Jewish World Review March 15, 2004 / 22 Adar, 5764

Joanne Jacobs

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Consumer Reports

Translating Shakespeare, the Princess and the 'B' | In Atlanta, students who are "on track to attend college" but have "poor reading skills" are reading Shakespeare without Shakespearean language. Study guides translate Shakespeare into pedestrian modern English, so students don't have to struggle. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Leon Allen, a student in (Connie) Kollias' class, didn't understand the original line. But he read the translated sentence aloud with ease.

"It's nice because all those ancient words aren't there," he said. "It is a cool story — what with people making plans to kill one another. It can be difficult because everyone has strange names, but at least it isn't using any of those old words anymore."

In one version, "Beware the ides of March" in Julius Caesar becomes "Beware of March 15."

I keep wondering about students who are incapable of reading Shakespearean language yet are considered "on track to attend college." How can they do college-level work if they can't figure out "lend me your ears" isn't about organ transplants? Maybe they'll just "attend" college but not actually pass any courses.

I remember the joy I experienced when I realized that Shakespeare's "hautboys" were oboes and that the word comes from haut bois or high wood. That was so cool.

What the Real World Demands

Students should demonstrate the skills needed for college and work to earn a high school diploma, write proponents of the American Diploma Project in Education Week.

The American Diploma Project "set out to identify the core competencies in mathematics and English language arts that high school graduates must have in order to enter and succeed in credit-bearing college courses and in decent jobs in high-wage, high-growth occupations."

Employers and college faculty want new employees and students to have high-level math and English skills.

In math, (the ADP standards) contain content typically taught in Algebra 1, Algebra 2, geometry, and data analysis and statistics. In English, they demand strong oral and written communications skills that are staples in college classrooms and high-performance workplaces. They also describe analytic and research skills that today are commonly found only in high school honors courses.

State graduation exams typically require ninth and 10th grade skills, far below what's necessary to succeed in the 21st century.

Bring back vocational schools, writes the Happy Carpenter.

I don't think there are many students who lack the aptitude for academic courses. But many lack basic skills and motivation. They don't want to spend more years in a classroom. They do want to qualify for a decent job, and they'll work a lot harder if they believe school will get them somewhere they want to go.

A Princess in a Cadillac Truck

Who needs hard work? For a California girl, a B average got her a Cadillac truck. She tells her tale to the New York Times.

The Escalade EXT is a luxury version of another GM pickup, the Chevy Avalanche. It has satellite radio, leather seats and a navigation system. I haven't used the G.P.S. yet, but I will — I get lost easily. I'm going to get custom chrome wheels and rims for it. My favorite brand is Lexani. They're so nice looking.

...When I was 13, I started to think about what kind of car I wanted when I started to drive. I saw an EXT in a music video and thought, "Hey, having a pickup truck is way cuter than having a car." I started babysitting every week to save money for one. Then I went on the Cadillac Web site and saw how much it cost, and I thought that's a lot of babysitting. Finally, my parents told me if I got a 3.0 G.P.A. or higher on my report card, they'd buy me any car I wanted, within reason.

...I looked out the window and saw a brand new EXT parked in front of the restaurant. It was the color I wanted: "Out of the Blue." I couldn't believe it. I was like, "Oh my G-d, are you serious?" I ran outside in the falling snow, climbed into the truck and sat there for a bit. Then I called my friends back in California on my cell. The whole thing was like a car commercial.

...The first time I drove up to the school, about 25 girls came running out to look at it. "That is so cool," they cried. "We hate you!" It was like a dream come true. I felt like, "Wow, I'm a princess."


Secret of the Eternal Nancy

Nancy Drew, who started sleuthing in 1930, is still searching for clues in the 21st century. The Christian Science Monitor reports:

This month, Simon & Schuster is giving the classic series a makeover. The titian-haired sleuth is now a strawberry blonde and she volunteers at an animal shelter. She's traded in her blue Mustang convertible for a hybrid car. She's Internet savvy and carries a cellphone. The new books are now narrated in first person.

Maybe Bess and George finally will get married.

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JWR contributor Joanne Jacobs, a former Knight-Ridder columnist and San Jose Mercury News editorial writer, blogs daily at She is currently finishing a book, Start-Up High, about a San Jose charter school. Comment by clicking here.

03/08/04: School sued for saving lives; teachers protest students; saive oure skules; graduate yourself; jumping for Darwin
03/01/04: No Drugs? No problem; double standard; control
02/23/04: Over-Praised New Yorkers; Under-Educated Hawaiians; Mothers and Nannies
02/17/04: Under the skin; don't call them 'gifties'; a piece of sheepskin; parent participation — or else
02/09/04: The Limits of Discovery Learning; science lite; not just a buzzword; fish, unfried
02/02/04: Flight from excellence; the look that screams; show them the money
01/26/04: It's the Parents, Stupid
01/20/04: High School Blahs, Naked Math, Boys in Trouble
12/22/03: Saving the teacher, skipping a grade, paying for AP tests, laptops don't boost scores
12/15/03: Missing Columbine; tuned out; kindergarten kamikazes; Suffer the Little Children; ungot greats; dangerous rhymes
12/08/03: Desensitizing students to f-word; Like a Rock; Unmannered; Cool Christians on Campus
11/24/03: Integrating lunch; peewee athletes; The Promise
11/17/03: School Principals Gone Wild; School vs. Bloggers; A Is For Absent
11/10/03: Feeling history; no-sided history; passing on a record; winning respect; bright flight
11/03/03: Super Pay for Super Teachers?; ‘Failing’ Teachers; Dissect the Bunny; Yuck
10/27/03: Parent, teachers, parents as teachers; cramming in education; out of control
10/21/03: Go, Samaritan; 2 + 2 = ?; Majoring in Middle-class Status
10/14/03: To Gag a Mockingbird; saying 'hate' is hate speech; protest school
10/08/03: No Homework Overload; Self-centered Social Studies; The Boy Code; Codswallop; College 101: Don't Jump Out of Your Bunk Bed
09/29/03: Flunking mom; classroom classics; ritalin gag rule; lousy children
09/22/03: Order, disorder
09/08/03: No Child Left Behind: A Primer
08/29/03: The Decline and Fall of Social Studies
08/18/03: F is for valedictorian
08/14/03: Start-up success
08/11/03: Subliterate Superintendent
08/04/03: Alternative High School
07/28/03: Out of the System
07/21/03: Too Snobby for Shop
07/14/03: Be very afraid
07/09/03: Know-nothing nonsense
06/30/03: Affirmative action reactions
06/23/03: Overdressed Students, Underdressed Teachers, Dressed-down Exams
06/16/03: Paper 'Is-ness,' Excluding Awards, New Racial Consciousness and Politics
06/09/03: Racist math, red tape for charters, potty reading
06/02/03: Teacher Pay, Illiteracy , No Republicans Allowed
05/27/03: Research papers, athletics, reading
05/19/03: Soft America, plagiarism, Minutemen and Jets
05/12/03: Demographics, nerves, valedictorian, vouchers
05/05/03: Gender Bias, Banned Words, Helen of Troy
04/28/03: Tests, home-schooling, self-esteem
04/25/03: Lessons, American Pride, Iraqi Schools
04/14/03: Iraqi Textbooks and the English language
03/31/03:Teachers, hugging, text messaging
04/07/03: War talk at school
03/24/03: Watching the war
03/10/03: Classroom chaos
03/03/03: Teaching tales
02/24/03: Segregation stories
02/18/03: Writing Essays, America, Beyond Bert and Ernie
02/13/03: Size matters
02/10/03: Parental homework, cheaters and memoirs
02/03/03: Diplomas, academics, preschools and Ritalin
01/27/03: Head Start, Social Studies, Marx, Africa and Math
01/22/03: Teachers as targets
01/13/03: Big Bully's Feelings
01/06/03: School of 60's Whining and Communal Destruction
12/23/02: Teaching in
12/16/02: Chocolate city?
12/10/02: Mandatory Victimhood --- and when cleaning up a school is 'racist'
11/25/02: Multi-colored math, sensitive science
11/20/02: How to leave no child behind
11/18/02: The tummy track
11/11/02: Dysfunctional documents?
11/04/02: Why go to college? Why test schools?
10/28/02: Pride goeth before an F
10/21/02: Diversity adversity
10/14/02: Bad hat day
10/07/02: Inflated sense of worth
09/30/02: The Royal road to knowledge
09/24/02: Sierra's Club
09/20/02: Stupidity Watch
09/03/02: First, win the war
08/26/02: Out of their field, out of their minds?
08/20/02: Fun with failure

© 2003, Joanne Jacobs