Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Pass the Waffles, Please

Washington state, home of Bigfoot and Glen the Lake Boren Carp, has imposed a condition on our school kids. In order to qualify as a edgicated person they have to pass the WASL – (Washington Assessment of Student Learning), apparently pronounced “waffle.” This test “measures student learning of the state’s academic standards” and I want to say those are some pretty good standards. For example the Washington State DOT thinks an 18% error rate is just dandy for issuing $49 tickets to drivers on the new bridge. New math.

Have you come face to face with a recent HS grad at Wendy’s? If the cash register tells them your change is 63 cents it takes them 10 minutes to figure out how many quarters that is. So maybe the Superintendent of Public Instruction has a point. This brings up the title of the test. If we’re testing student learning doesn’t that mean we’re testing how the teachers are doing? To me this is really bass ackwards.

First we should make a point of adequately funding the schools and paying teachers so better educated people from other states will come and train our kids. Because it’s hard to teach gooder if half your mind is focused on food stamps and rent and the other half is focused on inadequate school supplies and heat in the danged classroom.

See? I could pass the WASL because I was able to use two forms of the word "adequate" correctly in the same paragraph. Pretty smart.

Parents are really annoyed with the WASL. They want little Billy to graduate so they can pay some large university to baby sit him for the next four years. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that the baby sitting won’t last very long if Billy can’t read. But if Billy can’t pass the WASL he won’t graduate.
So what have parents done to help the little tyke pass? Sue the state to abolish the test. And little Billy ends up living with them because he can’t find a job. But the parents feel righteous because they voted “NO” on every proposal to improve schools and their little genius has a high school diploma. Bravo.

OK, is there a point here? I don’t know. Oh, yeah, in Civics Class we learned that in order for society to work members have to participate in funding. We call it taxes. Sure, it can be annoying but so is the dentist. If you never go to the dentist you may not be able to chew your food at some point. And if you don’t pay taxes you don’t get roads, schools, police, and congress.

And that’s about where it all starts to fall apart. If I could draw of picture of how this really works I’d be a famous artist because it’s very abstract and four dimensional. So to keep my head from exploding I need focus on plans for a rapid transit station on the shimmering shores of Lake Boren.

My waffle question to you is: If a train leaves Boston going west at 24 mph toward Cincinnati and another train leaves Winnemucca going east at 36 mph toward Cleveland will they ever be in Ohio at the same time? Why? Who wants to go to Ohio? When do we leave?

For extra credit: What if a train left Seattle at 72 mph headed for Oklahoma City with the Sonics’ basketball team? Well what about it?!? Would it pass through Ohio? Could we catch it and make them come back? Film at 11. Oh, and show your work.


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