"When High Schools Try Getting Tough, Parents Fight Back"
I laughed at my own demographic group, that is to say pushy obnoxious parents of teenagers, when I read Robert Tomsho's article (today's Wall Street Journal) on intimidated school administrators.
People complain that U.S. schools ask too little of students and prepare them poorly for college and/or life.
Even three-page papers are rare in English classes these days and 75% of seniors say they get no writing assignments at all in history/social studies classes... Employers and college professors overwhelmingly rated high-school graduates as 'fair' or 'poor' in basic math and clear writing in a 2002 study...In particular, senior year is often considered a dead loss since the kids' minds are on other things altogether, as I'm sure you all remember!
In reaction, some high schools have begun to require semester-long "senior projects" which typically include an eight-page paper, an oral presentation and the creation of a related "product."
Hey! That sorta sounds like fun... and nothing kids on their way to real life (or college) shouldn't be able to handle. And creating a product, what a great idea! America is raising generations of people who don't know how to DO or MAKE anything! They just know how to USE and BUY stuff!
Here are some things people used to know how to do:
- knit and sew their own clothes
- grow their own food
- fix their own cars
- build their own furniture
- cook their own dinner
- repair their own plumbing
- tie their own fishing nets
- make papier mache models of castles for medieval day at school
Oh, well. Score one for the volcanic self-righteousness of my demographic. At one school, where three kids had been busted for plagiarism and banned from the graduation ceremony, parents wore black armbands in protest. Parents have staged walkouts, raged at principals, crammed their angry selves into school-board meetings, signed petitions, and leafleted church services, all to protect their darlings from having to write a paper and make something.
In one school Tomsho covers, parents even hired a lawyer, threatening a court injunction to suspend the entire program. In response, of course, the school administration caved. The incendiary "senior project" was demoted to a "senior seminar" and the length of the paper was cut to three pages.
Meaty papers about subjects like campaign-finance reform and corporate monopolies gave way to brief essays, such as the history of Barbie dolls and the significance of proms.Way to go, America! That'll show them!
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