I am perhaps more sensitive than most people to jargon. I have spent a large part of my working life, first as a journalist and now as a journalism professor and author, trying to avoid speaking or writing it. My models have been George Orwell, Red Smith (who quit Sports Illustrated because copy editors kept inserting the word "moreover" into his stories), and the King James version of the Bible.
Of course, journalism, like any other trade or profession today, has its own jargon. But as jargon goes, journalism's is refreshingly blunt: You slug a story and kill a graph. Nowhere does it approach the capacity of education jargon to obscure the obvious. And I should know. I serve on the board of education in the Highland Central School District in Highland, New York.
When I was still just a regular taxpayer sitting in the audience at school board meetings, I would try to follow the discussion but would soon catch myself contemplating the mole on the board president's face. I would feel guilty about having allowed my attention to wander. Now I realize that the meetings were conducted in a language designed precisely to make you focus on something else, anything else,...
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