No Child Left Behind?

Sure, they can pass tests. But can they tell time?

I had a heavy shock today in the Safeway Supermarket in Wickenburg, AZ when I witnessed the following exchange between a cashier/manager and the teenage clerk who was bagging groceries at her register.

Girl: Do I get a break today?

Cashier (after studying a break sheet): Yes. You have lunch at 3 o’clock.

Girl: What time is it now?

Cashier (pointing to the clock on the wall): Look at the clock.

Girl (laughing): I can’t tell time on that.

I looked at the clock. It was a typical wall clock — you know, the round kind with two hands and a bunch of numbers. It read 1:35 PM.

Me (to the girl): You can’t tell time on a regular clock?

Girl (still laughing): No.

Teenage Guy behind me on line: I can’t either.

Me (to the girl): And you think that’s funny? What school did you go to?

Girl (still laughing but now moved to the end of the next register; I think I was scaring her): Wickenburg.

We’ll cut the conversation here, mostly because I became outraged and had to be calmed by the cashier, who is about my age. I reminded her that I learned how to tell time when I was 5 and I’m sure she was about the same age.

The point of all this is the fact that today’s kids apparently lack basic skills that they need to get by in life. How can an 18-year-old girl not know how to tell time on a standard analog clock? What else does she not know how to do? Read? Write in full sentences? Spell the words that might appear on a job application?

How the hell does she expect to get anywhere in life? Or is her highest aspiration to be a bagger in a grocery store? No offense to folks with challenged kids, but mentally retarded people can do that.

Yet apparently, this kid can pass the tests she needs to graduate high school.

No child left behind? Sure.

4 thoughts on “No Child Left Behind?

  1. It’s amazing, and not just in Wickenburg. Back east we hired innumerable part-time young folks who proved unable to make change, and did not know units of measure, or how to read a ruler. It was frightening to have to explain to a high school student what a “dozen”, or a “ton” is. Further proof, also, that more spending on education is not the answer, as that state had one of, if not the highest per-student tuition rates in the nation. Paying six times the taxes had no demonstrable benefit.

  2. Where as I feel the school system is part to blame, how is it that the parents didn’t teach the kids before they even started school. Both my parents are high school drop outs, yet, all three of their children knew how to tie shoes, tell time on a clock, spell our names (first and last), we even knew our addresses and phone numbers. After we started school, during the summer break, our mother bough those learning assignment books, and gave us assignments associated with the grade we were about to go into. In addition, our mother had flash card that she used, at least with me since I was the worse student out of the three and needed it the most.

    I am very much against blaming parents for any of our short commings. But let’s face it, the parents must have known that their kid couldn’t tell the time. In 18 years didn’t it ever occur to them to take 5 minutes out of their day to teach the kid?

    Maybe int he 60’s and 70’s when I was a kid things were different. I couldn’t wait to go to school. To this day, I remind my mother how much I wanted to go to nursery school, and she didn’t let me go and I’m in my forties now (by the way, Mom couldn’t do it due to financial reason and yes Maria, it’s me). Back them we wanted to learn.

    Ouch, this is our future, and this is also very scary stuff.

  3. I remember a Golden Book we had at home called Tommy Too Late, which had a clock with moveable hands on the cover. That is how I learned to tell time, when I was 4 or 5.

    My personal pet peeve is folks who cannot make change without looking at the digital read-out on the register. These are the folks who are terminally flummoxed when you hand them two pennies with your payment when the total is $8.77.

    I think I am getting crotchedy in my fifties.

What do you think?