Jewish World Review Sept. 20, 2002 / 15 Tishrei, 5763
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Stupidity is the theme of the week. Here's a national round-up.
ILLITERATE IN IOWA&NBSP;
"How can we take a bright kid that is having trouble reading and tell them, "You can't graduate?" Patch asked. "If they are doing well in other subjects, are we going to tell them they can't get a high school diploma?"
If diplomas are withheld, "we could have a lot of future architects and doctors out there that aren't going to graduate," Patch said in an interview.
Um, isn't that a good thing? Who wants an illiterate doctor?
In a radio interview, Patch said that CEOs of major corporations don't need to read well because they can dictate letters. Illiterate police officers could use a Dictaphone too, Patch said. Later, he decided that maybe cops should be able to read.
Patch believes that students who can't read well are dyslexic, and therefore can't be held to normal standards. Actually, most poor readers aren't "word blind." They just haven't been taught properly. True dyslexics also can learn -- if they're not just passed along. Patch would like to pass them on with a worthless piece of paper, a Des Moines high school diploma. Then they'll discover they don't have the skills they need to function in society. Not even as a CEO of a major corporation.
Eight percent of registered voters turned out for the Des Moines school board election Tuesday. Patch was elected.
It's a long way from the goal of 90 percent proficiency in math and English by 2007. And it's not satisfying to Ralph Pesqueira, a San Diego businessman and a member of CSU's board who spearheaded the policy after hearing complaints from faculty during campus visits.
"These professors kept saying to me, 'What can we do about these students who just can't read and write -- they come here, sit in class, and don't have the foggiest idea,' " he recalls.
CSU now limits students to one year of remediation. After that, they're "disenrolled."
TEACHER HARASSED FOR TEACHING&NBSP;
The complainers -- a mother, the minister who heads the local NAACP and a few others -- are unhappy because the school board discussed the matter in closed session. They know the board members are sitting in private laughing at the idiotic notion that teaching a word that sounds like a racial slur is the same as teaching a racial slur. But they want the board to pretend to take the complaint seriously, even at the cost of hounding a dedicated teacher out of the classroom.
WHO'S BURIED IN GRANT'S TOMB?&NBSP;
A DAY THAT WILL LIVE IN APOLOGY&NBSP;
America commemorated the tragedy of Pearl Harbor today, one year after the terrible day that changed the nation forever. In San Francisco, closest U.S.-held territory to the site of the incident that the National Education Association has said should not be blamed on any group or nation, sailors rowed by a mockup of the sunken wreck of the USS Arizona in lifeboats, dropping wreaths and handwritten poems dedicated to their fallen comrades. It was a moving, tearful scene...
In Washington, Congress observed a moment of silence. Then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt...pledged to seek out the root causes of Japan's apparent hostility toward the U.S., vowing to "make things right," adding that he would probably review our relationship with China's beleaguered military with an eye toward ending it...
...CBS radio, meanwhile, played somber music most of the day, mixing it with tearful testimonials from those who lost loved ones, pausing only for a moment of silence. This was followed by a brief newscast detailing events in Europe, which look grim for the increasingly bellicose English and their shrill, portly leader, Winston Churchill.
The Colonel, a new blogger who teaches at a Virginia college, gave JunkYard's fake story to a colleague, who showed it to freshmen in his next class. "All of them thought it was actually a clip from the 1942 paper," the Colonel reports.
LIGHTENING THE ACADEMIC LOAD&NBSP;
It was an adult act of stupidity -- really two acts -- that got us into this fix in the first place.
The most obvious, of course, was the contagion of locker-removal, apparently in the belief that it would increase school safety, save money and reduce drug use: Get rid of the lockers, and the kids wouldn't have them to hide the stuff anymore. They'd have to carry it around in their backpacks along with all those books.
The other act of stupidity is the collective professional decision that in order to get the kids to look at the textbooks at all, they had to stop being texts and become picture books -- great fat things printed on heavy glossy paper with hundreds of color photographs and other illustrations that threaten to choke out the last remaining words entirely. Each book costs $70 and up.
Japan's excellent math books are slender and inexpensive, Schrag points out.
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