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[Susan notes: Although a sidetrack from Steve's fine letter, I can't relating how my recent experience at Audi dealership illustrates the German obsession with standardizing everything. I nearly broke my nose walking into a glass wall. An employee told me even people who work there have walked into that wall.

When my husband suggested putting a sticker or two on the wall, the employee replied, "Oh no! Everything in the building must be to standard. Inspectors from Germany allow no changes."

Not even a sticker on a dangerous wall.]

Submitted to but not published

To the editor

German robots school U.S. workers (Sept. 10) is the most recent of a series of reports in the Wall Street Journal on the substantial shortage of job applicants with "middle skills," requiring less than a college degree but more than high school. Instead of increasing apprenticeships and investing more in vocational education for young people interested in this path, we now have the common core standards, which will make things much worse.

Schools should include literature, but as Susan Ohanian points out, the common core elitist language arts standards are clearly designed for college English majors. Forcing all high school students to read and dissect works such as Ovid's Metamorphoses will be useful and interesting only for a tiny minority.

John Gardner, Former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, tried to warn us years ago: "The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."

Stephen Krashen, USC Professor Emeritus

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