Tuesday, December 16, 2008

KERA - Educational Bomb

Brian Crabtree, age 18, allegedly brutally raped and killed two-year-old Katelynn Stinnett, as reported recently in the Lexington Herald-Leader. That this unseemly, monstrous thing happened is not surprising since the papers are full on practically a daily basis of similar occurrences perpetrated by "significant others," whether shack-up boyfriends or stepfathers or druggies. In many if not most cases, the mother is an accomplice, whether as a passive enabler or as an active participant in the crime.

The Crabtree alleged murder/molestation is different in that Crabtree was "babysitting" his male friend's children, but the result, sadly, was the same. The child's parents had divorced and apparently the bulk of responsibility for the two children involved belonged to the father. This is unusual, but in the current social stance of the country, the unusual is becoming more and more the usual, with the children, the most vulnerable, taking the suffering, bearing the atrocious consequences.

The shocker with respect to Crabtree was noted by his public defender, to wit, that Crabtree had an IQ of 68. This is from Psychologie online: "An easy way to interpret an IQ is to use the following rules: A score that is no more than one standard deviation (=15) away from 100, can be interpreted as a normal score. A score that is between one and two standard deviations away from 100 can be interpreted as low (70-85) or high (115-130). A score that is more than two standard deviations away from 100 can be interpreted as very low (lower than 70) or very high (higher than 130)."

Crabtree has an IQ defined as "very low." What this, if anything, has to do with his crime is yet to be seen. Even more shocking, according to the public defender, is the fact that Crabtree can neither read nor write. Even more shocking than that is the fact that Crabtree graduated from Bourbon County High School last May, apparently right on time for his age. How does a student who can neither read nor write graduate from the eighth-grade, much less from the twelfth? If this is true, what should one suppose about the education system in Bourbon County?

In 1990, the legislature passed the infamous Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA), which included in its provisions the highest tax increase in the state's history, a huge portion of it just pork. The end-all and be-all of this Act, inculcating the concept titled "Outcomes Based Education" and much if not most of which has either been legislatively dismantled or simply ignored or both, was self-esteem. Under this pedagogy, it was okay for the student to calculate that 2+2 equaled 5 as long as the student felt okay.

One can't know about Crabtree's innate cognitive ability, but one thing is sure, namely, that Crabtree entered school around 1996 and spent his entire school experience within the parameters of KERA. Result: inability even to read or write at age 18 (at least functionally illiterate), ergo, the inability to do anything requiring those skills, which is almost anything. Indeed, Kentucky's schools are probably worse now than they were in 1990, but much of KERA remains...more's the pity.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

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