Friday, November 30, 2007

School funding cuts: Grammar

Well, this is the saddest consequence of school funding cuts I've heard of yet:
Underfunded Schools Forced To Cut Past Tense From Language Programs
OK, it's the Onion, but it's a nice piece. Verbally and TMAally speaking, I think: You can't cut that ... cut the future, or the subjunctive. We don't really need the third-person singular -s at all. But don't cut the past — the present/past distinction is the historical core of Germanic verb morphology.

The reaction from educators:
"This is the end of an era," said Alicia Reynolds, a school district director in Tuscaloosa, AL. "For some of us, reading and writing about things not immediately taking place was almost as much a part of school as history class and social studies.""That is, until we were forced to drop history class and social studies a couple of months ago," Reynolds added.
The reaction from the right:
Utah's Sen. Orrin Hatch … welcomed the cuts as proof that the American school system is taking a more forward-thinking approach to education and the dimension of time. "Our tax dollars should be spent preparing our children for the future, not for what has already happened," Hatch said at a recent press conference. "It's about time we stopped wasting everyone's time with who 'did' what or 'went' where. The past tense is, by definition, outdated." Said Hatch, "I can't even remember the last time I had to use it."
The reaction from the righter:
Some legislators are even calling for an end to teaching grammar itself, saying that in many inner-city school districts, where funding is most lacking, students rarely use grammar at all.
The Onion is smart enough that I want to figure that's a clear joke, something we can laugh at, but what they're poking fun at is so pervasive that I just can't.

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