Wichita school employees and students are happy that the bond issue passed. As Wichitans watch new facilities being built — and as we start to pay for them — we need to remember that there are some things that this spending isn’t capable of fixing.
Both Helen Cochran and I received email messages from a young man who says he graduated from one of the Wichita school district’s large high schools in 2007. The writing of this recent graduate reveals a problem within Wichita’s schools.
A quick analysis of the writing tells us that person has no idea of when a writer should stop one sentence and begin the next. He repeatedly demonstrated that he doesn’t understand the difference between to and too. When to use there versus their is a problem, too.
Helen responded to him and expressed concern about his writing. His response? “No disrespect mam but I averaged a 4.0 GPA in highschool, I had no idea that you were going to judge me on my sentences otherwise I would have checked every single bit of my typing.”
Both Helen and I were shocked that someone who writes like this would have earned the grade of “A” in any writing class. What’s really curious is that he seems to claim the he could write correctly if he knew he was going to be graded. If, however, someone knows how to write correctly, if someone knows when to use there versus their, why not be correct all the time? It would take extra effort to “dumb down” correct usage to what this former student sent us.
Furthermore, this is a problem that the bond issue isn’t going to fix. Of all the things the bond issue will do, probably the one that would most directly address this young man’s problem is the district’s claim that smaller class sizes are better for student achievement. Does anyone believe, however, that the problem here is that this student was in classes that were slightly overcrowded? Did overcrowding cause teachers to grade writing like this with an “A”?
It might be that this student is lying to us about earning straight “A” grades. If so, that’s another problem, one that bond spending can’t fix. But if we take this student at his word, there is a severe problem within the Wichita school district that bond spending won’t fix.