Literary 'rules of road'
Regarding "Grim FCAT scores are blamed on state" (front page, May 20): I am somewhat confused about Tribune reporter Rob Shaw's article. If in the past test-scorers did not "give much of a hoot if students weren't too sharp on capitalization, punctuation, spelling or grammar," pray tell just exactly what was considered important? How much truly original, creative and insightful writing was not recognized because the student was so lacking in these basic skills that what they wrote was nothing more than gibberish?
Students must learn these tiresome rules of capitalization, punctuation, spelling or grammar so that their ideas can be properly communicated to others. To not teach these skills is doing nothing more than permanently handicapping these students from being able to successfully perform one of the greatest skills given to the human mind — the ability to clearly communicate ideas and facts to present and future generations. Humanity and civilization have grown from the transfer of knowledge, made possible by these literary "rules of the road" that allow all to be able to understand each other.
Teachers' hands tied
Let's get real. Could the failure of our students to score passing grades on the FCAT writing test have anything to do with the curriculum?
I was an elementary teacher for 38 years and witnessed the progressive decline of my fourth-graders' mastery of grammar and spelling. Teachers were told that punctuation, capitalization and spelling must be taught only through literature, reading and on-on-one writing conferences. All English and spelling books (handwriting, too) were physically removed from the classroom.
Call me old-fashioned; I call it hogwash.
If this new approach worked, you would not be seeing the scores associated with this year's Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. If these skills had been taught, appropriate spelling, capitalization and punctuation would be a natural element of written communication.
No one can expect a student to learn and retain these skills without formal instruction and practice. Students have been deprived of this instruction, and now state Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson stated that some things "slipped through" the Department of Education!
Teachers' hands have been tied, and the powers that be have been successful in the dumbing down of our most precious commodity — our children.
Regarding the death of the Lockerbie bomber:
At last. Good riddance.