In a recent article in Newsweek that I’m too lazy to look up, the author bemoaned the financial inadequacy of the American people, Why? he wrote, aren’t subjects like financial literacy taught in the schools?
It’s not on the test.
Ten years ago No Child Left Behind plowed through the education system like a super highway through a rain forest, leaving arts, science, physical activity, music, wood shop, tossed in its muddy wake. Yes, students are not learning financial literary in school, they aren’t even learning how to write well in school. In fact, writing is getting coarser and worse, downgraded to simpler terms, shorter words. Texting is part of the challenge, but that activity merely reflects the evolution of spelling, it’s not, in itself, a harbinger of the apocalypse ending all grammar as we know it.
What is the tragedy is how these poor students who arrive at universities and community colleges all over the country are still unable to take what they think and translated those ideas into written discourse, I say, it’s not entirely their fault. What is missed in the heated debates all over the university and community colleges is: writing is not on the test.
Basic, unintelligible math, and basic vocabulary. Bubbles. Multiple choice. School test scores tied to money or the risk of federal interference.
The test. And of course claims that teachers will not teach to the test, that the test is just an extra way to make sure that (ahem) no child is left behind, was quickly disabused. In hard economic times who would dare give up their good job paving the superhighway? Few risked security over creativity. Only one teacher I know – my son’s awesome 8th grade teacher who arranged field trips to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Magic Flute. The one who made sure the students learned to write. The interesting one. That teacher quit rather than narrow his focus to just improving test scores. My son went on to earn his PhD in physics anyway. But that’s because I took him to concerts, art galleries, foreign countries. That was my choice and my advantage.
But advantage should be for all our students, otherwise we are creating a citizenship of morons who know little more than to fill out bubbles on a score card that is suspiciously similar to our voting ballots.
So a politician only has to say, vote for me.
And you’ll pass.