Monday, February 15, 2010

What did you learn in fourth grade?

HAVE YOU HEARD about the controversy in cash-strapped Utah over a proposal to shrink the number of grades in the school year? Faced with solving a $700 million budget gap, a Republican state senator, Chris Buttars, wants to eliminate 12th grade. He says it could save the state about $60 million. Although that would still leave a deficit of $640 million, there would be 11 other grades that would be available if the lawmakers can't come up with the money elsewhere.

Although I seldom agree with dippy proposals from the Republican Right, I think Buttars, in his own strange way, may be on to something by making education the scapegoat of budgetary problems. But I wouldn't begin with cutting out the 12th grade. By that time high school athletes are well on their way to considering a letter of intent for Ohio State or Texas, and
the parents of others have already taken out a second mortgage on their house to pay for their kids' college education. No, the absence of 12th grade would be too disruptive in so many ways.

I will probably get an argument over this, but I would eliminate fourth grade instead. By then, a student would have been introduced to the rudiments of the 3 R's that could be repeated with a refresher course in 5th grade. Fourth graders are too young to engage in blood sports and too small to lug around a tuba in the school band. There is, in fact, very little for any student to do except to wait around for 5th grade. In my case, it gave my father more time to talk me out of going to college as the alternative to selling used cars.

You may have other ideas, but let me ask you this: How many of you remember a damn thing that you learned in fourth grade? See, what did I tell you?

Will you at least give my suggestion some thought and get back to me? UTAH IS WAITING.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you ever heard of the TV program "Are You Smarter than A Fifth Grader"--the questions I have seen from first to fifth make you think--and many times you can't come up with the right answer. So your idea has some merit,although skipping a grade might leave them a little short of what-ever-it is they teach in fourth grade.