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'Schools Miss Point: Education'

October 11, 1987

Retired English professor Joseph N. Bell from UC Irvine offered his opinion on Sept. 27. Prof. Bell indicated that he would probably be teaching remedial English to a fair number of "ace" students if he had not retired from the classroom. He then told of an Irvine student who was enrolled in his English class during her senior year in high school.

While Prof. Bell agreed that high school teachers have too many students, too many classes, and too many papers to grade, he also indicated Irvine was "training" rather than "educating" students. He said: "I've been increasingly getting students at UCI who don't know basic grammar, are hard-pressed to write a single clear expository sentence, and tend to think in global generalities rather than tough specifics."

In response to Prof. Bell, I decided to use tough specifics from "First Year Performance of Freshmen Entering the University of California, Fall of 1985," rather than talk in global generalities. According to the report, 23 University High School graduates enrolled at UCI in the fall of 1985. The report revealed that University High School graduates exceeded the UCI freshman class in meeting the Subject A requirement, the Scholastic Aptitude Test verbal and math scores, the English composition test, the UCI freshman grade point average, and scored .37 points higher in their UCI classes. UHS graduates earned 10 A's, 19 Bs, and 13 Cs in UCI English classes. No UHS students earned Ds or Fs.

If Irvine students lacked knowledge of grammar, were hard-pressed to write a clear expository sentence, they either overcame their shortcomings or had professors who did not consider grammar, clear sentences, or tough specifics in their grading.

If Prof. Bell is truly interested in raising the level of education in California public schools, his time would be better spent repealing the Gann limit, convincing Californians to return their tax rebates to their local schools, and persuading the governor not to blue pencil K-12 funding. Complaints about school administrators undercutting teachers only add to the public's distrust of educators and give politicians reason to slash educational funds.

I invite Prof. Bell to visit English classes on the University High School campus. Even with increasingly inadequate resources, we deliver an education, not training.



University High School


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