Silent no more

Dear sir:
Many items in the news in the past several years have prompted me to mumble to myself or to blurt out loud that I am going to write a letter to the editor.
Well, something has finally spurred me to action. I have been silent too long.
Actually, that statement is an outright lie. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am silent about very little that really bothers me. The Ontario education system did the trick.
I am glad I contained myself until the grade three and six testing results from the Catholic board were published because now I can direct my comments at the system, and not just one school board or one group of teachers and administrators.
Throw all of the test scores into a hat and describe them. One word comes to mind—deplorable! In new English, they suck!
Recalling the test scores from the public board, the marks ranged from 41 percent pass in the worst subject to a high of 59 percent pass in the best subject. Without the aid of a calculator, this relates to the fact that 41 percent of the students in that latter category failed every subject they were tested in.
The latest published scores for grade three gives a 48 percent total failure rate, and a 55 percent total failure rate for grade six.
Last year in the “just for fun” grade 10 practice literacy test, if I recall correctly, about 60 percent of those who took it failed. I got this information at a meeting I attended at Fort High in September. The meeting was called for all grade 10 students and their parents addressing the upcoming test that if the students did not pass, they would not graduate high school.
Those of us in attendance were informed the students would be (coached) on the fine points of passing such a test. My thoughts were, and I kept them to myself, if you had taught my son how to read, write, and do math at a grade 10 level, he would probably pass this test all by himself.
I applaud the fact that if my son can neither write, read, nor do math at the end of 12 or more years in school, he should not be sent on to college, university, or to an employer, where it soon will be apparent our education system has failed him.
Put the same philosophy back to the grade three test results. Pass the test or no advancement. The same would hold for grade six, except the scores would show that the students in grade six knew how to write, read, and do math at a grade six level.
If students at any level don’t know the basics for that level, there is no hope they can learn something new.
I beseech the education system of Ontario to teach the students in their care the basics of any knowledge—writing, reading, and math. Without this, they are lost.
The test results are proof of the enormity of the problem. But the solution is not unattainable.
Ken Perry
Fort Frances, Ont.