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So this is what’s meant by “No Child Left Behind.” December 22, 2007

Posted by emsgeiss in education, Humor & Satire, parenting & family, politics, writing/editing/blogging.
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Yesterday, I had to do a few quick errands, which meant driving straight into the Lion’s Den, also known as the one-mile square radius of the major shopping mall in our city.  My usual route to that neck of the woods was backed up, so I took a detour, which led me down the street where one of our city’s two high schools is.  Driving along, passing some kids with backpacks and others curiously without any, I noticed the school’s street-side marquis.

It read, and I kid you not, “Holiday Recess. 12-22-07 Thru 1-7-08.”  Certainly my eyes were deceiving me. I must have been distracted by Viggo Mortgensen’s voice on NPR as he discussed his most-recent film.  Certainly a schoolhad not spelled “through” as “T-H-R-U” on its marquis, and especially not the school that is literally walking distance from the Board of Education.  I wished for one brief second that my cell had been close enough and that I’d been stopped in traffic in front of the marquis, so that I could snap a picture. It was fodder for a blog post.

But I let the visions of this post scamper away to the back of my mind, since without a picture, there would be no way that anyone would believe me. Perhaps my subconscious or the fates (maybe the Muse was working some magic as she danced a jig) wanted me to write about it, for it turns out that I ended up leaving the wrapping paper that I’d purchased at one of the stores that I went to, only to discover the missing item when I was a quarter-mile from home and a few hours later than when I’d bought it. This meant making a trip there today to retrieve my purchase, thus giving me ample time to go and snap that crazy picture—assuming that I read what I thought I’d read. 

Sadly, my trip to take the picture was not in vain, for as plain as day, there it was:



So, no I had not lost my mind, nor in dire need of a new prescription for eye-wear. Some administrator actually allowed this accursed word to be used on the school’s marquis. Sure, we see “thru” instead of “through” in all sorts of places—usually in advertising. And while as annoying as it is for the purist, most of us have come to accept such spellings in advertising. I don’t want to see it at a school. How on earth is any English teacher going to be able to combat such spelling from her students when they can now quip back, “well the school used it that way.”

When I told my husband about it, he suggested that perhaps the school had run out of letters, and opted for the advertising spelling. Sure I can see that to an extent, maybe the letters O, G and H had been absconded with or got lost in the trash, or even during a storm, simply blown off, never to be found (or replaced) again. Okay, I’ll bite.

But what about the other high school, which has a pretty new, wonderful digital display? What does its holiday recess marquis look like? 

You’re curious aren’t you?

So was I. And since the other high school is about an eighth of a mile from my house, I decided to go take a look-see.  Guess what I found:



 Do you see it?  Hmmm.

Perhaps the budget cuts included cutting out the use of certain letters, or worse, certain letter-blends.  All of the snippy humor notwithstanding, it does make me question the concept of “No Child Left Behind.” Someone, somewhere was not doing his or her job, ensuring that at an educational institution the marquis reflected its commitment to academic excellence.  Or perhaps these two marquis are cases-in-point that they do.  And we wonder why many of our schools (in our state and our country) are failing and/or performing lower than “adequate yearly progress” mandates stipulate.   Now for those reading this, who are ready to say that most of those schools are in the inner-city or deeply rural areas, these two schools are not. They are in a mostly white, average working- and middle-class suburb. Kind of makes you go, “hmm,” now doesn’t it?  I imagine that were they alive, both Presidents Kennedy and Truman would be appalled to see such spelling usually reserved for advertising and store marquis on the marquis of schools that bear their names (or any other school for that matter). I know I am.

Copyright 2007, © Erika-Marie S. Geiss



1. Writing the Cyber Highway - December 23, 2007

Wow… Who would have thought?! I hear all the time that teens are graduating without even being able to read. Hmmm… So sad! I knew how to read in the first grade. How has school changed so much? What really shocked me was the digital marquis. I’m stunned. Spelling… reading… are these important aspects of education just fading into infinity? Gee… *frowns*

I’m glad you shared this with us, Erika.

2. indianamatt - December 23, 2007

I tried to give the benefit of the doubt to the first school. I thought maybe they had a bad experience in the past with some hooligan rearranging the letters to leave a “bad word” on the sign. However, in trying to arrange THROUGH into something racy, all I could come up with was HOTRUG (and that’s leaving an H out). So, I think they were just stupid. 🙂

3. Arachne Jericho - December 24, 2007

I do not terribly mind seeing THRU instead of THROUGH, even in the context of schools. Marquis are limited on space, and the important information are the dates, the greeting, and name of the event. And it’s arguable that THROUGH is too long for a preposition, especially on the very limited space to catch attention.

THRU is pretty much a commonly accepted abbreviation for this context, in which it’s no worse than “WED” for Wednesday.

Plus marquis boards do not indicate grammar quality actually taught in the school. Marquis boards are just marquis boards…. otherwise I would have been in a rather stupid school, and I’m pretty sure I’m not dumb on grammar/spelling/English/etc. 🙂

4. Angela Dalecki - December 27, 2007

Great blog post!

I recently met a young lady who experienced a “new” method of teaching during her first few years of school. Not only did her teachers encourage students to learn to spell words phonetically, they flat-out REFUSED to teach them the correct way to spell anything.

So this? Doesn’t surprise me. It’s sad, but unfortunately not suprising.

The education system in this country scares me.

5. emsgeiss - December 28, 2007

Angela, I too, have heard of that, and it is mighty scary.

Arachne, marquis space limitations notwithstanding, the difference between using “Wed” (or Wed. or WED) instead of Wednesday versus using Thru instead of Through is that Wed, Wed., and WED are all accepted abbreviations for the longer word. And in that they are shortenings of the full word and spelled out correctly in their shortened form is what makes the abbreviations in standard use correct. T-H-R-U is not how we spell the preposition, it is not standard English, (at least not yet anyway, and heaven forbid it ever becomes so) and outside of advertising, is incorrect, and in my opinion, should not be used on a marquis where the very people for whom the sign is intended are those who are in the process of learning proper use–you can’t start breaking the rules before you know how to use them correctly. It’s like spelling light L-I-T-E and thinking that it’s the correct spelling, when it’s an advertising term/marketing gimmick. And if you look at the first marquis, there is ample space for three more letters on that line, and for the digital marquis, there is absolutely no excuse. It’s hard to tell from the pict, but the phrase is centered, if you look at the left margin, you can extrapolate what the right margin is and realize that they too had room for three more letters (or could have used the next line). It’s one thing to see “THRU” on a billboard/event venue/bar marquis as in: “Battle of the Bands Fri. Thru Sun. 9 p.m.” On that kind of marquis, I’d take it with a grain of salt, but not at an educational institution and certainly not at a high school.

6. Arachne Jericho - December 28, 2007

I suppose so. I would be unhappy seeing LITE or NITE on the boards, but I have seen them, and those do give me that sinking feeling.

Even when not at high schools. Football game or theater marquis. It’s just wrong everywhere (to me anyways).

7. swededad - December 28, 2007

“Inventive spelling” afflicted at least two of your younger sibling’s first grade experiences. At a good private school. One of them went backwards in reading most of the year and your clueless parents had no idea what was going on. *** YOU CANNOT TRUST ANYONE IN US EDUCATION ***. They all need to be watched as common sense seems to be entirely lost in schools of Education. Try searching Google for “Fuzzy Math” to find the current idiocy.

8. Nick - January 18, 2008

I have just returned from a trip to Tel Aviv and had a great experience there but that is another subject. To take on the education subject at hand I offer this. My “Driver” (suspected Shin Bet agent) and I had several great conversations. It is required that ALL students in Israeli schools learn Hebrew and English from their equivalent of kindergarden until graduation and are tested on both subjects. They are also required to learn Arabic until 7th grade. Are the students their smarter than ours probably not but they are better “educated” certainly.

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