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Education Matters: Look, our intelligence is being insulted

January 14, 2011

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

When I read that the Glendale Public Works Department is stenciling the word "look" in three languages on busy street corners in Glendale, I was, in a word, dumbstruck.

It puzzles/bothers me on several levels, starting with the Spanish word chosen, "mirar," which literally means "to look." The more appropriate form of that verb for this warning would be "mira," or "mire." But that's splitting hairs, so let's take it down a level.

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Public safety in Glendale has rightfully grabbed our attention, what with cars colliding with each other and running over people, putting the city at or near the bottom of safety rankings in California among cities of comparable size. Even though it's all about bad drivers, our city officials are desperate to improve that image, in this case grasping at straws and perhaps even insulting our intelligence in the bargain.

C'mon folks. I mean, really, are we safer for having inscribed on our pavements something we learned back when we were in kindergarten? Who remembers when we were warned to "Stop, Look (both ways) and Listen" when crossing a street? Older people told us this rule, but even at 5 years old we had the good sense to see that there were very large, fast-moving objects that would hurt us if we blindly walked out into the street.

We've been told, however, that the purpose of the "Driven 2 Distraction" campaign is to "educate people into being safer." That has a nice sound, but just who did they have in mind that might benefit from this education?

I am reminded of an interesting eraser a student had years ago that was in the shape of an ice-cream cone and had carried the warning "not edible" embossed on its side. How, I wondered, could someone able to comprehend those written words not have the sense to know the difference between ice cream and rubber?

New construction at Hoover High School recently mandated that the school renumber all of its classrooms and place "EXIT" signs inside each room next to the door, with many classrooms having only the one door. Thus, for those students who might inadvertently mistake a wall for an exit, the sign was well posted.

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