Saturday, May 12, 2007

Unbridled Typos

Unbridled Typos

“When I think back on all the c___ I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.”

-Paul Simon

I learned how to type in high school. I had the worst penmanship in my school, and the principal personally signed me up for a typing class. He said it would change my life.

He was right. I became a wiz in the days of manual typewriters. When computers came along, I was set.

I could never have gone into journalism without my ability to type quickly. Typing is the only mechanical skill that I have. I can’t fix machinery, but I can always find a job typing.

Although I have grown to appreciate my typing skills, Barbara Erwin doesn’t share in that same affinity.

When certain items on her resume were found to be false, she dismissed them as “typos.”

Ms. Erwin may need a remedial course in typing.

She also might need a course in semantics. In my high school grammar classes, we used different words than Ms. Erwin for incorrect information.

One popular definition was “a lie.” Other definitions were “a falsehood” or “a misrepresentation.”

“Typo” never made the list.

Erwin’s resume said that she was named Superintendent of the Year by the Texas Association of School Administrators.

There is a slight problem: the Texas Association of School Administrators does not give out a Superintendent of the Year award.

Ms. Erwin’s “typo” made her appear as though she had won an award that didn’t exist.

Now that she is coming to Kentucky, I wonder if Erwin can teach Kentuckians how to win awards that either they didn’t earn or that never existed in the first place.

I would like to be a named a Nobel Prize winner. It doesn’t have to be from the Nobel Prize committee. If the National Association of Tractor Drivers wants to give me their Nobel Prize for Literature, I would be glad to accept.

If there is no Association of Tractor Drivers (I didn’t check) or they don’t give out Nobel Prizes, I still want to be able to list the prize on my vita.

Listing myself as a Nobel Prize winner would boost my resume, and I want Ms. Erwin to show me how it is done.

If Ms. Erwin can teach me how to pad my resume and blow it off as a “typo,” she might be worth the money Kentucky is paying her.

Being a Nobel Prize-winning author will help me make a lot of money

Just like Erwin’s fake Superintendent of the Year award helped her get a $220,000-per-year job.

I am distraught that Kentucky would hire an education commissioner whose knowledge of typing and semantics are so weak. For $220,000 a year, they ought to be able to get a better candidate.

When a government entity makes a bad hiring decision, I don’t get angry at the person being hired; I get angry at the people doing the hiring. In this case the hiring was done by the Kentucky Board of Education, whose members were all appointed by Governor Ernie Fletcher.

The Kentucky Board of Education didn’t care that Ms. Erwin had falsehoods on her resume or that she couldn’t type.

I’m not sure which is worse. We don’t want someone spreading false information to be in charge of education.

We also don’t want someone who doesn’t know how to type: typing is an essential skill in the technological world.

I haven’t been to China or India, but I bet their education commissioners know how to type. If we are going to compete, we need an education commissioner who is a competent communicator in addition to their other skills.

Despite my bragging about speed and skills, I often make typing and grammar mistakes. In the days of manual typewriters, I applied for a job with a misspelling in my cover letter.

The human resources director sent it back and said that I would not be considered because of the mistake.

That company had a pass/fail grading system for their hires. It looks like the Kentucky School Board grades on the curve.

When our children become adults and compete in the world economy, they will find that the world does not give “gentleman” or “gentlewoman” A’s They will have to be well-educated in order to survive.

I’m worried that Ms. Erwin does not have the skill set needed to help Kentucky compete in a world economy.

Admittedly, she does have one thing going for her.

She seems to have experience in writing creative fiction.

Don McNay is the author of the Unbridled World of Ernie Fletcher. His column is award-winning but has not been awarded the Nobel Prize by any organization of any kind. You can write to him at or read other things he has written at He is on the Board of Directors for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

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