It has been a long time since I was in grade school. How long? So long that they had “right” and “wrong” answers. No different points of view, no “very fine answers on both sides.”
Tests were fairly simple to mark: Either your answer was right or wrong. Count the right answers, divide by the number of questions, and you have a score.
Typically, a score of at least 90 percent was an A, 80 percent was a B, 70 percent was a C, and 60 percent was a D. Anything less and you had to explain things to your parents.
Things have obviously changed. In Volusia County schools, 49 percent of the students pass the standard reading tests, and 48 percent pass math. Well, both are less than 60 percent. When I was in grade school, we would report these scores as failure.
It is a good thing the School Board does not have to deal with parents. If they brought home scores like these, they would receive some sound spankings. Also, no more playing outside: The next six weeks would be spent hitting the books.
In fairness, we should observe that other districts in Florida are having similarly bad results. Volusia’s 49-percent pass rate is close to the state average. If we really wanted to be fair about it, then, we would also make sure that the governor and commissioner of education also got good spankings.
I suppose there could be something wrong with Florida students. Maybe the students and parents are all wrong, and the edu-crats are correct. Maybe pigs will learn to fly, and I shall have bacon delivering itself to my front door.
I am not going to hold my breath waiting. And neither is the governor: He is busy issuing emergency declarations that there is no COVID-19 pandemic emergency.
No mention of whether the kids are learning to read: That is far less urgent. Right now, it is most urgent that we agree that there is no urgency.
If the problem is with the parents and not the education bureaucracy, then I guess everyone should get a participation trophy. Worry less about results: Do what you can, and then feel good.
In that case, we should probably embrace the governor’s emergency declarations of nonemergency. And that fits in with how the superintendent explained his thinking to the School Board — “I’m proud of the hard work by students and staff.”
— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.