical measurement has shown convincingly that the best predictor of success is the class status of one’s forebears. Ironically, given the American Revolutionaries’ hatred for Old World aristocracies, Americans transfer wealth today in the fashion of those older societies, while modern European nations provide considerably more social services to their populations. … Class wealth and privileges are a more important inheritance (as a measure of potential) than actual genetic traits.

This is some of the same rationale that leads legislators and judges to set up the family courts such that money is transferred, after a brief marriage, from a high-income litigant to a low-income one (see the Rationale chapter of Real World Divorce). Isenberg doesn’t reference The Son Also Rises, in which the economist author presents data suggesting that inheriting money from parents is a small factor in individual success. Successful parents tended to have successful children, but that was true whether they had 1 child who inherited everything or 10 children who shared the inheritance pie.

Yet she explains Dolly Parton’s achievements in terms of genetics:

Maureen Dowd quipped that Palin was a “country-music queen without the music.” She lacked the self-deprecating humor of Dolly Parton—not to mention the natural talent.

So there are no genes that relate to academic and career achievement, but Dolly Parton has “natural” (genetic?) talent and that is why people want to hear her sing and play the guitar?

The book also contains an economics lesson. It is not a poor education, lack of willingness to work hard, or mediocre skills that keep Americans from earning as much as folks in Singapore (CIA Factbook; we’re now behind Ireland too). Poverty could be practically eliminated, at no cost to taxpayers, by changing a single number:

a depressed minimum wage keeps millions in poverty

Roughly half of Americans are oppressed due to gender:

We know, too, that women historically have had fewer civil protections than corporations

(Did she test this theory by starting a corporation, sending it a bar to meet a married dermatologist, and then seeing if the corporation could collect a few $ million in tax-free child support?)

Many of the remainder are oppressed by their own stupidity:

we have a large unbalanced electorate that is regularly convinced to vote against its collective self-interest. These people are told that East Coast college professors brainwash the young and that Hollywood liberals make fun of them and have nothing in common with them and hate America and wish to impose an abhorrent, godless lifestyle. The deceivers offer essentially the same fear-laden message that the majority of southern whites heard when secession was being weighed.

(but it is not genetics that accounts for their credulity in failing to vote for Democrats)

The One-Percenters are ruining it for everyone else:

In 2009, the 1 percent paid 5.2 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while the poorest 20 percent paid 10.9 percent. States penalized the poor with impunity.

(How can this calculation be performed? The poorest 20 percent of Americans would quality for subsidized public housing, food stamps, Medicaid or Obamacare, an Obamaphone, etc. (total average cost to taxpayers over $ 60,000) What is the “income” of a person who gets almost everything for free from the government?)

Conservative Americans are bad people:

Poor women lost state-funded abortions during the Carter years, and today they are proscribed from using welfare funds to buy disposable diapers. To modern conservatives, women are first and foremost breeders.

(Let’s assume that she is right about “conservatives” obstructing the purchase of diapers. If they are opposed to more babies, doesn’t this make them stupid? The source of this allegation against “conservatives” seems to be that food stamps or SNAP cannot be used to buy diapers or any other non-food item. But welfare moms who get TANF or similar cash benefits can in fact buy diapers with them (example from California).)

The evidence that Republicans are stupid and simplistic is remarkably strong:

Through a process of rationalization, people have long tended to blame failure on the personal flaws of individuals—this has been the convenient refrain of Republicans in Congress in the second decade of the twenty-first century, when former Speaker of the House John Boehner publicly equated joblessness with personal laziness.


Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Elite Americans desperate to shield their kids from going to an American school

“In Break With Precedent, Obama Envoys Are Denied Extensions Past Inauguration Day” (nytimes) is kind of funny. The reason that ambassadors want to keep their jobs during the reign of the Trumpenfuhrer is that they don’t want their kids subjected to the world’s most lavishly funded schools:

In the past, administrations of both parties have often granted extensions on a case-by-case basis to allow a handful of ambassadors, particularly those with school-age children, to remain in place for weeks or months.

The directive has nonetheless upended the personal lives of many ambassadors, who are scrambling to secure living arrangements and acquire visas allowing them to remain in their countries so their children can remain in school, the diplomats said.

One family might be okay with returning, as long as the kids can attend a private school:

In the Czech Republic, they said, Ambassador Andrew H. Schapiro is seeking housing in Prague as well as lobbying his children’s Chicago-based school to break with policy and accept them back midyear.

(I’m going to assume that a public school in the Chicago area has to accept kids no matter when they show up.)

All of this raises another question… we now have nationwide “Common Core” standards for public schools, right? Yet from talking with K-12 students it seems that different school districts, even ones within the same state, teach things in different orders. Why isn’t there a nationwide standard syllabus so that a student who moves from one Common Core school to a different one is not out of sync by more than a week or two (the two schools might have different calendars)? If there is some advantage to a specific order of material, why can’t the school that has developed that export it to everyone else?


Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

How old can the kids of a “single mother” be?

“‘It’s a catastrophe’: low-income workers get priced out of California beach city” (Guardian) interests me for the linguistic angle:

At first, Jamie Kahn tried ignoring the repeated knocks on her front door. It was September 2015, and the 52-year-old Santa Cruz woman had recently faced an unexpected 40% rent increase that she could not afford.

After missing a rent payment, her new landlords in the northern California beach city quickly moved to evict the single mother and her two children. Kahn thought that if she refused to open the door and accept a summons, she could bide some time to fight the increase from $ 1,400 to $ 2,000 a month. She was wrong.

Court records show that a process server repeatedly showed up, and the Kahns ultimately had no choice but to vacate their home of six years.

A sad tale, certainly. Helpless and blameless children are now on the street. But exactly how old are the helpless children?

Her 22-year-old daughter subsequently moved into a small back porch room in a neighboring city. Her 19-year-old son crashed on couches.

Linguistically this could have been described as potentially a three-income household containing three working-age adults. But apparently in 2016 it is still mom and two kids who can’t work. (If the mother didn’t herself work, but instead perhaps had been living on child support profits (that 19-year-old would have just recently aged out of the California system; the mom would have been in better shape if she had sex in Massachusetts where the cashflow continues until the subject of the litigation turns 23), the fact that the children also didn’t or couldn’t work would have been predicted by The Son Also Rises.)

Readers: What do you think? Can a person still be described as a “single mother” once the offspring have become adults?

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

ABCs for kids in Cambridge, Massachusetts

I was at Harvard Bookstore the other day and happened upon A is for Activist, a board book for toddlers (video of the author reading). This is a second edition from 2013 and the author seems to have been ahead of his (“her” by now? T is for “trans” according to the book) time. F is for Feminist, but oddly C is not therefore for Child Support nor is L for Litigation. C is in fact for “Co-op” (also “Cats”) and L is for “LGBTQ”.

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

Don’t let your kids grow up to fly Boeing

AOPA has a comparison of the Boeing 737NG versus the Airbus A320 from a pilot’s perspective. Here are some excerpts:

As far as pilot comfort goes, the Airbus is a leap ahead of the Boeing. The 737’s forward fuselage is the same as that of the 707, which was designed in the mid-1950s. It begins tapering to the nose in the first-class cabin, and by the time you get to the cockpit it’s a pretty small tube. The Airbus keeps its beamy width all the way to the cockpit, providing a commodious workplace for the pilots.

Airbus took its time designing the cockpit, resulting in a clean, logical layout that is well marked and void of any lights during normal operations. Everything is covered in plastic, so pilots don’t see the construction details underneath. There are ample air vents to keep you cool in the summer and (optional) foot warmers to keep your toes warm in the winter. There’s plenty of room for all your baggage, two jumpseaters, and all the duty-free purchases you can bring on. There’s no massive yoke, either, so you can cross your legs if you want. There’s also a clever table that extends from the panel on which to lay your charts/iPad or crew meal. No eating off your lap like in the 737. Finally, the Airbus cockpit is noticeably quieter than the 737.

Speaking of landings, the Airbus is much easier to land smoothly and, for pilots, it goes a long way to stroke our already-inflated egos. If you can consistently grease a 737NG landing, you’re a better pilot than most. The problem with that airplane, especially the long-bodied models, is that it lands so fast. Because tail strikes are a big threat for the long, low-slung airplanes, approach speeds are in the 150- to 160-knot range, which is about 40 knots or more above stall speed. All that extra speed keeps the long-bodied 737s flat to avoid tail strikes, but it also causes them to skip right back in the air at initial touchdown—just a few inches. It’s just long enough for the ground-spoiler system to sense wheel spin, at which point the spoilers deploy—right now! And it’s that second plop to the ground that makes the NGs one of the more difficult airplanes to consistently land well.

This also brings up a safety issue. There have been more than a few runway overruns in long-bodied 737s. They are heavy, they land fast, and they have only four main-wheel brakes—unlike a 757, which has eight brakes. Pilots who like to use all of the runway’s touchdown zone trying to squeak out a good landing are playing with fire in this airplane, especially on wet or contaminated runways. Remember, style points don’t count if you run off the end of the runway.

Separately, I’m wondering if the passengers on Flydubai 981 would all still be alive had that airplane operated Airbus A320s with envelope protection. The cause of the crash is thought to be improper stick-and-rudder handling? An Airbus would therefore have protected itself and the passengers by preventing a stall. On the third hand, AirAsia 8501 was supposedly stalled by the pilots. Wikipedia says that with the autopilot disconnected they also lost any envelope protection.

Young pilots: Think JetBlue!

[Also in the same issue, we learn that there is only one thing worse than starving as a freelance aviation photographer: “I was a Java coder and I couldn’t take it anymore.”]

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

How to keep the kids off the iPad

At the Miami Open there was a booth from the IMG Academy, formerly Nick Bollettieri’s, near Sarasota. For $ 60,000 per year they will take a child as young as age 8 and give him or her five hours of private school per day then four hours of sports instruction (they are most famous for tennis but now they have some other sports). Children can live on campus starting at age 12. If it sounds expensive, keep in mind that most graduates end up getting athletic scholarships to college.

Even for an 8-year-old there is a minimum of coordination and athletic ability required for entry. The school wants kids to come to one of their camps first and/or for a video to be sent with an application.

What do readers think? Let’s assume that a typical child cannot become a successful pro athlete. However, presumably a typical graduate of this academy would be one of the world’s top 1000(?) tennis players and that would be a valuable lifelong skill and source of pride and fun. Is it better for a kid to (1) go to a high-grade suburban public school or expensive academically oriented private school and then fight all of the world’s crammers for an Ivy League admission or (2) to become a great athlete via coaching at IMG and meet a whole world of successful people through tennis? At a minimum, one would think that the school+tennis program would keep a child from getting sucked into the virtual world of screens.

Personally I wish that I had studied tennis in elementary school rather than learning all of the state capitals by heart. Google knows almost everything that I learned in public school, but can’t help with my pathetic one-handed backhand (“I’m not an ambi-hitter”).

[Note that the private school at IMG is probably at least above-average by feeble American standards. The place is packed with international students, an advantage in a globalized economy, and claims to have “nearly a dozen AP courses” available. Graduates have gone on to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. (none have been dumb enough to choose M.I.T.!). Perhaps this public school in Dallas that requires a minimum of 11 AP courses to graduate would be better academically, but most people don’t live in Dallas.]


Philip Greenspun’s Weblog