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Picture: TheSwash minus comments 

I was dropping in yesterday on that excellent blog site “The Swash” when I happ’t upon his article regarding the teachers and other public workers protests in Wisconsin.  The Swash had let rip, as only the Swash does, with an acid sharp post about the use of illiterate posters by the teachers outside the Capitol.  Witty, sour, abrasive and always well written and worth reading, Rob Rimes was giving these guys it tight.  It’s worth a read – just hit the link or go through the blogroll entry at the side of this post.

But, I thought this is too much.  Surely he is having a joke – for the Swash can be very funny too.  He is taking the mick I thought.  Surely teachers on public demonstrations do not allow themselves to be open to such ridicule that would undermine their very raison d’être, that children require education (and public teachers) to fulfil their lives, to take a full and active part in society and achieve their personal goals.  The picture had to be a fake.  The article must be a spoof.

So I did a trawl through the web. Oh dear oh dear.  It’s right enough.  A number of photos are doing the rounds.  It wasn’t even just a single sole entry.  You can find them at thesniper, rawstory, republicanoperative.

This one from commonamericanjournal

It makes me very angry.  It is appalling that governments seek to take away the rights of workers to the use of collective bargaining to make the negotiations a fairer, flatter playing field.  But for those same unions to allow illiterate posters to be used is beyond me.  Who was organising it?  Don’t they check for this sort of thing?  Especially when we all had quite so much fun at the expense of the Tea Party for their illiterate ignorant placards.

So does this illiterate poster reveal anything about education in Wisconsin in general?  Unfortunately I fear it may.  The US Department of Education in their 2009 (latest year available) assessment of Educational Progress noted that one in eight eighth graders cannot read properly.  Yes that is 1 in 8.  Two thirds cannot read proficiently, despite Wisconsin having been allocated the highest per capita spend in the mid west.  32% are proficient, 66% read below the correct level with 44% of these being rated “basic” and 22% below even that. If the teachers cannot get it right what hope do the children have?

Mark Twain said it best when he remarked “Don’t let school get in the way of your education”.  Wisconsin seems to be taking that one right to heart.

Copyright David Macadam 2011     

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