- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 10, 2000

Noble: George Abraham Thampy, for showing that education is not synonymous with public school. At the tender age of 12, George Abraham Thampy is a problem for public school unions: He is home-schooled and he won this year's National Spelling Bee. This achievement requires a special level of dedication to education which makes him The Washington Times noble of the week.

Young Mr. Thampy, of course, is simply happy to study, but the very existence of students like him poses a problem for those who are irrationally committed to public (read: government) education. It puts the lie to many assumptions some public school advocates make. One such assumption is that educators must be certified by the government to be good teachers. Most home-school parents do not go back to school and get a teaching certificate to teach their own children. And many who do later report the degree gave them more confidence to jump into home-schooling, but it didn't give them a greater ability to teach their children.

With more than 1.5 million children taught at home in America, home-schooling is being accepted more and more. Colleges are finding ways to test such students and admittance to even the best universities is not a problem for home-schooled children. Thanks to children like Mr. Thampy many parents are demanding more from their local schools or pulling their children out altogether. This focus on excellence rather than the institution of government education can only be good for America.

• Knave, Vice President Al Gore, for leaky toilets and leaky arguments. Sometimes an anecdote about a person illustrates that person's larger character. For Bill Clinton it was his Monica episode. For Al Gore it is his connection to bad toilets.

The man who gave America low-flow toilets has given some of his tenants in Tennessee leaky commodes. A property Mr. Gore owns, which is managed by his reality company, is rife with sewer problems. One toilet overflows regularly, and another leaks sewer water from its base. One sink in the house has a foul smelling mud that oozes up out of the drain. These problems have dragged on for more than a year. When the tenants complained they were given an eviction notice.

The tenants fought back by going to the media. Mr. Gore, fearing a public backlash after a local TV station aired the story, promised to fix the sewer problems and pay for the tenants to live in suitable quarters while the repairs on completed. The work is now under way, but so far the vice president hasn't paid for his tenants to relocate.

It's not the only promise he didn't keep. This week the Democratic National Committee announced a huge soft money-funded media blitz to help the vice president's ailing presidential candidacy something Mr. Gore promised not to let happen unless the Republicans did it first.

Rep. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, may have said it best. Mr. Gore's backsliding on his campaign promise against soft-money "is just like Clinton."

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