A Typical School in the US

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From a comment:

If you have a bachelor’s degree, you can work the $10.40/hr temp job of standardized test grader to see how right you are. You’ll grade thousands of papers that demonstrate how profound the literacy crisis is.

I went to crappy public schools that were not dangerous, like some of today’s schools, but they were zoo-like, with an atmosphere that focused on 1) athletics, 2) the type of jeans and tennis shoes you wore and 3) the cut-down culture among a bunch of young bullies who grew up to be workplace bullies in many cases.

I learned little there, and the social atmosphere was damaging due to rampant bullying that was uncurbed by teachers, with some of the teachers even participating in it.

A typical learning event included the large number of coach teachers calling their classes into one room and showing a Fellowship of Christian Athletes film. The coach teachers would pat the floor to get the girls to come and sit beside them. Give-a-care female teachers who likely never read a book that was not assigned in college ignored the viscous bullying of students by other students, going on right under their un-motherly noses.

Most of the teachers — male and female — were just getting through the day in their safe government jobs. Some of the female teachers were catty cubed to the young female students, likely due to things that had nothing to do with their job.

There was a lot of paddling of a few boys and a lot of girls in tight jeans or cheerleading skirts by teachers with a coach "witness." This was for egregious sins, like chewing gum in class or passing notes in class.

I say all of this to point out that I had zero empathy for junior high and high school teachers until I graded all these standardized tests. The situation appears to be worse than when I was in school. I am not sure how much control the teachers have. When it comes to shortfalls in the most basic literacy skills, some of it is likely due to the home lives of students.

You would know what I meant if you graded batch after batch of essays, suddenly encountering a whole batch of papers that were not perfect by any means, but were very different than the overall papers.

Recent generations of politicians have decided to pay single parents to copulate and reproduce if they work 20 hours or more for low wages, propping up independent households for them and unleashing a widespread social trend of single-parent households. It probably was not a big deal to have some single-parent households before it became such a large trend, with 62% of births now out-of-wedlock.

The standards for raising children are no longer high. Nor are the teaching standards high in the era of the two-earner, feminist households, where many teachers below the college level aren’t passionately interested in the subject they teach.

Most of the teachers are moms who majored in Education. They want to be home with their own kids in the summer, and teaching is a way to do it. These teachers are not the spinster intellectuals of past eras, nor are they the male breadwinners in most cases, although males can get a teaching job easier in subjects like history or English if they coach.

Secondary school teaching is a second-income profession. It is a good way to have a safe second income when the dad holds a more lucrative, but less certain, corporate job. Teaching — like so many jobs — revolves around family composition and the personal-life issues of the employees.

Still, a lot of the recently retired teachers who were a part of the momma-clique teaching system think grammar should be taught. It isn’t anymore.

I did this grading during No Child Left Behind and in the years right after Obama took office. We were trained to grade the essays according to the varying standards of different states, using a so-called "holistic" approach.

Many graders were weeded out in an initial series of tests. A bunch of hoop jumping is required for every one of these low-wage temp jobs. It is an absurd world, where many highly paid mommas and many mommas in low-wage jobs, too, can take a ton of excused time off from work. Laxness abounds for many employees, but every low-wage temp job that would never cover rent requires a ton of hoop jumping.

The papers were graded using a convoluted literary theory, not by the kids’ knowledge of the basic rules of grammar and composition, causing a lot of snide comments among the retired school teachers.

The temp grading sessions were staffed with about 1/3rd to 1/2 retired teachers, with the rest of the graders being underemployed college grads who were never teachers.

A lot us assumed that grammar would be a component of the grading, but except in the case of one state, where it was one of 6 grading criteria, it was not.

Every once in awhile, we got a batch of papers with a green dot, indicating that, like in the initial testing phase, we would be kicked out of the grading session if our grading did not align with X percentage of sample papers.

There were grades of 1,2,3 and 4. A good paper was not necessarily grammatically correct, but had a lot of so-called "elaboration." This basically meant a lot of specific detail, like the literary theory that says good writing is not too generalized. That theory is about literary style and efficacy in communicating ideas, not about the fundamentals of English that should be taught in 3rd, 4th or 8th grade.

Believe it or not, a bad and even failing paper could be the paper of a child who cared about organizing his or her ideas in a logical way. S/he could display an awareness of paragraph structure and grammar. But if the kid did not get the required number of words down in 30 minutes, you were supposed to grade it a 2 in some states.

I felt sorry for those kids. It was totally unfair to them and, in cases where graders really gave them a 2, it was probably very discouraging for no good or logical reason. These kids were grouped with kids who showed far less fundamental understanding.

Here is the reason: it is easier to teach more kids to pass the "elaboration" test than to teach them grammar, especially when so many kids come to school from home situations that make it harder to teach them. The schools get their money based on how many kids score well on the test. These tests also determine which ones go to the next grade.

In many states, a 2 was an incoherent paper packed with unrelated sentences. A 1 was a paper that did not even have one or two fully formulated, legible sentences. Zerohedge recently did an article describing a state where a staggering number of papers got a 1, meaning that the kids are not even basically literate.

Within the group that got the maximum score, a tiny number of kids wrote brilliant little papers. A couple were even funny all the way through, in addition to being grammatically correct and meeting all of the nutty, "holistic" requirements that ensure a good grade in a bad system.

We live in a crazy world.

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