Writing clearly and quickly is a valuable skill, writes Brent Staples in another good New York Times column.
The depth of the resistance to common-sense writing reforms became clear in April, when the National Council of Teachers of English attacked the College Board for adding a writing segment to the SAT, the college entrance exam required by an overwhelming majority of America’s four-year colleges and universities. The test, which consists of a brief, timed essay and a multiple-choice section, has already put schools and parents on notice that writing instruction needs to improve.
The English teachers, however, have other ideas. The group questioned the validity of the tests and trotted out the condescending notion that requiring poor and minority students to write in standard English is unfair because of their cultural backgrounds and vernacular languages.
Staples also defends timed writing tests. In college and on the job, people don’t always have time to polish their prose, he notes.