Making change at the twilight of the Obama era

I stopped by a particular retail establishment to buy a particular item this week.  I found my item and took it to the first register I saw — which was manned by a young lady probably in high school or not far out of it.

My item rang up as $4.27 (including tax).  I handed her a five dollar bill and two pennies ($5.02).   She processed the sale, and then paused to study the receipt.

She turned to hand me the receipt and some change, while asking: “Um, is this right?”

I have to admit she caught me off-guard.  I glanced at the receipt.  It was correct.  (Of course, the information was compiled via a scan of my item.) 

The change she handed me —  TWO DIMES — was a different story.

I COULD have been dishonest and taken advantage of the situation. “No sweetheart, you owe me TWENTY DOLLARS not TWENTY CENTS.”  But, thankfully, I don’t have a dishonest bone in my body. 

I actually felt bad for the girl.  (On one hand, I did give her some credit for pausing to check the receipt.  She clearly did not have confidence in what she was doing.)  I let her know that she needed to give me the receipt — plus three quarters — so I could go on my way. 

She did just that, and apologized: “I’m sorry. I don’t make change.  This machine normally does it for me.”

I thought about speaking to the management about my experience.  It can’t be good for his or her business to have someone like this handling the money.

But then I asked myself: “How widespread is this problem?”

Public education has long been dominated by the touchy-feely crowd (like many of you saw tearing up Washington DC’s streets this weekend) that places tremendous value on feel-good things like cultural diversity, gender diversity, sexual diversity, and green energy.  While our kids are being bombarded with leftist politics, are they losing out on learning the basics they need to get through life — like counting change from a business transaction? (I think I learned how to count change in my early elementary school years.)

How much trouble are we in if our society has truly reached the stage where the machines will just do it all for us? (Hello, John Connor and Cyberdyne Systems.) 

It’s an absolute travesty that ANYONE can make it to high school — or graduate — without being able to compute a simple transaction like mine at that store the other day.  It actually reminds me of the 7-foot-tall kid a coach for a certain in-state basketball program walked into my community college class one time.  The coach stressed to me how much his program would like to see this large kid do well in class.

I looked the coach in the eye and told him BIG BOY would do well if he: (1) participates, (2) shows up, (3) does his homework, (4) studies, (5) and asks questions.  Just like anyone else. 

Class sessions involved students reading aloud various case studies from the textbook.  I noticed right away that this large kid was struggling to read the words in the textbook.  (He had a diploma from a Charlotte area high school, mind you.)

The writing assignments he turned in were indecipherable and unintelligible.  He began missing classes and not turning in homework assignments.  He left me little choice but to give him a bunch of Fs.  Eventually, he dropped out of my class.

This kid needed some serious help.  He clearly got shuttled through the K-12 system because of his size and basketball talents.  (Afterward, I really studied basketball rosters of area college teams to see where he eventually ended up.)  The sad thing?  Instead of getting the help to him that he needed to function in life — the system was going to squeeze all they could get out of him on the basketball court.

Considering how our public school system is geared toward moving kids down the assembly line and keeping the federal cash spigot flowing, you have to ask: “How many more of these kid are out there?” 

5 thoughts on “Making change at the twilight of the Obama era

  1. So you had experiences with 2 kids, several years apart and now we have an assembly line.

    This kind of stuff happens. Everyone is not given the same capabilities.

    Apparently you weren’t in education very long.

    1. Cute, jughead. I could actually write 50,000 words on the cases / examples I’ve encountered as an educator and as a community leader. And you don’t have to be in education to encounter examples like I did at the store. I’ve heard from business leaders expressing frustration to me and other educators about the serious lack of critical thinking skills in high school and college graduates. I’ve reviewed hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of written assignments that looked like they were written by foreigners for whom English is a second language. (All of the writers were native born Americans.) I’ve heard from friends who are teachers at the K-12 level who tell me horror stories about administrators refusing to allow them to hold back students who are not performing up to snuff.

      Belly-aching about ”not being given the same opportunities” is a joke. Counting your change in a business transaction is a basic, basic task necessary for survival in life. If you don’t understand how to count money, you’re in big trouble. It’s almost as bad as not being able to read your textbook.

      At the level where I teach, I get an up-close look at the failures of the K-12 system. I’ve encountered teenagers, 20-somethings, 30-somethings, 40-somethings, 50-somethings and 60- somethings — ALL with high school diplomas — who struggle with things like: naming the current president, reading a passage from a textbook, doing simple addition and subtraction, or even coherently expressing their thoughts in writing.

      I’ve seen this, and I’ve seen up-close what the Chinese are doing. Their high school graduates are at a level where our best college graduates tend to be.

      There have been published studies showing more than 75% of high school graduates needing some kind of remedial training in math, science, or English.

      As a liberal, you don’t find it disturbing that it’s seen as OK to let a machine do your thinking for you? Doesn’t it bother you that people are getting diplomas they can’t read?

      Throwing more cash at the situation won’t work. Education spending has been ballooning exponentially for decades, and the problem is getting worse.

      (As an aside, I don’t mind keeping a few token liberals around on the site. It keeps things interesting. But throwing shade at me, and others on this site, while hiding behind an alias is unacceptable. If you’re going to come after me, have enough guts to put your real name to your comments. I do it all the time. It feels great. Otherwise, you’re nothing more than a silly troll destined for permanent exile.)

  2. Education needs to teach basics students need to learn. Then have additional instruction for those not achieving basic requirements. Do it as soon as it occurs, even if it more instruction during summer and after school hours.

  3. My niece paid for instruction after school hours for 3 years and her child made great improvement. He graduated from NC State 2 years ago. He was born with a minor birth defect. I suggested he needed extra help in third grade. He is a smart wonderful young man.

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