Saturday, January 30, 2010


I was brought up not to swear.

My parents grew up in rural and small town Texas Presbyterian homes. I have never heard a swear word pass the lips of either one. We just don't talk that way.

Neither, during the first 40+ years of my life, did I feel the need to break that habit. Most swearing, in my opinion, is just plain lazy. There are far more clever ways to express oneself. I've been doing my best to teach Parker that philosophy as well.

Lately, however, I'm starting to rethink. Clever turns of phrase suddenly seem thin in the face of some of the things people say about kids like Parker's Shamrock classmates.

For example, last week an Observer article noted that Charlotte's high poverty schools are far less likely than wealthier schools to offer extracurricular activities such as chess.

One reader remained unmoved. "Really, do you think a low income, city school is going to have any participation in a chess tournament?" he or she wrote in the Observer's e-forum. "Any kid that participated would be laughed at and shot!"

I know first-hand how much Shamrock's kids love chess, and how long the waiting list for chess club has been. I also know about the excellent competitive teams fielded by several of our high-poverty high schools. There's a word I'd like to use instead of "reader" here. I can say it in my head. But I can't bring myself to say it out loud, or to write it.

Then there's all the other stuff.

After Peter and I identified a glaring error in the research cited by a CMS consultant (see "Battles: Class Size"), the consultant shifted tactics. In a revised report, the assertion that "Research supports" the consultant's recommendations became "There is general consensus in research and reform communities" about those recommendations.

A couple of days later, a reporter asked the consultant for specifics. He replied that "there's not a lot of research that speaks to CMS's situation right now," but that he felt "pretty comfortable" about the recommendations nonetheless (for the full story, see the previous post).

There's a good, two-syllable, Anglo-Saxon word that sums this up with pinpoint exactitude. But I can't say it -- at least not yet. You'll have to do it yourself.

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