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Monday, April 16, 2007

THE ISSUE: Literacy problems WE SAY: Can be overcome

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Kids should learn to read good.

I am still pretty upset and wasn't planning to blog tonight until I opened Name of Newspaper Withheld. Someone has to stop them. This is just too much.

I swear that this is 100% real. My analysis is in bolded text.

Read on Fort Res

Oh. My. Gawd. This is the honest-to-goodness title of the editorial about how important literacy is. Do they really want me to read on top of Fort Res? Or did they, I dunno, FORGET A COMMA??? And in case you were wondering, the title of this post is the little nugget of wisdom beneath the title.

Literacy program success should be modeled around the territories

Headlinese exists only in the newspaper world. It's a way of saying something in as few letters as possible, and it should only be used when there's no other choice. In this case, it would be better to say "Successful literacy program should be a model for the territories". My re-write is even shorter and (who woulda thunk?) makes more sense.

Reading is an important part of anyone's life. Poor reading and comprehension skills have serious affects on a person's ability to function in society. Career, schooling, entertainment, going for groceries, even reading this editorial can become a frustrating chore if literacy skills have not been properly developed.


And here's something you might not have known about parallel construction: It only works if everything in the list is in the same form and actually makes sense with the rest of the sentence. Answer me this: is "Career can become a frustrating chore if literacy skills have not been properly developed" a sentence? Actually, don't answer that. I don't think I want to know what you would say.

I'd agree that reading this editorial is a frustrating chore, but not for the reasons you've mentioned.

As of 2005, according to the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey, 40 per cent of Canadians struggle with low literacy. Of those statistics, 15 per cent have difficulty dealing with any written material.

15 per cent of which statistics? Or do you actually mean that 15 per cent of the 40 per cent have difficulty? I'm guessing that this made your head spin, and you probably didn't use that calculator feature on your computer to figure out that this means that 6 per cent of Canadians have difficulty dealing with any written material. I wonder how many of the 6 per cent work for Name of Paper Withheld.

That same survey revealed that 69 per cent of aboriginal people in the NWT have what are considered lower than average English or French literacy skills.

I'm frothing at the mouth, but I will pay you a compliment (not a complement): Thanks for remembering that CP style is "per cent", not "percent". You might want to think about looking up the correct way to spell "lower-than-average" when used as a modifier, though.

This is why a program, which has been offered at Deninu school in Fort Resolution, should be encouraged, supported and perhaps modeled elsewhere in the territory.

Nice try with the first two commas, but please read that sentence again. You don't actually need them in this situation. And when I say that you don't actually need them, I mean that you shouldn't use them. Please fix that while I'm still asking nicely.

For the past three years, 'Balanced Literacy' has helped increase literacy skills for students.

That would be "students' literacy skills".

According to principal Moh Odeen, students meeting Alberta literacy achievement testing standards in Fort Resolution rose from a dismal 40 per cent in 2004 to an impressive 80 per cent in 2006.

I think you mean "the percentage of Fort Resolution students who met Alberta's literacy standards rose from a dismal 40 per cent in 2004 to an impressive 80 per cent in 2006." And while we're on the topic, it's nice to know that you think 40 per cent is a dismal grade. So far, every single one of your paragraphs has had a serious error. I think that's pretty dismal, especially considering the topic.

It's even more remarkable considering the international literacy survey gave Alberta one of the highest scores among all provinces.

Considering THAT, Name of Newspaper Withheld. Considering THAT. I'm eying that "among" but I'll let it go.

The Deninu school program began with students between Grade 1 and 3 and was extended this year to Grade 4 to 6 students.

Here's an exciting lesson about pluralizing words: Just add an "s" and you're ready to go! The program began with students in GRADES one to three. Not grade.

One student in Grade 4 is reportedly reading at a Grade 6 level and other students in the primary grades are devouring words, reading more than 100 books a year. That is a stark contrast to an atmosphere where interest in reading and books was previously weak.

No, it's IN stark contrast. And remember that saying about apples and oranges? You can compare atmospheres, or you can compare anecdotes. You can't compare anecdotes to atmospheres.

Other schools in the NWT should learn from Deninu school's example and model the Balanced Literacy program.

A few newspapers could learn from the school's example, too.

Increasing rates of literacy will have life long benefits for students in the NWT. Improved reading and comprehension will make it easier to enter, and be successful, in a post secondary education program, hold down a job, and conduct tasks common in everyday life.

Life-long! Not life long! And please, please, please learn how to use parallel construction before you attempt it in print. You might want to check your comma placement while you're at it.

Studies have shown that children with low literacy skills also have more behavioural problems. Teaching children to read better and achieve at a higher level will mean fewer instances of violence, abuse and acting out in NWT schools.

Everyone wins when a child learns to read.

I'm not sure that you're right. I can read pretty well, but I'm feeling more violent all the time.


Cindy said...

Darling, I miss you. Come back! I haven't laughed that long or loudly in weeks.

I say it again: you are missing your calling. You should be the chief copy editor for a very big, very famous newspaper. You are depriving the masses of good grammar, spelling and punctuation!


Anonymous said...

With Cindy's comment, I think you could start your own column where you focus on a specific event in grammar history and slam it to the ground. Of course, until 2008 you likely would be able to fill each edition with quotes from our dear President George W. Bush.

Anonymous said...

Hear!Hear! One of us needs to smuggle her writing to a high-brow newsletter that would appreciate and put to good use her amazing talents.
Auntie - who is still nervous about using hyphens or not using commas in the right place.

Glen said...

Ah, name of paper withheld, how I have missed you so. I look forward to my twice weekly dose of bad grammar, uninformed opinions and sloppy reporting.