Sunday, May 15, 2005

More On SAT Writing Tests

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It seems that Culture of Life News isn't the only ones desiring more writing in schools. In the NYT Op Ed section is a piece by a businessman, Brent Staples. He is a regular editor to the NYT so we do wonder after reading him, why doesn't he do the editorials instead of say, Brooks, who is totally insane or Teirney who is downright evil. Why is the NYT hiding this writer under a basket? I can't say.
Companies once covered for poor writers by surrounding them with people who could translate their thoughts onto paper. But this strategy has proved less practical in the bottom-line-driven information age, which requires more high-quality writing from more categories of employees than ever before. Instead of covering for nonwriters, companies are increasingly looking for ways to screen them out at the door.

This was clearly the subtext message of a report released last year by the National Commission on Writing, a panel of educators convened by the College Board. At the heart of the report - titled "Writing: A Ticket to Work ... or a Ticket Out" - is an eye-opening assessment of corporate attitudes about writing, surveying members of the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executives from the nation's leading corporations.

The findings, though given a positive gloss, were not encouraging. About a third of the companies reported that only one-third or fewer of their employees knew how to write clearly and concisely. The companies expressed a fair degree of dissatisfaction with the writing produced by recent college graduates - even though many were blue-chip companies that get the pick of the litter.

I would venture to say one third of the writers on the NYT editorial page can't write clearly or concisely. Certainly, pointing out irrelevant obvious things while ignoring important things takes a dubious skill, but the childish level of some of the NYT editorial sections leaves us scratching our heads. Forget businessmen being annoyed, we are annoyed! This bothers us even more. We remember the good old days when everyone had secretaries and since women were not allowed above that position no matter how talented or educated, the men had the women do virtually all the writing. "Blah blah blah," the man would say and then the secretary would write a normal letter with the appropriate whatevers and insert the blah blah blah in the proper place with the proper spelling. Few businessmen wrote even memos.

Having worked in corporate America back in the Dark Ages, I assure you the boss, when he wanted to dash off a memo, called in the secretary. Now, the owners want even the upper management to be able to write memos. Even then, the bosses try to fob it off to others who are not trained to do this thus the annoying office chaos. So they want this fixed and fixed, now.

Hiring secretaries and paying them isn't an option. Heh.

So they want the schools to teach writing. We are happy about this. Literacy is a good thing, all around. The more, the better, we say. But then, Donald Trump will have to learn to write his own "you are fired" red slips, won't he?
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