Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Too Dumb To Pass 10th Grade? Congratulations, Graduate!

Nearly 70% of black students in some Massachusetts school systems get through 12 years of public education without mastering 10th grade math and English. About 20% of all freshmen in many Boston-area school systems simply drop out of school because they're too dumb for the 10th grade.

Which means these young people head into adulthood with a distinct disadvantage. College success is unlikely, the pool of available jobs is diminished and they're likely to suffer economically for the rest of their lives. What's the solution to this problem?

Why, give these failed 10th graders high school diplomas, of course!

That's what Massachusetts representative Carl Sciortino wants to do. He and a gang of the usual suspects (Sen. Wilkerson, Rep. Wolf, Rep. Khan, etc.) want to end the requirement that all Massachusetts high school graduates must pass the 10th grade MCAS test. They claim that this standard is too high and is forcing otherwise quality students to drop out of school. After all, if you know you're never going to pass the MCAS, why stay in school?

One might ask the question "If you can't do 10th grade math by the 12th grade, why aren't you studying harder?" Or even the more politically incorrect "If you're still this dumb after 12 years of taxpayer funded education, your teachers must have REALLY sucked!"

Speaking on behalf of employers everywhere, sending me potential employees who can't read at a 10th grade level is a waste of time. If I want employees who can't read and write English, I'll just hire illegal immigrants and save some money. If I wanted employees who can't do math, I'll put Deval Patrick's budget team on my staff.

Is it really too much to ask of Massachusetts students to master the 10th grade? Is it asking too much of our teachers to get these kids there after 12 years? If the 10th grade is too hard, why not make the standard the 9th grade? 8th? Why have a standard at all?

Meanwhile, kids from backwaters like Malaysia and the Slovak Republic are kicking our algebraic asses. Their schools aren't saying "10th grade is too hard." They're saying "12th grade isn't good enough--let's learn some college math, too!"

So when our Massachusetts students get bumped from the best schools or lose out on good jobs to these kids from India and Asia, should the Americans say "Hey--that's not fair! Nobody said anything about 'standards' when I was in school!"

In the real world, my government-school-stooge friends, there is NO affirmative action. There is accomplishment and competence, or incompetence and failure.

Time to choose, Rep. Sciortino.

UPDATE: Special thanks to Larry in the 11th Grade for correcting the grammar on this post.