Strong words on strong writing skills
In these days of computers and cell phones, you might think the written word is becoming less important. You would be wrong.
That's the message from Gene Budig, a 1957 McCook High School graduate who went on to be chancellor of the University of Kansas and president of baseball's American League.
Before entering the academic and adminstrative world, Budig was a journalist, starting his career as a reporter for the McCook Daily Gazette. He later worked for the Lincoln Star before becoming administrative assistant to Gov. Frank B. Morrison and going on to success in a variety of fields.
He continues to write, having authored books about baseball and college administration in recent years. Because of his passion for written communication, Dr. Budig also serves as a member of the National Commission on Writing in America's Schools and Colleges.
It is this capacity that Dr. Budig speaks out about writing. Getting right to the point, he says:
"People who cannot write and communicate clearly are less likely to be hired than those who can. If the (poor communicators) are hired, they are unlikely to last long enough to be considered for promotion."
The strong words are appropriate today in the light of the statewide writing assessment scores for grades four, eight and eleven. McCook students did well, especially at the eighth grade level, with 91 percent of the local eighth graders rated as proficient. The majority of fourth graders (73 percent) and eleventh graders (88 percent) also met the statewide writing standards.
While the overall scores look good, McCook's director of curriculum and instruction, Carol Huff, agrees with Dr. Budig. We need to continue working hard to improve our writing skills.
There are practical reasons for this. According to a study by the National Commission on Writing, two-thirds of the employees in large U.S. corporations have writing responsibility. Also, Dr. Budig points out that "Half of the responding companies said they take writing into consideration when hiring professional employees and making promotion decisions."
To underscore his belief in the importance of good writing, Dr. Budig declares: "Without question, most of the new and meaningful jobs that will be available in the years ahead will emphasize writing. If today's students want to compete for professional work ... they must know how to communicate clearly and concisely through the written word."
McCook schools are to be complimented for their emphasis on writing skills. The lessons learned here have inspired young minds to become leaders in government, academics and industry. We need to listen to Dr. Budig. We need to continue to emphasize writing skills in our schools.