Another One “for the Books” re: Education in America

22 Nov

I was in a fast food restaurant on Tuesday for lunch.  I do eat in a lot of fast food restaurants and, although you will say this is not a healthy way to eat, sometimes we are treated to interesting slices of cultural directions and missteps.

This particular restaurant offers quarter-pound, one-third pound, and half-pound burger options.  Not wanting to overdose myself with what some of you would call poison, I ordered the quarter-pound version.  However, I noticed on the display that the young lady rang it up as a 1/3 pounder.

So — I simply said something like, “I’m sorry, but I thought I ordered a quarter-pounder — I certainly meant to.”  She looked at me for a few seconds like I was confused and should be consigned to a geriatric ward somewhere, but then suddenly caught on to what might be the source of the problem.  She took a couple of steps away from the register and asked someone in the back, “Bobby, is the quarter-pounder the  one-third button or the one-fourth button on the register?”

We all have our stories about [mostly] young people who can’t figure change from a dollar without a calculator or register, or who, if you give them $9.05 for an $8.05 purchase (because you don’t want the 95 cents in change) simply stare at you like the proverbial deer in the headlights.

But this was a new one on me.  This young lady might have been a high school grad, or maybe she was still in high school — I don’t know.  She seemed friendly and bright enough.  But — tell me — in what grade should we pick up on the fact that one-quarter means one-fourth?  Is that a higher math concept that must wait until high school or college?

[But here’s something I couldn’t figure out back when I prepared income taxes professionally.  How do people who are so number-challenged that they have to pay someone to fill out their basic 1040 know exactly how much they can earn in order to maximize their tax rebate that comes in the form of the Earned Income Credit?  Have they actually paid someone else to come up with this number so that the “earner” can stop working at the appropriate time during the year?]

And, of course, I need not remind you of the tests and survey results that show how grossly ignorant our population is (especially our younger population) regarding our history and our government.

The state of our education in this country is deplorable.  If the U.S. is sliding downhill as a nation and a culture, this has to be one of the big reasons why.  The types of jobs that a great and progressing nation has to offer people will lean more and more toward favoring a well-educated population, yet our young people seem to come out of high school and college with less and less knowledge (on average) about things that will contribute to the progress of a great nation.

The extra bad news for our future is that we have not adequately opened the doors to the number of educated immigrants we need to keep the steam up in the engines of progress.

Woe unto us.



2 Responses to “Another One “for the Books” re: Education in America”

  1. Joseph Edward Wages November 22, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    A couple of comments but no solutions. First, the education professionals answer to our problem is always more money for schools. That’s like “pouring good money after bad”.

    I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I believe I got my fractions straightened out in the fifth grade. And, the teacher was underpaid, teaching 13 kids spread over seven grades, in a one room schoolhouse, teaching piano in the afternoons, and having a great time doing it.

    The two institutions of higher learning I attended were also spartan in comparison to today’s, but I managed to get a useful education

    I am not recommending either arrangement for today, but I am questioning the correlation between money and quality education.

    The second comment, can we be and are we “great and progressing nations”.

    • illero November 22, 2012 at 11:15 am #

      Thanks for the comments. Actually, statistically speaking, I wonder if we would see ANY noteworthy “correlation between money and quality education” within developed nations. Come to think of it, even the paltry amounts of money that poorer nations can put into education might give better results than we get in the U.S. What a travesty.

      To your second comment — I am afraid that we might have gone too far down the path of accepting poor-to-mediocre results from teachers, students, and parents to ever get back onto the path to new, or sustained, greatness.

      As a side note, Joe, the only notification I get of your new offerings is when they get mentioned on Facebook, even though I am set up (I think) to be an e-mail follower. Also, with the new format your blog page is showing me, it is not obvious to me how I “Like” or leave a comment.

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