Ahmed hasn’t been paying attention.

Like this is news. Well, the reporter appears to be from Canada, so maybe he was unaware of how bad American education has gotten.

Oregon Governor signs new law allowing students to graduate without proving they can read, write, or do math
An Oregon high school diploma does not guarantee that students who earned it can read, write or do math at a high school level.

Governor Kate Brown dropped the requirement that students demonstrate they have achieved those essential skills by signing Senate Bill 744 into law. She declined again Friday to comment on why she supported suspending the proficiency requirements, reported OregonLive.

It’s been a long time since a diploma meant a damned thing. I recall how shocked I was when I first encountered a basic reading and math test when a applying for factory job back in the early ’90s.

And shocked more when I turned the test in. The clerk wondered what was wrong; did I need help? No, I’m done. Done? Yeah, I finished. Already?

They she graded it and called the HR person. They tried to keep their voices down, but my ears weren’t shot back then.

What’s wrong?

He finished it.


He finished already. And he got all the answers right.

Are you sure?

I checked twice.

That was a ten question multiple guess test of reading, addition, sutraction, and reading a ruler (seriously; pictures of a ruler with a arrow indicating a hash mark, tell ’em what length was indicated). Apparently no one had ever aced it, much less in under ten minutes. It took that long because it was so stupidly simple I was double-checking for some kind of trick.

Things only got worse over the years. Usually I worked in telecommunications; the factory job was a short term fluke. A technical test — whether written or verbal — was normal. But these were jobs requiring experience, so they figured applicants could at least read; they just wanted to check that knowledge of the field matched experience claimed.

But by 2008, when I got hired for a network operations job, they scheduled me for a day of testing.

But it wasn’t tech, to my surprise. Reading. Math (this one included multiplication and division, but not algebra). Following instructions and reasoning. Zero about telecom or electronics.

Finished, turned it in. It took maybe 45 minutes, but it was a lengthy test. And as I was leaving one other guy turned his in. Everyone else in the room was still working.

On my drive home I got a call from the test admin. She thought I’d like to know that I’d passed.

My response was a politely phrased, “Well, duh.”

Diplomas mean jack, and employers have known that for decades.

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2A advocate, writer, firearms policy & law analyst, general observer of pre-apocalyptic American life.

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