Thursday, March 09, 2006

Why Ron Gidwitz should not be governor of Illinois

Dave Ziffer of the sent the following letter to the Chicago Tribune regarding their endorsement of Ron Gidwitz for governor.

Dear Chicago Tribune Editor:

I was very disappointed to read the Tribune’s endorsement of Ron Gidwitz as Republican candidate for governor in the upcoming primary elections. Gidwitz’ plan for education is so illogical that I must wonder whether he could possibly have any other sensible policies.

On his website (at Gidwitz openly acknowledges federal statistics indicating that our public elementary schools are essentially completely incompetent in teaching young children how to read. The failure rate is so high (40% completely illiterate, plus another 30% below grade level) that it indicates total systemic failure. (A system with an even moderate level of competency would have something more like a 2% failure rate.)

Gidwitz’ solution to this problem? He wants to force us to pay for more failure by requiring kids to spend more time with teachers who obviously don’t know what they’re doing (i.e. mandatory kindergarten) and by giving the failed system more license to occupy more of our kids’ time at an even younger age (publicly financed preschool). This makes about as much sense as pumping more money into Enron in the hopes of getting better energy services.

Gidwitz’ proposal to create a “seamless” education system is downright frightening. The same language was used by associates of the Clintons in the early 1990s who were planning to use the Clinton presidency as a springboard for creating an inescapable nationalized school system similar to those in socialist countries. What we need in education is school choice, not a seamless system of failure.

Your endorsement makes sense only if we hope to be choosing between two Democrats this fall. My hope is that other newspapers will endorse Jim Oberweis, a man who offers us a true alternative to the ever-increasing socialist nonsense in Illinois government.

David Ziffer


Public education’s consistent 70% failure rate: The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has been reporting since 1992 that approximately 40% of our fourth-graders are “below basic” (i.e. functionally illiterate) and an additional 30% are “below proficient” (i.e. struggling) in reading. Please refer to Ninety percent of American children are in public schools. The low end of private school performance tends to dovetail with the upper end of public school performance.

Is a 2% reading failure rate reasonable?: A 98% success rate in teaching reading is a commonly quoted statistic among non-public-education service providers using the same sorts of metrics and sometimes the same metrics as their public school counterparts. During 1997-2002 I ran an after-school reading program servicing primarily “dysfunctional” readers. During that time we achieved a 98% success rate in promoting students’ reading capability one grade level per semester (that’s two grade levels per year), using a combination of licensed teachers and teachers’ aides. All statistics and raw data regarding this program are published at

Associates of the Clintons also gleefully anticipated implementing a “seamless” education system. Check it out at

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