Friday, October 22, 2010

'The Writing and Logic Are So Confused I Thought It Was a Joke'

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Is it any wonder why the UFT is afraid to release performance reviews of their teachers to the public? If this incoherent letter from a principal is any indication, the children in New York City public schools are hopelessly doomed.
A rambling letter from the principal of a Brooklyn middle school was so poorly written and full of grammatical errors that parents and teachers say he deserves a dunce cap.

Principal Andrew Buck of the Middle School for Art and Philosophy was defending his policy of not providing textbooks in the email sent last week.

Or at least he seemed to be.

It was hard to tell because his logic was so bewildering, his language so stilted. His subjects and verbs didn't always match. He repeatedly misspelled "textbook" as two words.

After Buck fired off the email to teachers, parents got a hold of it and passed out copies in front of the East Flatbush school. Many are calling for his ouster.

"Our principal denies us books and then he sends this nonsense," said Paulette Brown, a nurse assistant from Flushing whose daughter is in the eighth grade. "You can't understand what he's saying in the letter. He has to go."

Buck, who earns $129,913 as head of the C-rated school, noted in the email that "a few influential parents" have been pushing for more textbooks in the classroom.

"Text books are the soup de jour, the sine qua non, the nut and bolts of teaching and learning in high school and college so to speak," he wrote in one head-scratching passage.

Buck appeared to switch positions midway through the document. After saying textbooks are useful, he went the other way:

"[J]ust because student have a text book, doesn't mean she or she will be able to read it . . . Additionally students can't use a text book to learn how to learn from a textbook..."

In one particularly bizarre section, Buck revealed that not being able to correctly answer questions at the back of many textbooks made him feel "dumb and inadequate" when he was a middle school student.

The missive contains about 50 errors of grammar and logic, said experts who reviewed it.

"The letter is a confusing mess," said Alan Ettman, who has taught English at Hewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx for 26 years.

"The grammar is horrible. The logic is tortured. I can't figure out what he's trying to say," said Ettman, who gave the letter a grade of F.

"It's as though each paragraph is not related to the one that comes before or after," Ettman said. "I think he's just trying to make excuses for not buying books."

Jack Wolkenfeld, a professor of English at Kingsborough Community College for 36 years, said the letter suggested a confused thought process.

"It's hasty, like the author hasn't thought it out," Wolkenfeld said. "The writing and logic are so confused I thought it was a joke."

Nobody's laughing at the Lenox St. school where only 13% of eighth-graders passed state reading exams last year.
Back in my college days our newspaper ran an editorial critical of the poor performance of students in the teaching department. We then had a graduate teaching student deliver a letter in rebuttal to us demanding we print it. It was the most illiterate piece of writing I'd ever seen. So we printed the letter as it was and it set off a firestorm at the university. Immediately we were accused of making it up to embarrass the writer. We then posted it on the office door and suddenly the teaching students were rendered silent, save for a few who came forward to admit how humiliating it was. I then had an English professor use it as a demonstration on how not to write.

Long story short: This is not meant to bash teachers, many of whom are intelligent and dedicated. But the unions who protect the incompetent ones while disrespecting parents must be held accountable. Yet they and the Democratic Party refuse to give parents a choice and the kids are left to suffer. They know more about condoms, so-called diversity, global warming hoaxes and voting Democrat than they know how to spell, add, subtract and compose a coherent sentence. When you have a principal who can't string a simple sentence together, how can we believe any child in that school will be properly educated?

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