Spelling Bee Protest

The Associated Press ran a story with the headline, “In DC, even the Spelling Bee draws protesters.”

The article did mention that there were only four of them and that they were peaceful.

It does seem that today anything can be protested, even the way in which words have been spelled for hundreds of years.

The likely ringleader of the group was a former elementary school principal who feels that enough should be spelled as enuf and fruit as froot and claims that “the current language obstructs 40 percent of the population from learning how to read, write and spell.”

Nowhere in the article is there reference to where the 40 percent figure comes from. Perhaps it is derived from legal and illegal immigrants arriving and trying to master American English. As well, if students were taught phonics in school, they would not have this spelling issue.

A quick read through the over one thousand posts to the article show that the vast majority of Main Street USA does not agree with the four protesters.

Many people wrote about why we should not dumb down education even further than it already has been for decades. One person posted this: “I think this woman personifies everything about what’s wrong w/ our educational system.”

Perhaps the protesters should take a look at Noah Webster’s 1783 “blue back” speller, the actual title of which is A Grammatical Institute of the English Language, to see what our Founding Fathers considered as essential for the education of American society.

Or, maybe they could muster the courage to take the 1895 8th grade final exam from Salina, KS. It is challenging to anyone, even those with a doctorate in education, and puts on display what students were expected to learn by the time they were teenagers. For those who are interested it can be viewed here: 1895 9th Grade Final Exam (Good Luck).

Admittedly, there are a couple of questions applicable to that particular time period and locale, but the majority of questions are for everyone’s general education, including today. And, as is pointed out on the website, the school year was seven months long, leaving five months for planting, farming and harvest.

The above is one of the best arguments against statements that the current school year needs to be lengthened in order to properly educate our students, as proposed by the White House and Department of Education. (It is this bloggers belief that school days are too short and break and vacation time during the academic year is probably excessive.)

However, the point is that back then students had to master the basics in an equivalent period of educational time.

Today, as evidenced by years of various and sundry tests, they do not.

The wheel, so to speak, does not be to reinvented. It needs to be resurrected.

Over For now.

Main Street One