LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - One-room schools

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In late 1800s and early 1900s one-room schoolhouses or those with multiple classes in each room housed education of creators and entrepreneurs that produced the industrial revolution and launched America's explosive growth.

Not more space, but what occurs within space determines education quality. Wa-Hi's present modernization scheme echoes administrators standard solution, build/remodel/install a bond.

This is the 21st century, the digital age with instant global access to civilizations' total knowledge blanketing Earth.

Inexpensive computers gain access.

A single device and software can furnish all written materials. Software including animation can create virtual labs allowing dissection of species, performing experiments that mute goof-ups into exploding pictures.

December 2010, Secretary of Education Duncan reported latest scores of the world's 15-year-olds on an international test of reading, math and science show the United States is merely an average performer. Our per student cost is second highest behind Luxembourg.

This present Wa-Hi modernization effort repeats the proposal a few years ago so I repeat my solution. How to accommodate another 150 students and roomier space for all.

My solution: Erect a new three-story reinforced steel concrete structure inside the Academic Building's courtyard abutting the building on three sides including the south end. Remove a portion of existing north structure to extend the addition 60-feet north of existing walls. Modify the roof; sidewalks become aisles.

The building will be three stories tall. The second and third floors will each cantilever 6 feet beyond the floor below.

All interior walls will be soundproof and movable. Maximize flexibility for utilities, equipment and seating. Furnish central HVAC to the combined buildings.

The slightly arched roof -- keep concrete in compression -- will house a small observatory, a small weather station, equipment for internet access and management, a large telescope for deep space probes, environment data gathering instruments, security and similar facilities.

The building will use only 21st century state-of-the-art digital world programs and equipment to teach, learn, read, perform lab experiments, etc. Neither library nor laboratory space is required. Gates has already sponsored such a school for 70 black students with spectacular results.

Bill Gates supports education with huge grants as do other successful entrepreneurs. Use profs from the three higher learning institutions -- genius in writing grant applications to hit on Microsoft, H-P, Dell, Intel etc. Leave taxpayers out of it.

The future arrived with the digital age and it is time to Walla Walla joins it.

William L. Kelly
Walla Walla

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