The reason there are many casinos housed in big and shiny buildings in Las Vegas and
elsewhere is that most games of chance favor the house. As the famed MIT Blackjack team
and others have shown, it is possible, with careful counting and sophisticated strategies,
to win at gambling. As nearly as we can determine, the California strategy for education
can be summarized as try to increase the number of students getting Cs and graduating
from high school while making it as difficult as possible for long shots to pay off.
Implementing that strategy stacks the deck against Acalanes students, and De Anza High
students need not bother. While we would agree the intent of No Child Left Behind was
reasonable, it has failed to move many (or maybe any) children ahead. In contrast, the
Chinese strategy is to identify potential talent in whatever areas the country deems
necessary or useful, nuture as many as possible, and hope to produce a few high-leverage
individuals. Just one Newton, one Mozart or one Shakespeare is enough. Exploring
Newton's ideas has kept thousands of some of the better minds of our species busy for
centuries, and even Mozart needed an orchestra. Who can say if Cauchy would have  
succeeded had his father not been a senior government official in Paris? Courtesy
Internet technology, in the twenty-first century it can no longer matter where one lives. 
During the Depression, someone in England had the courage to let R.J. Mitchell design
Spitfires. Without a few pilots brave enough to fly them, Churchill would have been,
as the noted author and games theorist Norm Maclean put it, just talking to the wall.