An ‘Inadquate’ Principal

Picture by Alan Levine (cogdogblog)

IT WAS greed and bribery that set me on the path to good spelling.

My greed and my primary school teacher Mr Hearne’s bribery.

Every Friday he’d give a (small) cash prize to the 10-year-old who got 10 out of 10 for spelling.

Every Friday, I’d be a winner.

He’d try to outsmart us, the words he read to the class getting tougher and tougher as the term progressed.

Marijuana almost did me in, I recall. The word, not the weed. I still don’t know how I pulled that one off. I wasn’t even sure what it was in those days.

I was lucky to have Mr Hearne for a teacher, I reckon. Of course, he’d be kicked out of the classroom for such “creative” tactics today. Named, shamed and consigned to the unemployment queue for being smart enough to know just how to get through to a bunch of mercenary little people.

Not only did he understand the power of a well-placed reward, he also knew his spelling and grammar inside out and backwards.

Which is more than can be said for the principal of a school in Brooklyn, New York, who has parents baying for his blood –- well, his resignation, anyway –- after an e-mail he sent them last week.

Not only did Andrew Buck suggest the school didn’t really need textbooks (especially, as he bizarrely explained, when that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, is so freely available), his missive was so full of errors, it had moms and dads demanding his dismissal.

“It was replete with typos and misspellings, as well as grammatical construction so heinous that … well, let’s just say that disturbing sound you hear is your fourth-grade English teacher break-dancing in her grave,” writes Tom Henderson in parentdish.

And an English teacher added: “The grammar and logic are so confused I thought it was a joke.”

In a “particularly bizarre section” of the e-mail, according to the New York Daily News, “Buck revealed that not being able to correctly answer questions at the back of many textbooks made him feel ‘dumb and inadquate’ (sic) when he was a middle school student.”

The letter resulted in some parents thinking nothing had changed, the principal was still “inadquate”.

Buck writes in one confusing sentence: “Personal experience aside which surfaces the concern about the potential adverse affects of textbooks to students learning, let’s return to the essential question of learning and how it is best achieved.”

No wonder only 13% of the school’s eighth-graders were able to pass State reading exams last year.

But Buck, it seems, can’t understand what all the fuss is about. It’s unwarranted, he reckons, and he adds with all the arrogance of the ignorant: “If any parent has concerns, I am available to speak with them.”

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This entry was posted by stevieg on Sunday, October 24th, 2010 at 9:25 am and is filed under A Passion for Words, General . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Amy Potts, Stevie Godson. Stevie Godson said: An "inadquate" principal (and how greed set me on the path to good spelling) […]

  2. I understand your anger. It is bad enough to misspell and worst to confuse the reader with poor sentence construction.

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