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Grades Rise as Reading Skills Drop in H.S. Study (Scary Stuff)
NYTimes.com ^ | 02/22/2007 | DIANA JEAN SCHEMO

Posted on 02/22/2007 12:03:31 PM PST by devane617

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 — Today’s high school students are taking seemingly tougher courses and earning better grades, but their reading skills are not improving, according to the results of a national assessment released here today that cited grade inflation as a possible explanation. .

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: education
27 percent of high schoolers can't understand train fares when read. Oh my!!!

Is it really the terrorists we need to be worried about?

1 posted on 02/22/2007 12:03:32 PM PST by devane617
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To: devane617

The joys of public ejamakshun. Glad my parents were relatively involved in my schooling.


2 posted on 02/22/2007 12:05:17 PM PST by AntiKev ("No damage. The world's still turning isn't it?" - Stereo Goes Stellar - Blow Me A Holloway)
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To: AntiKev

But you and I won't be running America in 20 years.


3 posted on 02/22/2007 12:06:35 PM PST by devane617 (Let's take back our country -- get a job in the MSM, or education system. We need you.)
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To: devane617

Is it really the terrorists we need to be worried about?
-----
No, it is a totally dysfunctional government school (indoctrination) system that is dumbing-down our children. The libs of academia have no accountability. The strongest union (teacher's union) they are, in Washington, which panders to them, needless to say.

If I had to educate my two kids over, they would NEVER set foot in a goverment indoctrination camp. I would work two jobs if I had to, to pay for private, quality education, not mindless indoctrination.

It is pathetic what is coming out of our so-called schools.


4 posted on 02/22/2007 12:08:33 PM PST by EagleUSA
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To: devane617

Public opinion polls during presidential election years always show education as one of the highest ranking concerns of American voters. So it is not surprising that presidential candidates of both major parties always spend a great deal of time talking about their deep commitment to the education of “our nation’s children.”

This commitment always involves a promise to increase federal spending on public education – actually, government education – and also to fight for systemic changes aimed at improved school accountability, smaller classes, more teachers, more funding for infrastructure, and so on.

All of this new spending and systemic change is necessary, we are told each year, because our schools are in crisis. Thus, we have George W Bush and Ted Kennedy teaming up in 2001 to fix public education by giving us “No Child Left Behind,” which was supposed to fix a system supposedly already fixed by a 1994 piece of federal legislation called “Goals 2000,” which was supposed to fix a system already fixed by “America 2000,” which was a 1991 response during the first Bush administration to a 1983 Reagan-era federal report on education called “A Nation at Risk,” which was published a full four years after Jimmy Carter fixed the nation’s public school system by first establishing a cabinet-level Department of Education in 1979.

You don’t have to be Nostradamus to see what the future holds if this trend is allowed to continue – more money thrown at ever larger failures, year after year after year. Has there ever been a year in which the federal government has spent less money on education than the year before? The US spends more per pupil than any other country. Has there ever been a year in which America has been able to declare that it has the best educated population in the world? Not that I’ve ever heard.

One nice thing about the free market is that when a business continuously delivers shoddy products to its customers at inflated prices, the customers eventually stop buying and the business is forced to shut its doors and stop wasting resources. Not so with federal programs. If a federal program – such as public education -- fails miserably at its stated purpose, then all the special interests and social engineering bureaucrats start screaming that the failure is due to a lack of funding.

Thus, the worse the performance, the more money these people get. Talk about a perverse incentive. Naturally, those who would argue that maybe it is time to stop throwing good money after bad, and that maybe it is time to get the federal government out of the education business altogether, will be greeted with horrified accusations that they don’t care about the education of “our nation’s children.”.


5 posted on 02/22/2007 12:08:57 PM PST by Maceman (This is America. Why must we press "1" for English?)
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To: Maceman

All of this new spending and systemic change is necessary, we are told each year, because our schools are in crisis. Thus, we have George W Bush and Ted Kennedy teaming up in 2001 to fix public education by giving us “No Child Left Behind,” which was supposed to fix a system supposedly already fixed by a 1994 piece of federal legislation called “Goals 2000,” which was supposed to fix a system already fixed by “America 2000,” which was a 1991 response during the first Bush administration to a 1983 Reagan-era federal report on education called “A Nation at Risk,” which was published a full four years after Jimmy Carter fixed the nation’s public school system by first establishing a cabinet-level Department of Education in 1979.
-----
Yes, and what has Washington accomplished?? We still have outcome-based liberal "education"...pathetic.


6 posted on 02/22/2007 12:11:11 PM PST by EagleUSA
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To: devane617
"27 percent of high schoolers can't understand train fares when read. Oh my!!! "
That's how it should be. "It all comes from literacy. First, happiness is not the money, then a peasant, too, is a human being, then more, subversive verses, and finally a riot! I'd be asking directly: Literate? Impale him! Writes verses? Impale! Knows tables? - Tmpale him, he knows too much!" ["To be a god is hard", by Strugatsky brothers].
7 posted on 02/22/2007 12:12:54 PM PST by GSlob
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To: devane617

I guess the only answere is more gov't control and more of my money?????????????


8 posted on 02/22/2007 12:13:10 PM PST by 100-Fold_Return (Buy High--Sell HIGHER)
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To: devane617
Everything seems normal, right-on to me.

The private market, free people over time produces ever higher quality goods at ever lower prices.

Government is just the reverse.

Over time, ever lower quality at higher prices/cost.
9 posted on 02/22/2007 12:14:00 PM PST by Leisler (REAL ENVIRONMENTALISTS WALK.)
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To: devane617

Let me try and get this straight. Grades are improving but reading ability isn't. Hmmm. Could it be that the tests are being dumbed down? Naw, they'd never do that.


10 posted on 02/22/2007 12:15:53 PM PST by taxesareforever (Never forget Matt Maupin)
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To: devane617
Today’s high school students are taking seemingly tougher courses and earning better grades, but their reading skills are not improving, according to the results of a national assessment released here today that cited grade inflation as a possible explanation.

No, they aren't. Today's HS students are taking courses so dumbed down that a retarded goat could pass them. However, with the Internet, American Idol, Xbox, and hip-hop crammed into their heads, they don't have the mental capacity to process anything that requires actual thought. And, they haven't been required to actually READ andything since . . . . . . well, BIRTH!!!

11 posted on 02/22/2007 12:18:02 PM PST by DustyMoment (FloriDUH - proud inventors of pregnant/hanging chads and judicide!!)
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To: AntiKev

Not surprisingly, the best way to develop reading skills is to do lots of reading. I'm glad I was always an avid reader, because the schools would have quite happily graduated me only semi-literate.


12 posted on 02/22/2007 12:18:13 PM PST by -YYZ-
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To: devane617

Is it really the terrorists we need to be worried about?



Neal Boortz is taking a bunch of flack because his new book, Somebody's got to say it, states that the NEA is a bigger threat to the security of the United States than the terrorists.


13 posted on 02/22/2007 12:19:10 PM PST by Mack the knife
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To: devane617

I don't mean to disregard this study, but could it be that the students are just tested to death and don't take them seriously. I know quite a few that just check "c" on every question, but are otherwise very smart students. When I was in school I believe I took two tests in my tenur (Iowa Basics and SATs). Sure Iowa Basics was taken a few times over the 12 years, and SATs (pre-1 time and SATs-2 times). But it seems like they are constantly taking these tests everytime you turn around. I believe the kids are about done with these tests. I am being devil's advocate on this and perhaps maybe there is a problem but I think my post needs at least some consideration.


14 posted on 02/22/2007 12:22:32 PM PST by napscoordinator
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To: devane617

Today’s high school students are taking seemingly tougher courses and earning better grades, but their reading skills are not improving,..



If you want to personally do something about this, visit "speedreading4kids.com". You don't have to be a speed reader to teach it to kids.


15 posted on 02/22/2007 12:23:27 PM PST by Mack the knife
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To: devane617

Have to look at the bright side, they know how to use a condom,


16 posted on 02/22/2007 12:29:21 PM PST by bikerman (Loud pipes save lives)
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To: devane617
27 percent of high schoolers can't understand train fares when read. Oh my!!!

Grade inflation is real and masks a multitude of student deficiencies. Period. That said, being able to train fares/schedules is a marginal metric at best, biased at worst. Proficiency with them is probably more a function of living in a metro area than actual literacy.

17 posted on 02/22/2007 12:29:26 PM PST by Lil'freeper (You do not have the plug-in required to view this tagline.)
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To: devane617

Many parents aren't aware of it, but there are options to high school. We homeschooled through the 9th grade, then enrolled in the community college for the "dual credit" program, so by the end of 12th grade the student has the opportunity to not only be awarded a HS diploma, but also an AA. Without too much effort, my son racked up 78 hours that were transferable to the state university. Best part, all 78 hours were tuition free under the dual credit program and he never set foot in a high school.


18 posted on 02/22/2007 12:31:24 PM PST by dawn53
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To: Maceman

Thus, the worse the performance, the more money these people get.




This is it in a nut shell. The addiction to socialist systems of redistribution will only result in the continuation of the growth of government. The masses will not let go because they "pay" for it. And pay for it they do, but they don't have any control. Freedom away from the system is the only freedom to be had.

This reminds me of a story told about how monkeys are caught to be eaten. Gourds are emptied out and some food is put inside. The monkeys come along and reach in to get the food. But the top of the gourd is too small to allow the monkey to remove their hand clutching the food. They get trapped by their own desire to have that food. The monkey's shriek when the humans approach to get them. But they refuse to let go of the food in their hands.

The American people have become the monkey's unwilling to let go of the socialist school system. Some do, most will not and do not. Because they feel owed. And so it goes on. And on.


19 posted on 02/22/2007 12:34:37 PM PST by TruthConquers (Delenda est publius schola)
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To: mother22wife21

Possible idea for kitten and cub.


20 posted on 02/22/2007 12:35:45 PM PST by Famishus (North of the equator, the Death Spiral is clockwise.)
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To: Lil'freeper

It's pretty sad when you see job postings for degreed chemists and the first required skill listed is "must be able to understand and follow written instructions."

'Course, maybe they're only looking at foreign born applicants.


21 posted on 02/22/2007 12:36:09 PM PST by Overtaxed
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To: devane617

So...why are we making public education mandatory if they fail teach people how to read, write, and count, let alone the things you need to be a successful citizen like civics, economics, and history? How many more children have to be fed through this wood chipper of failure before public education is either radically changed or dismantled entirely?


22 posted on 02/22/2007 12:38:44 PM PST by Quick or Dead
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To: dawn53

Thank you for posting! Just this week my son is going through the process of enrollment for the dual credit program at our local college. He's bright, used to get straight A's, but admittedly just can't function to his full ability with all the crap that goes on in traditional high schools. There's less emphasis on learning and more emphasis on how to feel good and socialize. Kudos to your son, too. I'll have to pass on your success story to mine.


23 posted on 02/22/2007 12:40:21 PM PST by momfirst
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To: -YYZ-

Read a lot. Little reading is required anymore, even in college. Understanding what has been read is even less emphasized. Reading should be approached as an athletic kind of training. Power reading should be intense, every day, several hours a day. Writing should be added to the power reading sessions once the pupil is fourteen. Reading unfamiliar foreign languages quickly exposes deficiencies in understanding, as does reading poetry.


24 posted on 02/22/2007 12:41:36 PM PST by RightWhale (300 miles north of Big Wild Life)
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To: Quick or Dead

Why is public education mandatory?

The sad truth is that education is NOT mandatory. Only attendance is mandatory. This is why parents aren't able to sue the school system for their failures. The total responsibility for education is in the parents hands. Which I do agree with, but it also gives the education bureaucracy total freedom to not to teach! And get money only based on attendance. What a racket.


25 posted on 02/22/2007 12:43:50 PM PST by TruthConquers (Delenda est publius schola)
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To: DustyMoment; Swordmaker

Hey, nice to see you again :-).

I was curious about the relevence of grade levels to the real world, so I took an issue that's been bothering me for a while and analyzed it.

I was wondering if the person on the street would be able to comprehend Microsoft's instructions for determing what level of Windows Vista you should buy. I had a feeling the average person could probably not properly read and digest the document below:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/editions/default.mspx?wt_svl=20211a&mg_id=20211b

So, how easy is it to comprehend this information? Lexile gives it a score of 1370. This appears to be a "some college" (above high school graduate) level. See

http://www.lexile.com/DesktopDefault.aspx?view=ed&tabindex=6&tabid=18

The SMOG Readability Index gives me a score of 12.49.

http://www.harrymclaughlin.com/SMOG.htm

So it looks like consistency is pretty high since that's also a post high school reading level.

But it gets worse. What if you want to understand the features of Windows Vista Home Basic and click on the link for it? A snappy 14.05 ("Some College, New York Times" again).

Well, in theory, virtually everyone is going to buy a home computer at some point, and so you would wonder why these materials are created for such a high reading level.

Unfortunately, when you buy a Windows product, you usually wind up having some kind of problem. Like how to get your pictures from your digital camera to your computer. Microsoft's writeup of this:

http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-US/help/924a1b6f-6202-487c-a59b-f7130ce774a41033.mspx

gets a snappy 12.49. So you have to graduate from high school to learn how to move your photos.

How about if you get stuck in "Reduced Functionality Mode"?

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/925616

13.95. You need some college to read it.

Well, why don't we solve this problem by all switching to Macs? This actually does work. Apple's site for MacOS X Leopard Sneak peek has a snappy 9.9 readability index, or "some high school."

So I would be saying we should all move to Macs, except I'm afraid it takes more than a junior high job to be able to afford one. I know, Macs are comparably priced for PCs when you get the same stuff with them, but people who can't read Microsoft marketing literature are not likely to care; they need entry-level computers.

However, it has to be said that there is a kicker. I, with my obviously way above high school reading skills, could not figure out which version of Windows Vista I should get from the information given on that first page. The smoky generalities on the web site that really tell you next to nothing about the differences.

I wonder what education level you need to get to in order to realize this. Maybe the early high school student who tries to read that page and says nothing but "It's all gobbledygook!" is making a better decision than the post-grad who can understand it and takes it all seriously.

But in the end, it seems like if you want to make sure your computer doesn't get stuck in "Reduced Functionality Mode" (in which the web browser generously lets you navigate to Microsoft's web site and buy a new Windows Vista license), you'd better learn more than most people seem to be learning nowadays.

D



26 posted on 02/22/2007 1:13:58 PM PST by daviddennis (If you like my stuff, please visit amazing.com, my new social networking site!)
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To: devane617
"In math, girls had higher grades from teachers, but scored about equally with boys on the national assessment. Boys who had taken advanced math and science courses, however, scored higher on the exam than girls who had also taken such courses."

Anti-male bias, much?

Sounds like the data shows girls get higher grades than they really earn. Calling Lawrence Summers...
27 posted on 02/22/2007 1:16:05 PM PST by omnivore
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To: RightWhale
Reading unfamiliar foreign languages quickly exposes deficiencies in understanding, as does reading poetry.

Hear, hear. I did not overly trouble myself with English grammar until I began the study of German. It was the contrasts and similarities between the two languages that finally engaged my interest in the subject.

Of course, the downside is that it made me an insufferable Grammar Pecksniff.

< }B^)

28 posted on 02/22/2007 1:45:00 PM PST by Erasmus (Tautology: A circular argument with a radius of zero.)
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To: Overtaxed
It's pretty sad when you see job postings for degreed chemists and the first required skill listed is "must be able to understand and follow written instructions."

Heh. I imagine many folks leave degree programs wondering what language it is they really speak after spending so many hours in lectures and labs with grad students who can barely speak a word of English.

29 posted on 02/22/2007 1:45:37 PM PST by Lil'freeper (You do not have the plug-in required to view this tagline.)
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To: daviddennis

BTW, your post is a 10.51.


30 posted on 02/22/2007 1:50:25 PM PST by Erasmus (Tautology: A circular argument with a radius of zero.)
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To: Erasmus

You know, I almost posted that as a follow-up to my post because I knew someone would check :-).

I do think it makes the point that while descriptive writing, such as the Vista marketing material, appears to be increasing in complexity, our ability to read it is falling.

That's certainly something I would be worried about.

D


31 posted on 02/22/2007 2:50:08 PM PST by daviddennis (If you like my stuff, please visit amazing.com, my new social networking site!)
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To: AntiKev

Exactly, I bet their teachers test scores would be as low or lower.


32 posted on 02/22/2007 2:51:13 PM PST by az wildkitten
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To: Erasmus

I mentioned poetry also because I found some prose articles by Coleridge and Wordsworth that were every bit as elegant as their poetry, and perfectly clear. If we could write prose as clearly as Milton, Coleridge and Wordsworth, and they make it look easy, we could ask no more.


33 posted on 02/22/2007 3:32:19 PM PST by RightWhale (300 miles north of Big Wild Life)
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To: Erasmus
Of course, the downside is that it made me an insufferable Grammar Pecksniff.

"Grammar Pecksniff" should not be capitalized.

34 posted on 02/22/2007 3:37:27 PM PST by thesharkboy
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To: thesharkboy
But it's an official title.

< }B^)

35 posted on 02/22/2007 3:47:58 PM PST by Erasmus (Tautology: A circular argument with a radius of zero.)
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To: daviddennis

Without a doubt, David, you ask some good questions. So, let me share some experiences with you. In the mid-80s, after I graduated from college, I went to work as a technical writer. In those days, we wrote to the level of an average 10th grader.

Things have changed quite a bit. Today, technical writers who understand the material they are writing (rare) and care about their users (rarer), write to the level of an average 5th grader.

Between 2003 and 2004, I worked in Florida as a substitute teacher and had to "teach" reading classes. What a joke!! The students were required to sit at their desks with an open book in front of them. No one reads aloud. They can't be forced or asked to read aloud. So, let me pose a rhetorical question back to you - if the teacher can't ask the students to read aloud, how do they know if the student has a reading problem?

But, it gets worse. In 1998, the Dallas Business Journal published a study undicating that 40% of the population were illiterate. Of the remainder, another 40% are believed to be functionally illiterate. In the interim, what indications are there to suggest that reading levels have improved??

There are none. What passes for a high school graduate today barely possesses the knowledge or skills to read a 3rd grade primer from when I was in school. They don't care about getting educations because they are all convinced they will make it big in the NBA, NFL, MLB, or on American Idol. Even those who are so bad they don't make it through the auditions are convinced that Simon doesn't know what he is talking about. Simon is very blunt, but he knows the music business better than these wannabees will ever begin to understand.

And none of them have the ability to figure out that they are going to have a lifelong career that comes with the question, "You want fries with that?"


36 posted on 02/22/2007 5:47:06 PM PST by DustyMoment (FloriDUH - proud inventors of pregnant/hanging chads and judicide!!)
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To: DustyMoment

undicating = indicating

(stupid ketboard!)

:-)


37 posted on 02/22/2007 5:51:12 PM PST by DustyMoment (FloriDUH - proud inventors of pregnant/hanging chads and judicide!!)
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To: DustyMoment

Could we make much progress by saying that even making it in the aforementioned dream careers is greatly enhanced by the ability to read and write?

It would be nice to understand a playbook, or know how to read music, right? How about writing original songs?

If the kids wanted to read silently instead of aloud, couldn't you quiz them on the material when they were done with it and figure out their reading ability through that? Without a quiz and without reading aloud certainly there seems like there would be little motivation to read or try to understand what was read.

I'm sure that, realistically, the people who succeeded on American Idol had musical training and practiced like crazy to get to their big break, no?

I don't know if you can have a lifelong career asking about fries. McDonalds, like virtually every service employer I know of, prefers to hire younger people because they look cute and perky.

Here in Pittsburgh there is a shortage of young people, and this brings the old out of the woodwork. Wal*Mart loves to hire them. Sometimes this produces good results, and I suppose we should commend the company or its humanitarian attitude. I know of at least one Wal*Mart employee who grunts instead of talks and doesn't seem to quite understand how to use the register. Sometimes humanitarianism goes a shade too far.

So I guess Wal*Mart can be a lifetime career, albiet one that's not terribly satisfying. And I don't know if we have enough Wal*Marts or Giant Eagles(*) to employ all the undereducated people pouring out of our schools.

Even Giant Eagle recently introduced Giant Eagle Market District(tm), which requires that clerks actually have some knowledge of what they are selling. The idea is that if someone asks where the hoisin sauce is, the typical employee will not give a blank stare. Only about half of employees know, but this is a significant improvement over "normal" Giant Eagles.

I gather you are in agreement that no sane person is likely to comprehend the Microsoft documents?

How's this?

Windows Vista Basic is for the cheap slob who can't afford a decent (> $1,000) computer.

Windows Vista Home Premium is for you if you want your computer to look nice but don't need to connect to a fancy corporate network. Most people will like this version best.

Windows Vista Business is for the poor saps who have to interact with a Windows Network Server.

Windows Vista Ultimate is for you if you want to both process photos you took on your vacation and interact with a Windows Network Server. It's also for anyone who really, really loves Microsoft and wants to play with some extra toys they throw in. At $399, you'd better really, really love Microsoft to buy this product.

---

Ouch. 9.87, or around 7th to 8th grade.

I don't know if there's anyone else watching but us, but this truly is educational. The average guy on the street could not understand the above? I thought I'd simplified it about as much as it could be simplified.

Is it possible that the concept of Windows Vista Editions is simply impossible for people at today's level of education to understand without someone personally tutoring them?

Okay, try again.

Windows Vista Basic: Avoid, it looks boring.

Windows Vista Home Premium: Get this, it looks nicer.

Windows Vista Business: Get this if you have a Windows server and need to hook up with it.

Windows Vista Ultimate: Get this if you want to both hook up with a Windows server and do home-type stuff.

That got me to 6.87. I guess that's almost okay, but it sounds really awful to anyone above that level, at least to my ears. Also, it may be that the lumpy terminology Microsoft uses to name their editions hurts readability in and of itself, before I even write a word.

(I have of course spared you the differences between regular, update and OEM editions, not to mention the Starter edition for third world countries and the Enterprise edition for big companies. It is not outside the realm of imagination that Microsoft believes confusing their customers is a virtue. I think they're being dreadfully short-sighted about this, but then again, I'm a Mac user, and we're notorious for thinking the doom of Microsoft is just around the corner. I would argue that such doom has been richly deserved, but alas, they'll probably survive.)

D

(*) Pittsburgh's crummy local grocery. Any Publix is universes better.


38 posted on 02/23/2007 10:24:38 AM PST by daviddennis (If you like my stuff, please visit amazing.com, my new social networking site!)
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