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In "The Case for More School Days," Michael J. Barrett lays part of the blame for Americans' reluctance to trade in their 180-day average school year for the 220-day average of most other industrial nations to characteristics in the American psyche.

Popular culture, which Mr. Barrett feels values talent over effort, has led to what he calls Huck Finn's law: "the authentic American flourishes in spite of schooling, not because of it."

The educational establishment, Mr. Barrett claims, also fails to support a longer school year, instead emphasizing "quality over quantity'' in relation to school time.

Senator Barrett, who has himself introduced legislation to lengthen the school year, stresses the connection, internationally, between test scores and time in school. In the game of global competition, he says, "when the rest of the world plays a 20-minute period, American students cannot be expected to rack up as many points in 15."

To him, "a longer school year is a superstructure under which other changes can be made."

The catalyst for change, he believes, will be strong leadership--strong enough to convice Americans that the benefits of more time in school outweigh the sacrifice of some summer vacation.

The benefits of home schooling are enumerated in the November issue of Harper's by a high-school English teacher who keeps his own children out of school.

Using his own experience teaching his children, David Guterson describes home schooling as unplanned, impromptu sessions based on the individual wishes and curiosities of the child. This contrasts sharply with his view of regular schools, which he describes as "competetive, status-conscious, in the manner of the adult institutions they mimic."

Home schooling, he argues, is "an extreme form" of the best method for teaching children, not only for its flexibility, and the bonding between parents and children, but for the principle that "learning is not separate from life."

The first-year anniversary issue of Emerge, a magazine addressing issues in and about the black community, features three articles on current issues in the education of African-American students.

In "A Dialogue With Polly Williams," the Wisconsin state representative discusses the controversial Milwaukee school-voucher program, calling it "the only program that really affects low-income parents, empowers parents."

The emergence of black private schools after Brown v. Board of Education, and methods of countering the decline in the number of blacks in the teaching force are also featured in the special section.--SKG

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