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.