Time for a little readin’  ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmetic.

The Wall Street Journal reported last year that 15-year old U.S. high-school students “made no progress on recent international achievement exams and fell further in the rankings, reviving a debate about America’s ability to compete in a global economy.” Results of the survey can be found at

Classroom ChalkboardOur teens slipped from 25th to 31st in math in just three years, from 20th to 24th in science; and from 11th to 21st in reading.

The U.S. used to turn out the best students. Then we grew complacent. Then political correctness and inertia overcame the search for knowledge and growth.

Back when I was in high school (heh), we learned readin’,  ‘ritin’, ‘rithmetic, and ‘terpretation. Frank Wright (<== his real name) taught us history and social studies, and critical thinking long before “educators” made it a buzz word instead of an orderly process. Mr. Wright wasn’t an “educator”; Mr. Wright was a teacher. Oh, he did worship FDR (making him the most liberal man I had ever met) but he was bright and caring and good at his job. And the only politics that got in the way of teaching us history and life were the ones we freely argued about in the classroom.

Mr. Wright, my parents, and many of our public servants of that time were all life-members of what Tom Brokaw aptly called the “Greatest Generation.” They didn’t just grow up in the Great Depression. They didn’t just win World War II. They didn’t just teach. They learned. The 15-year old U.S. high-school students they once were could read, could write, could do arithmetic, could think critically.

Each succeeding class of 15-year old U.S. high-school students has dropped a little in what they could read, what they could write, what arithmetic they could do, how well they could think critically.

Look where that has brought us.

Today the average 15-year old U.S. high-school student can’t be bothered. That’s not because the average 15-year old U.S. high-school student doesn’t want to be bothered; that’s because our schools aren’t bothering them enough.

Today, our “public servants” (current, past, and would be) are still too busy to fix it. In fact, they are so busy telling you how much you should hate the other guy, they aren’t even telling you how they will pretend to fix it.

I see a tie-in between the failing school results and the failing electoral results.

Here in South Puffin in the vast expanse of Florida sunshine, we’ve learned from Tom Steyer that Gov. Rick Scott is “too shady for the sunshine state.” And the Brothers Koch tell us that former-Gov. Charlie Crist is a “slick politician, lousy governor.”

Up in North Puffin in the People’s Democratic Republic of Vermont, we find (pretty accurate) attack ads against incumbent Sen. Bernie Sanders’ everyday hypocrisy when he isn’t even on the ballot.

Boy, howdy, I feel better informed already.

I know so much bad stuff I don’t have time to worry about life getting better.

My friend Chris Bohjalian wrote yesterday that the dump was once a part of the stump. It’s a good read if your schooling was above average.

Vermonters are not voting for a president or either senator tomorrow, “and the race for our lone congressional representative is not exactly a nail-biter,” he wrote.

Every elective office is important. Even the Mosquito Control Board. And the High Bailiff. The Mosquito Control Board here in the Keys has a $15.51 million budget and a significant air force. The High Bailiff and perhaps only the High Bailiff can arrest the Sheriff.

My rules haven’t changed. If you’re an incumbent, find a new job. If you’re vying and trying and lying for our vote, find a new job. And if your ads even mention the other guy? Find a new job because I ain’t gonna vote for you.

Make tomorrow a nail biter. Don’t send the same Vermonter back to Congress. Don’t send your other scoundrel back to the Senate. Write in someone you know from the dump. He simply can’t do any worse.


4 thoughts on “Schooled

  1. “Make tomorrow a nail biter. Don’t send the same….back to Congress, etc etc etc.

    Well, to we real Americans “tomorrow” has already come because we did the American thing and voted early.

    In that regard, Mrs George and I left everything blank…except that we voted AGAINST a Proposition that promised better roads with no new taxes.

    If I believe that, I would believe that The South Puffin High Bailiff is a Constitutional Mandate.

    — George

    • There is no South Puffin High Bailiff, George, but the North Puffin High Bailiff is indeed a Constitutional Mandate:

      “The Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Treasurer, Secretary of State, Auditor of Accounts, Senators, Town Representatives, Assistant Judges of the County Court, Sheriffs, High Bailiffs, State’s Attorneys, Judges of Probate and Justices of the Peace, shall be elected biennially…”
      –Vermont Constitution

      The duties of the High Bailiff are defined by stature, though, not by the Constitution.
      “Sub-Chapter 6: High Bailiff
      Ҥ 331. Oath; bond
      Ҥ 332. Powers and duties
      Ҥ 333. Confinement of sheriff; vacancy
      “A high bailiff by virtue of a writ or other process directed to him against the sheriff may commit the sheriff to the commissioner of corrections. While the sheriff remains in confinement, or in case of vacancy in the office, the functions of the sheriff shall be exercised by the high bailiff, who shall have the powers and be subject to the liabilities of a sheriff until the sheriff is released from confinement or one is appointed and sworn into office…”

  2. I get North and South Puffin mixed up.

    What threw me was your segue: “Vermonters are not voting for a president or either senator tomorrow, “and the race for our lone congressional representative is not exactly a nail-biter,” he wrote.

    Every elective office is important. Even the Mosquito Control Board. And the High Bailiff….”

    That confused me into thinking that the Mosquito Board and the High Bailiff were in the same Puffin.

    — George

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