Tag Archives: literacy

Does a college degree mean someone is literate? Think again..a rant

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This blog is a rant. It is a disturbing glimpse into what type of student we are turning out of the Colleges here in the United States. We are the so-called most “educated” country in the world, and yet what I see these days does not bode well in many instances as we compete on a global level for the few jobs available here in the United States.

For the longest time, I was just as upset as the next person about the many jobs we were giving to people from other countries as there are so many people who need to work here and who will spend their money here and grow our economy. But, with that being said, those companies are looking to hire people with the best skills and the best minds just like they always were. Sadly, they struggle to find them!

We have slipped and our educational system is truly broken from where I sit. I see it on a daily basis. All persons coming through the program I work with are REQUIRED to take a basic math and reading test to determine literacy for many of the trainings they wish to take that will be funded by tax dollars. The test is on a high school level through the 12th grade. There is no algebra or any really hard math on this test. They are not allowed to use a calculator but are able to use a pencil to do the math problems from scratch. It is not pretty.

We used to exempt those people who held a “bachelor’s degree or above” from taking the test as the thought was that they would of course be literate enough for any of the short-term vocational training that they wish to pursue. As a few of those “educated” persons began handing our Job Developer resumes and cover letters that looked as though they were written by a child of say 8 or 9 years old, we began to take a hard look at those people holding “degrees” and realized that many of them are barely literate!

What I am about to say is a rather biased opinion that I have but it is borne of personal observation. It is not the more mature college graduates of whom I am speaking. It is the more recent, younger thespians that I am referring to. Some of them can’t string two sentences together! Math? Forget about it. Most test out around the 5th grade level!! What I have been seeing is truly disturbing. What in the heck happened to our educational system?

How can someone who has a high school diploma, let along a BS or BA not be able to add and subtract, multiply and divide? How did we let this happen? I know it is systemic. I know it has a lot to do with the demands placed on our educators of being both Police Officer, Mommy, Daddy, and so many other things. Children no longer “fear” consequences.

When I was a child, if you had to go to the Principal’s office or if you received detention, not only did you have to fear that, but you had your parents to deal with too. Now, my good friend who teaches tells me that if you give a child a poor grade or detention, you have to fear the parent’s wrath. They head straight to the Superintendent’s office to file a “complaint” on why little “Melissa” was sent to the principal’s office for texting during class after she had been warned repeatedly to “stop.” God forbid the teacher “confiscates” that cell phone. The lawyers would be involved at that point!

We recently had an opening at my agency for an Employment Specialist, a position I currently hold as a “Senior” Employment Specialist. This person must write case notes. We asked for a “writing sample” during the interview based on a scenario they were given. What we saw was absolutely shocking! Frightening! It seems that little “Melissa” grew up texting so much, that she now writes like this:
“Ur (for you are) BFF (best friend forever) nds (needs) the 411 (scoop) on 2-day’s (today’s) news. Catch u layter.”

While it is not all young people as there are many bright minds out there, it is still enough to scare me! It should scare you too. We need back to the basics and we need to pay for good teachers! Stop awarding degrees to those who can’t read or write. Off soapbox!

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