Students are doing well in school

Editor, The Record:

Re: Too many people’s heads buried in reality TV, Oct. 19 edition.

In a letter ostensibly about Wal-Mart, Robert T. Rock ambles off into what he sees as a related category: education, a subject he proves himself singularly incapable of approaching fairly or rationally.

Today’s students — the ones Mr. Rock seems to be referring to in his letter as poorly educated — are all expected to graduate from Grade 12. We are, therefore, teaching every single student until graduation, not as in, say 1934 or 1954, when just the few talented or motivated students chose to stick around for an education.

So, yes, today we have the inevitable challenges associated with the mandate to “educate everyone,” such as teaching to 10 different ability levels in one math class, or “teaching” students whose parents can’t seem to get them to school on time, or at all. Yet, today’s Canadian students still have the highest literacy rates in the world, thanks to their teachers and parents.

As well, according to all recent studies, including OECD PISA results (the gold-standard of world education system comparisons), Canada, and especially B.C., ranks between third and fifth in all skill areas, including math and science, and especially literacy. Just as a comparison, the U.S., not surprisingly, is down near 17 or 20, while only Finland and Korea rank slightly higher than Canada.

So, while I still agree with Mr. Rock’s views on Wal-Mart, I am shocked and disappointed with his statement that I — a teacher — “pretend to teach” and my students “pretend to learn.”

Maybe the young student who graduated in June, and is now studying at Bryn Mawr, was under the influence of some sort of magical substance when she emailed me last week to say how much she appreciated that I had taught her essay writing skills that have made her life as a university student so much better? Is she “pretending?”

Or, my current students who are designing, of their own volition, a campaign of action against Wal-Mart and other corporations who abuse their labour forces here and abroad: are they just “pretending”? I could regale you with many more examples, but I think I have made my point: today’s students are doing fine.

I have supported my assertions, Mr. Rock, with both statistical and anecdotal evidence; you have done nothing but assert your narrow-minded opinions. As I said, I am with you in your stance on Wal-Mart; however, when you start indulging your unfortunate penchant for mean-spirited vitriol, I sincerely wish you would “beam [yourself] out of here,” because you are adding nothing to any debate: you are merely a garden variety gadfly.

Steve Moore

Mission