April 21, 2013
Sunday, 8:00 p.m.
Letter #274: Testing Developing Perseverance
It’s official: I’m a schoolboy. The California Department of Education has taken over a month to not send my GED transcripts to the prison, so I was informed by a gloating Dr. DelSordi that I would need to take the TABE (Test of American Basic Education). My cellie, Tom, who is usually spot-on in his analysis of people, believes Dr. DelSordi feels “threatened” by me, due to my initiative in running the kinds of rehabilitative classes that he should propose. Though he is younger than me, I respect his position, and I try to be as supportive of him as possible. I think he just tries to do his job, but he does just the bare minimum. And here was further proof.
I was told at first that, unlike normal society, I was not allowed to simply take the GED test. Instead, I would have to take four pre-tests proving I could pass the GED. The first test was to determine which test book I got to use for my TABE test. (How exciting! got to use the “Advanced” book!!) Then, I took a reading comprehension test (the exact same test I took five years ago, scoring a 12.9 which they lowered to a 9.0 so I would have to be re-tested), followed by a math test, an applied math test, and a language arts test.
The classroom had 23 of us in it, with at least eight of us who already had high school diplomas, GEDs, or college degrees. Some, like me and the guy I sat next to, have all three. He got his college degree in England in 1962, majoring in languages. We were reflecting on the oddity of the Latin conjugations and especially its unusual five declensions we’d each had to memorize. The Department of Corrections has determined his degree is not valid and that it is too difficult for them to verify I have a GED via the Department of Education. I finished with a perfect score in half the allotted time. (Gratefully, I was allowed to read my Bible for the remaining hour and a half.) Passing these tests, I thought, would let me take the GED. Nope.
I was placed into ABE 4, the equivalent of high school. When the teachers saw me coming the first day, they were shocked and actually asked me why was I in that class. “You’re taking up space for someone who actually needs it!” one told me. Dr. DelSordi had lied, telling me I could take the GED test outright, then denied me and said I had to be in this class every morning from 7a.m.–10 a.m., Monday–Friday, until the Pre-GED test on June 3rd, then the GED test on June 7th. He said they “need to be certain” I have the ability to pass the GED—though the test results from the TABE actually have a section that shows your potential GED score, and mine says I’d pass. I did not have a good attitude, telling myself that they’ll regret putting me through all this when I’m the Valedictorian giving a speech at the next graduation about my “Path to Getting My GED.”
I finally had to accept that God may have a purpose for all of this hassle and waste of time. It certainly was revealing some significant character flaws in me. I determined to have a good attitude and just be a model student.
The class tutor? One of my business class students. Of course. We blazed through problems like “Find the y intercept when 3y-4x=8.” My college algebra? Find the formula for the y slope intercept from when your college algebra class was 24 years ago. Oh, that’s right: y=mx+b, m being the slope and b being the y intercept. Of course the answer is 2⅔. Now if only I could remember the formula for having a better attitude. Oh, yeah: Proverbs 15: 13–16.