Don’t Be Knockin’ Education

A very dull knife in the drawerYesterday (October 1st, 2009) our local free newspaper in Tampa (tbt* – http://tampabay.com/tbt/) published a verbatim letter to the editors that they received from an 11th grade student in the area who disagreed with Obama’s push for education reform that includes longer school years/weeks in a long-winded, error-laden piece of mess. Read the original letter to the editors here: “A student’s letter to tbt*”

I’ll be the first to tell you there are a lot of stupid people out there. Students, teachers, parents, workers, bosses… all walks of life. By definition, 50% of the population has a less than average intelligence – something to think about while driving. Despite those terrible statistics that Jay Leno exposes on a regular basis, don’t knock the rest of academia and those who love to learn and keep on learning after it’s not required.

That said, that article is a piece of work… I mean, a piece of art. I’ve spent a good many years proofreading papers and always spot typographic errors in publications. I was an editor for 3 years and know what things look like when a stupid person writes something. To even consider that letter to the editor as a contribution to society is laughable. Even numbskulls know about capitalizing sentences – what they don’t know is how to use parenthetical statements (which that person did twice). There is also a sign of significant intelligence in the actual ideas of the letter, though I’m not sure which provoked the tbt* editors more: the atrocious spelling or the position on the topic that the student took. The very existence of the letter should set off some alarms to the validity of the piece as written by an idiot.

Two more points for kickers: 1) would tbt* have published the piece if it was written with perfect prose – would it have made its way out of a pile of letters they receive every day? 2) if it was written by a dolt, they would have not known how poor the grammar was and would have omitted the request for anonymity.

Here is the first page of the replies to the editor that tbt* received in response to the student letter: Replies to the editor

I am calling for a full-scale investigation of the author to have tbt* report back that said author is actually an honor roll student with plans to attend the USF Honor’s College next fall, but is fearful of any action the university may take against their application if this was attributed to them.

  • http://www.daverothacker.com Dave Rothacker

    Hey Jesse,

    My bet on tbt*’s motive to publish is based on grammar and spelling, which they no doubt believed would lead to reader reaction. They succeeded.

    I agree, this piece was not written by a junior in high school.

    I do believe there is at least one teachable moment from this experience regardless of who it was actually written by. If a young person wants to be listened to and understood via the written word, he or she needs to put care in arranging their thoughts and use good grammar in presenting their prose.

  • http://www.daverothacker.com Dave Rothacker

    Hey Jesse,

    My bet on tbt*’s motive to publish is based on grammar and spelling, which they no doubt believed would lead to reader reaction. They succeeded.

    I agree, this piece was not written by a junior in high school.

    I do believe there is at least one teachable moment from this experience regardless of who it was actually written by. If a young person wants to be listened to and understood via the written word, he or she needs to put care in arranging their thoughts and use good grammar in presenting their prose.

  • http://www.cffatboy.com/ Jesse Petersen

    I saw on the 6th that the “student” wrote back in to apologize for not using spell check. Pffft! I am going to write a letter to the editor about writing sensationalist pieces that just get the public worked up into a frenzy over nothing.

    I’d rather follow Howard Troxler’s story on the St. Pete hot dog woman’s plight with the city to sell hot dogs to the theater patrons after dark.

  • http://www.perfectlypetersen.com Jesse Petersen

    I saw on the 6th that the “student” wrote back in to apologize for not using spell check. Pffft! I am going to write a letter to the editor about writing sensationalist pieces that just get the public worked up into a frenzy over nothing.

    I’d rather follow Howard Troxler’s story on the St. Pete hot dog woman’s plight with the city to sell hot dogs to the theater patrons after dark.