Now that we have heard from the paranoid, hate-filled, homophobic, religious right on the issue of school abandonment, let's explore the real reason Del Norte kids are not all going to school. Yes we know that the religious zealots are not sending their kids to school and won't until public schools include their particular religious fables. Sorry, but schools shouldn't teach creation as a scientific fact any more than they should teach the 72 virgins awaiting bomber martyrs, nor that heaven is only for good Catholics. Oops almost forgot that we're supposed to call it andquot;Intelligent Designandquot; this week.

Schools don't teach homosexuality anymore than they teach satanism or witchcraft, which the religious right has previously accused them of.

Yes we also know that you will continue to attack public schools in some bizarre hope that you can make schools look so artificially bad that the public will eventually approve funding for religious schools. But don't hold your breath! While you're waiting, record numbers of public school kids will go on to higher education and will become the doctors, lawyers and teachers who help make this country great. Amazingly we heard the same andquot;ruinationandquot; rhetoric when schools were integrated and when minority contributions to our society were finally included in text books by law. I sometimes wonder if these andquot;goodandquot; folks wouldn't be happier in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran, where andquot;there are no homosexualsandquot; or Hitler's Germany where they became part of the holocaust.

Students are in some ways like electricity, they will follow the path of least resistance. Today's kids are also part of the silicon valley andquot;wowandquot; generation, where entertainment is reduced to matchbox size and where anything is possible in digitally augmented movies, games and videos. Kids in our area also have many options to get out of andquot;goingandquot; to school. Both the GED and the CHSPE allow kids to complete schools by test. We even have a local charter andquot;schoolandquot; desperately advertising that their andquot;teachersandquot; will come to your home to andquot;teachandquot; independent study.

Combine that with the facts that low income students are on the average less successful than their wealthier counterparts, that real education isn't as fun or entertaining as your average video game and you have a recipe for educational disaster.

The bottom line is that today's kids need to be more motivated than ever before to stay in school. The solution is simple the parents (or parent) of the unmotivated kids must be convinced to become 100 percent supportive of serious education. An advertising campaign is the only and a completely elegant solution.

Roy Wielsma

Crescent City