Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Perhaps She Shouldn't Help Her Children With Their English Homework

Fishsticks receives a quick reply to his latest column from a public school bobo. Maybe he missed the irony inherent in the letter, or maybe he has too much class to point it out, but Sticks failed to address some revealing mistakes in the correspondent's semi-insulting screed. Fortunately for you, I have a sharp eye and no class. Keep in mind that Sticks' critic was once a teacher and has, presumably, helped her children with their homework:

After teaching a couple years long ago and having two boys in public schools here in St. Paul, I know the problem with falling scores, [should be a colon here, not a comma -ed.] parents. Yes, for every one parent actively involved with their [disagreement in number - i.e the plural "their" as pronoun for "one parent" -ed.] child's education there are ten that are not. It is easy for a parent to show up at one meeting and complain, [sentence should end here, and begin a new one with the next word. -ed.] it is hard ["difficult" would be a better word. I'll let it go as a stylistic preference -ed.] sitting down every night to see what your child is doing in school. It is hard to turn the TV, Gameboy or whatever off [should read "to turn off the TV..."; while this construction is not technically a split infinitive, the potential confusion to the reader is similar. -ed. ] and make your child do the homework or read a book.

A teacher in middle school on up has your child for maybe fifty minutes along with 30-40 other children a day, [should be a semicolon or a new sentence here - not a comma -ed.] do the math for how much attention can be given to any one student. [If you actually do the math, you will realize that this can't possibly be what she meant. -ed.] I found in a discussion about education with my colleagues at work that the voucher proponents spent less time with their children than the public school proponents. [Strawman alert! Gross unfounded generalization alert!. -ed.] So long as parents rant and rave about their "schools" and fail to even moderately follow their children's DAILY progress [Should be comma here. Stylistically, this sentence would be better constructed if the "schools will do poorly" clause appeared at the beginning of it rather than at the end .-ed.] schools will do poorly. Parents are responsible for seeing their children do their work [Need comma here. -ed.] and they have a responsibility to the community's children to financially support our schools.

Also [Comma! -ed.] wake up and smell the coffee, [Cliche'. Also, sentence should end here.] it is easy for a family making $100,000 to be involved [Another gross, unfounded generalization. Also needs a comma here. -ed.] but by a large margin they are not involved [Unfounded assertion. -ed.] , so how does a family of long hours and modest means have the luxury of time and money? [End of run-on sentence; beginning of a new one. -ed.] Social and economic ills effect [Should be "affect". You were a teacher?-ed.] education despite the belief by [Should be "of," not "by". -ed.] the public school bashers, but the same bashers are most likely clueless to their own children's education [SYNTAX interrupts: "Help! I'm being tortured!" -ed.] because they care more about their money than they truly do about their children's education. [Yet another unfounded assertion and gross generalization. -ed.] So who really is delusional? [Gratuitous ad hominem, you dumbass. -ed.]

Wow! Syntactically impaired. Substantively impaired. [Sentence fragments. -ed.]

Oh, shut up.

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