Students: ‘Us deserve respect’

At an F-rated New York City high school, failing students earn quick credits through online courses, the New York Post reported.

While it’s called “blended learning,” the credit-recovery “courses” don’t include interaction with a teacher. One teacher is assigned to 475 students trying to earn credits in a wide variety of subjects. Murry Bergtraum High for Business Careers specializes in overage or held-back students who lack credits.

After the Post story ran, students wrote to defend the program. Nearly all the letters were filled with spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, reports the Post.  

A junior wrote: “What do you get of giving false accusations im one of the students that has blended learning I had a course of English and I passed and and it helped a lot you’re a reported your support to get truth information other than starting rumors?.?.?.”

Another wrote: “To deeply criticize a program that has helped many students especially seniors to graduate I should not see no complaints.”

One student said the online system beats the classroom because “you can digest in the information at your own paste.”

“Us as New York City Students deserve respect and encouragement,” one letter read. “We are the future of New York City and for some students, The future of the country.”

I doubt if that future will include business careers.

Proofreading prof charged with ‘microaggression’

Protesters claimed a “toxic” racial climate in UCLA’s graduate education school motivated their sit-in last week in the classroom of Professor Val Rust.

Call2Action protesters said Rust committed “microaggression” by correcting their grammar and spelling on their dissertation proposals, wrote the professor in a letter from China, where he’s traveling. He also said “Students of Color” were angry that he hadn’t stopped a student discussion.

. . . a white female student . . . wants to use Standpoint Theory [a method of analysis coined by feminist sociologist Dorothy Smith, based on the idea that all knowledge is subjective and based on one's position in society] in her dissertation, and the Student of Color told her she had no business claiming that she was a member of an oppressed group. She came back saying there are all kinds of oppression. I likely did not handle the situation well, because I chose not to stop the discussion between them, so it went on for quite a while, and the Students of Color apparently interpreted my silence to mean I wasn’t supporting them.”

Rust urged the department to organize a town hall meeting later in the month to begin a dialogue.

Protesters did complain about Rust’s corrections reports Inside Higher Ed.  In addition, Call2Action’s letter accused the professor and classmates of repeatedly questioning their “epistemological and methodological commitments.”

The statement accuses “the professor” (it does not identify Rust by name) of correcting “perceived grammatical choices that in actuality reflect ideologies” and “repeatedly questioning the value of our work on social identity and the related dynamics of oppression, power and privilege.” The “barrage of questions by white colleagues and the grammar ‘lessons’ by the professor have contributed to a hostile class climate,” it continues.

“Students consistently report hostile classroom environments in which the effects of white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and other forms of institutionalized oppression have manifested within the department and deride our intellectual capacity, methodological rigor, and ideological legitimacy,” charges Call2Action’s online petition.

“Many of us have been through the formal complaint system of leveraging charges … the letters are reviewed, and we receive responses saying (the) charges have no merit,” said Kenjus Watson, a graduate student researching black men and microaggressions in higher education. Some have questioned his research as “too subjective,” he said. (I’ll be microaggressive and point out that “leveraging” is the wrong word. He must mean “leveling.”)

Many current and former students defended Rust, saying he was singled out unfairly. The sit-in was a “mean-spirited circus that creates exactly the hostile and toxic environment” the demonstrators claim to be fighting against, wrote Stephanie Kim, a graduate student who works with Rust, in the Daily Bruin. “

As a woman of color, I am deeply saddened that my adviser and mentor for the last five years, Rust, was unjustly demonized as the symbol of white male oppression as a cheap way of arousing public support.

Call2Action is demanding more black and Latino professors, a streamlined complaint procedure, etc. But what they really want is an end to “questioning” of their ideas, research methods, values — and grammar. That would be a toxic victory.

Summer reading: Ornell, ‘The Great Gypsy’


The Hempstead Public Schools summer reading list has

The Hempstead Public Schools summer reading list has more than 30 errors, including misspellings of ‘The Great Gatsby,’ David McCullough and Frederick Douglass.

George Ornell, Emily Bonte and F. Scott Fizgerald’s The Great Gypsy are on the error-riddled summer reading list of Hempstead Public Schools, reports Newsday. The Long Island newspaper found more than 30 mistakes, including misspellings of authors’ names and book titles.

The full reading list  is “coordinated according to the New York State Common Core Learning Standards by grade level,” the intro proclaims. The writer’s excessive fondness for commas also mars the writing.

I note that ninth and 10th graders are encouraged to read The Witch of Blackbird by Elizabeth George Apeare over the summer. I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare in third or fourth grade. The School Library Journal says it’s written for grades 5 to 8.

Eleventh and 12th graders are urged to read the Declaration of Independence by R. Conrad Stein. You thought it was by Thomas Jefferson? This is a book about the Declaration written for kids in grades 3 to 5.

Spelling counts

Spelling counts in Jessica Lahey’s English classes because it ‘s going to count when her students apply to college or apply for jobs, she writes in The Atlantic.

She also insists middle-school girls wear skirts long enough to cover their underwear.

I absolutely agree that we should not be judging girls on the length of their skirts any more than we judge them on their ability to discern “affect” from “effect,” but we do. In order to get through the door at an interview or past the threshold of an application process, my students are going to have to meet a standard, and it’s part of my job to teach them about that standard.

. . . This is true even for students who struggle with spelling and grammar because of some glitch in their processing, a learning disability, or a simple lack of exposure to written language. Many of these weak spellers are lovely, intelligent people, and I would love to promise them that society will see past their flawed spelling, grammar, and diction to the ideas beneath. But I can’t.

“If I taught my students that they could go to a job interview wearing a bikini and wielding a wadded resume riddled with errors and still be respected for their brains and skills, I would not be doing them any favors,” Lahey concludes.

In my first job at a chain of suburban newspapers, I helped sort through a stack of applications to hire a new reporter.  In my second job, I helped find an assistant magazine editor. In both cases, we rejected every application that contained a spelling, punctuation or grammatical error. Only a few resumes and cover letters were error free. Those we read carefully.

2nd graders correct NFL players’ tweets

Second graders at Elmwood Franklin School in Buffalo “applied their lessons in proper sentence structure, noun and verb usage, spelling, and punctuation to correct the tweets of professional football players, posting their corrections on the school’s Facebook page. The most common mistake was the incorrect spelling of “a lot.”

The students corrected a tweet by San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver, who made headlines this week for an anti-gay remark, reports the Daily Caller.  Students fixed the spelling in “I pray to God I’m never dieing broke,” though they didn’t translate it to standard English: “I pray to God that I don’t die broke.”

Second Graders Correct Tweets From NFL Players And It's Magical

Detroit Lions wide receiver Titus Young also drew the students’ attention by tweeting: “It’s true I could be alot better, But wit the football.”

New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker erred in a “Merry Christmas” message by adding: “My God bless you all!”

All three players are college graduates, according to the Daily Caller.

'Eduction' appreciation

To show appreciation for teachers, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ Career and Technical Education Department handed out coasters for which it had paid $1,500.  “Education” was spelled “eduction.” Otherwise, a great idea.

Via Dave Barry’s blog.

Yo Comments Are Whack!

This SisterSalad YouTube video, Yo Comments Are Whack!, defends correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.  Yes!