Monday, March 27, 2006

High School Exit Exam

Dear Indigna,

I think this new high school exit exam is just terrible! You only get six chances to pass and they test you on addition and subtraction of really big numbers! Not only that, but they expect you be able to read and understand a newspaper! Now just when do they expect these kids to need those skills? That’s what calculators and blogs are for.

And what about the special ed kids? For example, there is this girl in my daughter’s class who has been in a coma her entire high school career. Are we going to deny her the chance to go to college just because she can’t pass some dumb test?

The test isn’t even designed for high schoolers! I understand that it tests, like, middle school level material. How can we expect kids to remember stuff from that long ago?

Steamed
Los Angeles, CA

Dear Indigna,

A bunch of parents at our high school are really cheesed off by the requirement that the seniors have to do a research project. Come on, it’s senior year! These kids just want to have a little fun, and they’re hard pressed to find time for it what with all the extracurricular activities like sports, shopping, and keeping up with “The O.C.” I mean, it takes my son several hours a night just to respond to his email. When is he going to find time to do a research project?

Panties in a Bunch
Paterson, NJ

Dear Steamed and Panties,

I am grouping your letters because they address similar problems with our American society today, and believe me they are not the only ones I have received complaining about these issues! I even have a personal connection to this disgraceful breakdown of common sense and morality: I pay through the nose to send my kid to college yet those snotty “professors” keep giving him bad grades! What’s up with that?

But this isn’t about me, it’s about you and all the other parents of school-age children out there who are asking, “What psychotic is deciding what these kids need to learn?”

Let’s take so-called “Math,” for example. Look, don’t these elitist “educators” realize that most cash registers at dining establishments don’t use “numbers” anymore? They just have little pictures of the burgers and fries.

Furthermore, I’m surprised that newspapers even exist anymore! Haven’t they heard of Jon Stewart? I mean, helloooooooo!

And what about this “research paper?” Why must they reinvent the wheel when there are thousands of papers on every conceivable topic readily available on the web with a click of the mouse?

As for the tired old chestnut about “getting into a good college,” believe me, it’s far cheaper, faster and easier for your kids to just get a degree online. There are lots of sites that will sell you a diploma in almost any field you can think of.

What ever happened to the good old days? I understand that, historically, American children attended the “School of Hard Knocks” until they matriculated at “University of the Rails.” Students at that institution apparently engaged in a great deal of autonomous study employing classical pedagogical methods such as oral story and song, learning such diverse subjects as geography (“The Big Rock Candy Mountains”), history (“The Wreck Of The Old 97") and home economics (“Mulligan Stew”). And I understand that tuition was paid entirely in such community service as rock breaking or road work! I don’t hear any of those old-timers whining about not getting a quality education, do you?

I say we return to that golden age of self-directed education. Think about it. Don’t your kids know way more than you about video games, emoticons and hacking major governmental databases? They sure didn’t learn those skills from any teacher! Sure, we can keep the bricks & mortar schools—I mean, who wants a teenager hanging around the house all day, am I right?—but enough with the books and exams already. Just give ‘em all laptops and a high-speed wireless connection and just watch what those kids can do!

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