Why Not Finnegans Wake?

Steve Sailer recently complained that California educators "are living in a dreamland". The reason? Well, the California Department of Education put up an Internet service for parents that want to encourage their children to read. You can enter the child's grade level and proficiency level. (Apparently, in California they have some standardized reading exam and you get sorted into one of 13 proficiency levels.) The service then gives you a list of suggested books. The problem that Sailer complains about is that the list for the weakest high school students seems a trifle hard - which I second.

But a bit of playing around with the page suggests the problem is not that educators are living in a dreamland, it is that some programmers are living in an incompetenceland. Whichever proficiency level you select, you get pretty much the same list - which seems to be the one for the best students.

So, when a troubled mother tries to find a book for her fifteen-year-old who reads at the level of a nine-year-old, the California government helps her by suggesting, among others, Othello, King Lear and Hamlet.

The next time you're in South Central, don't be surprised if some kid sticks a gun in your face and says: "Thou art being robbed. Thy money or thy life! To be or not to be, get it?"

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