Brickbat: School Daze


Online classes
Dmytro Zinkevych /

In Bessemer, Alabama, a dozen students who thought they would be starting high school this month were instead told they need to finish eighth grade. All of the students had failed a grade in the past. They'd been in seventh grade last school year and were allowed by their principal to enroll on an online program to earn eighth-grade credits, too, so they could go straight to high school after finishing seventh grade. But the school system did not have a license to use that program and the coursework taken by the students couldn't be verified.

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  1. This past year, they were in the seventh grade but were allowed to enroll in an online school program called Plato to earn eighth-grade credits too, so they could go from seventh grade straight into high school.

    Sorry, kids, but the Russians aren’t going to hack your way into a position you didn’t merit. Not on my watch.

  2. Because knowing the subject matter content isn’t important. All that matters is that the correct beurocrat checked the right box that says you know it, whether you do or not.

    It’s not an education system, it’s a credential generating system.

    1. Because knowing the subject matter content isn’t important. All that matters is that the correct beurocrat checked the right box that says you know it, whether you do or not.

      Well, they certainly apply this principle in the other direction often enough. Which is why there are “colleges” and “universities” offering classwork at the elementary school level.

      In fact, given what the high schools are graduating as “ready for college”, it makes me wonder what the hell the kids in the story did to manage getting failed a grade.

      Remedial College Classes

      (BTW: That blog is entertainingly written, and explores basically everything that is wrong with the higher education system in this country from a libertarian perspective. I recommend it.)

      1. Another article along the same lines.

  3. The real lede, buried as usual:

    All of the students had failed a grade in the past.

    The linked article elaborates. This online summer program was apparently being offered so that students who were left back multiple grades (and two cheers for the district for the will to do so in the first place) would have the chance to work hard and skip grades and, over a period of time, return to their age cohort in time to graduate high school…

    1. …The real question is, why was this program only being offered to the remedials? Why not the smart kids? Why shouldn’t anyone who wants to skip a grade be allowed to do so on the same terms? Given what we know kids are capable of learning at certain ages, versus what they actually are taught at a given grade level in the typical public school, I’ll bet that the top third of kids in the typical district have the aptitude to pass through such a grade-skipping program at least once. The kids would benefit–both from the challenging curriculum and the chance to get the fuck out of school early–and the community would certainly benefit. I don’t know how the occasional early graduate is handled these days; but if it became a mass phenomenon districts could cut checks to the local community college, or to other institutions up to their mean student expenditure. Certainly a better investment than funding the kid to sit back in H.S., stoned just to survive the boredom, and listen to some lecture pitched at the slowest kids in the class. Why do we cling to this weird rigid age-cohort model of lower education?

      1. I think the real question is why we still have traditional schools if kids that spent 9 months in a classroom with a teacher failed to learn what they’re capable of learning in a couple of months online. It suggests a traditional 12-grades education can be gotten online in just a couple of years.

        1. This is essentially along the line of what I was saying, although yes you cut to the heart of the issue very succinctly. I suppose the right way to put it is, the obvious truth of your observation is what underlies the viability of my suggestion. I was proposing a way that the current school system might commit themselves to partially accommodating the fact that “skipping a grade,” while currently and absurdly associated with being a super boy genius of some sort, is actually something that damn near every kid is capable of. They might thereby hope to rescue some semblance of relevance and responsiveness to increasingly skeptical cohorts of youth as the boom in self-directed educational resources continues to expose the true nature of formal education–lower and higher–for all to see.

          1. In the concrete circumstances of a traditional school district, they probably have to worry about the various mandates they’re under that restrict their ability to be creative.

          2. My 9th grader has no problem aceing the GED test, while the 8th grader makes a passing grade. The only reason they are attending high school is to accumulate college credits, maturity, and sweet, sweet scholarship money.

            1. Do you think kids in their shoes can accumulate more scholarship money doing makework assigned by high school teachers than they could doing useful work for the same number of hours assigned by an employer who has useful work for them to do?

  4. For some reason, “Alabama” had me thinking not about Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home,” nor about the excellent Alabama of ’80s “Dixieland Delight” fame, but about that Hot Shit. If this had been the type of grammar taught in school perhaps the kids would have paid attention in the first place!

    1. Apparently there are lengthy discussions about the True Meaning of Sweet Home Alabama. Who knows what the true meaning was, what with all the pot-laced moonshine they were probably drinking when they wrote it?

      (Note to their lawyers: That was a little joke)

      1. Sounds like a poor attempt at cultural appropriation.
        We never mix the pot and moonshine. We smoke one and drink the other. To mix them is an insult to the corn crop and the marijuana crop.
        (Note to their lawyers; sue the bastard)

      2. reply down below; Rufus-style thread fail

  5. The kids learned a much more important lesson. FYTW.

  6. Follow the money. I suspect this has less to do with ‘being fair’, or with the kids at all, but has to do with getting/retaining federal funds.
    After all, these kids (and most of the others) are just muddling through, following guidance counselors who only know political correctness, not careers, and are ALL told that they HAVE to go to college to get ahead. And in college, they will have to PAY FOR and take seventh and eighth grade courses for a year or two until they are ready for full indoctrination in progressive thought. Then they will be graduated into a work world they are unprepared for (except as democratic party interns).
    All the while, there are 50,000 truck driving positions open, not to mention the building trades.

    1. All the while, there are 50,000 truck driving positions open, not to mention the building trades.

      Yeah… but having a CDL means opening up your asshole to all sorts of government inspections. I mean, I presume that’s not why most of these kids choose to not get one in favor of college (probably more along the lines of ‘trucker’ being low status) but I can certainly understand not wanting to go that route.

      1. Personally I suspect the current payment ‘by the mile’ is the big drawback. Most folks I know, and all the younger ones can’t get past “how much per hour”? Sooner or later, that will have to change, teamsters not withstanding.
        Most of the government grief goes at the owner operators, not hired drivers. Employee type drivers just have to keep an electronic log of hours & miles, submit random drug tests, roadside searches and the like. Same stuff as any other driver on the road.

  7. Like every other American I can’t get enough Skynyrd, so you have definitely piqued my curiosity. Link to some of these lengthy discussions?

    I’m under the impression that “SHA”‘s back history is actually fairly well documented as far as songs go. This band of city kids who were from nowhere near the panhandle decides to write and record a song that’s a reply to Neil Young’s “Southern Man,” which they were fans of. And that was that. It’s a sort of artistic project you set up for yourself: “Hey, let’s make a reply to ‘Southern Man,'” period. Not, “Fuck that uppity Yankee Neil Young; how dare he insult the South!” Just like maybe today if I’m a rapper and I hear an MC who I’m a fan of drop a cool song boasting about how his city is better than New York, I say, ooh that is hot, maybe I can rise to the occasion and put together New York’s reply! For that matter no different from the sort of staged “feuds”–if the more gullible members of the public take them too seriously then so much the better for sales–that all sorts of artists have been engaging in.

    Skynyrd were a bunch of liberal Southerners, complete with long “hippie” hair back when you got a shit-ton of shit for that. They had their share of actual politically charged songs–“Saturday Night Special” and the like–but this one, while admirably subtle, doesn’t really have much of an agenda one way or the other.

    1. *that all sorts of artists have long been engaging in

  8. If you let kids skip grades, you might not need as many teachers as are currently employed. I think the problem here is clear enough.

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  10. It’s horrible to realize that still, such accidents happen. It’s so unpleasant and unfair to study and have some hopes and dream and later find out that you are expelled. I bet that with primeessays it would have never happened, although for some reasons students are afraid to ask for help with their papers even if they desperately need it.

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