Sunday, November 19, 2006

How much is that coffee in the bag?

Tuesday August 29, 2006 2:46 PM

First the article, then the commentary:

SAT Score Drop Biggest in 31 Years

Tuesday August 29, 2006 2:46 PM


AP Education Writer

The high school class of 2006 recorded the sharpest drop in SAT scores in 31 years, a decline that the exam's owner, the College Board, said was partly due to some students taking the newly lengthened test only once instead of twice.

Fatigue wasn't to blame, the College Board insisted, even though this year's class was the first to take a new version of the exam which added an essay. It now takes an average of three hours and 45 minutes to complete the test, not counting breaks.

The results come several months after numerous colleges reported surprisingly low SAT scores for this year's incoming college freshmen. The nonprofit College Board, which had said scores would be down this year, released figures Tuesday showing combined critical reading and math skills fell seven points on average to 1021.

The average critical reading score fell from 508 to 503, while math dropped from 520 to 518. On the new SAT writing section, the class scored 497 on average, with girls scoring 11 points higher than boys.

On the SAT, boys' scores fell eight points from 513 to 505 in critical reading and from 538 to 536 in math. Girls' scores fell from 505 to 502 in reading and from 504 to 502 in math.

Average reading scores for black students rose 1 point from 433 to 434, while math scores fell two points from 431 to 429.

The College Board lists three categories for Hispanic students. Scores for Mexican-Americans rose three points overall, Puerto Ricans' fell two points and scores of students who identified themselves as ``Other Hispanic'' fell 11 points.


I am not amazed and astonished to see that scores are dropping. Things will only continue to get worse, since public education is so screwed that it is now FUBAR. (Fouled Up Beyond All Repair.) Kids in mixed gender classes spend far more time thinking about things that have no business in the classroom, for starters. After elementary school, all classes should be separate. The other problem is the teachers - who, after all, themselves have the lowest SAT and ACT scores of graduates of all the colleges in the Universities. Education has been called the college of last resort, as it often attracts people who couldn't make it at another college in the University. These people graduate and largely end up in the public school system, because many private schools require teachers to have actual degrees in an area of academic interest, not just an "education" degree. They try and teach for a few years and then quit, because it's hard, they're ignorant, and the pay sucks. They're replaced by other newbies who quickly go through the same process. Most new teachers leave teaching completely within 5-10 years.

The entire paradigm of public education is based on an outdated factory model. Problem is, kids are not interchangeable parts. One size does not fit all. And the American system makes no allowance whatsoever for kids who have no natural aptitude for classroom studies. In Europe, those kids can go onto an alternate track where they become apprentices and journeymen learning various trades. Here, kids may opt to go to "vo-tech," but it's considered just above failure to do so and is shunned and frowned upon. I can't imagine why, though. Have you seen what plumbers charge just to walk in your door? Electricians? Tile layers? Framers? These guys make a very good living, yet they are treated badly in American society, because they don't want a desk job.

But as I said, that's just part of the problem. The main problem is that the schools cannot and will not adapt themselves to each students individual learning styles, political, religious, and philosophical background, and future employment needs. That's why we need to scrap public education completely, and allow parents to choose which school(s) are most appropriate for their child(ren) based on the above issues. And the main thing on the kids mind all day at school should not be sex, clothes, make-up, hairstyles, or who is sitting next to whom of the opposite gender. And the way things are now, that isn't going to happen.

In closing, let me tell you about my adventure buying coffee yesterday. I went to Common Grounds, a coffee house downtown, to buy some fair trade coffee (guatemalan antigua, if you must know). I went to the row of beans, selected the ones I wanted, opened the chute and dropped most of the bag full of beans. I then went to the grinder and ground my beans. I weighed the bag, and it weighed .84 lbs. I wrote this on the bag, and went to the counter. So far, so good.

There, I met a college student working at Common Grounds. She looked at me blankly for a second and then asked me how much coffee was in the bag. I pointed to where I had written the weight, and told her "point 84 pounds." She stared intently at the bag for a minute, then said, "I don't know how to figure out the price of this. Let me get some help." And she left the counter. She came back with another college age girl, who proceeded to look on a chart, which I presume showed prices for various types of coffee in 1/4 pound increments. She said to her co-worker, "Well, let's see, it's more than 3/4 of a pound and less than a pound, so let's just say $10.00." I was stunned for a moment, and then pulled my calculator out of my purse. I said, "The way to find out the correct price for the coffee is to multiply the price of the coffee by the amount in the bag. What is the price of the coffee per pound?" The first girl answered, "Twelve-fifty." The other girl went to the cash register, meanwhile. So I entered 12.5 x .84 into the calculator, and showed her the result. I said aloud, so the other girl could hear, "The correct price is $10.50, plus tax if applicable." The first girl said, "There's no tax." The second girl then said, "Well, I already rang it up," and she handed me my receipt for $10.00 even.

Neither of these girls had the foggiest idea how to figure out the price of produce. They are college students, and somehow got all the way out of high school without being able to multiply the weight of a fruit or vegetable or dry good by it's price per pound to figure out the actual cost. This is what America's educational system is turning out - complete idiots unable to function in the real world. It's no wonder they can't pass their SATs, class. They can't even figure out what their groceries cost.

And these girls are going to run the businesses of the future? I think not.

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