The mythical Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man sang about trouble in River City enabled by the presence of a pool table.
That pool hall trouble is nothing compared with the educational vacuum enabled by lame school districts and those who run them.
This became apparent to me several years ago when my daughter brought home grade school assignments that rivaled high school and college work for those of us post-war baby boomers.
By middle school and high school it reached the point where some of this work was so complex that a person like me – with a doctoral degree – couldn’t understand her homework.
With that in mind, I have to wonder why we can teach geometry, algebra, calculus and trigonometry and yet many high school graduates can’t make change or figure out something as simple as miles per gallon of gasoline?
Why – with all the resources available – can’t many high school (or even college) graduates write a simple business letter or even properly address an envelope?
Just yesterday I received two letters from an attorney which were misaddressed and full of errors. One of the letters “demanded” prompt action which was delayed because the name of the intended recipient of her correspondence was omitted.
We may have used rotary dial telephones when I was in the third grade but, after a field trip to the Wisconsin Telephone Company, we had to write “thank you” letters. This continued throughout elementary and junior high school so that by high school we had some clue about how to write a letter.
It doesn’t stop there.
Our students are so inundated with required high-tech math and science requirements in that massive push for higher test scores that our schools have forsaken the basics.
That’s why we have high school graduates who can’t make change, figure out fuel economy or which item on the grocery store shelf is the better buy, write a simple business letter or prepare a resume.
These skills are necessary for everyday living. One would think that our schools would ensure that students master them before teaching the high-tech curriculum.
One would think.
But, as an old friend points out, if common sense was really common, they’d sell it at Wal-Mart.