AS OF April 1 the Scholastic Aptitude...


AS OF April 1 the Scholastic Aptitude Test, scourge of America's youth, lost some of its bite. The average student no longer needs to worry about explaining those low test scores to their parents and school boards can stop agonizing over how poorly their pupils do on standardized tests.

No, the students aren't any smarter and the schools aren't any better. In fact the only thing that has improved is the test scores. SAT administrators have decided that the best way to improve students' performance on the test is to give them free "bonus points" after their answers have been scored.

Under this new policy the average student, whose score has been slipping lower and lower for decades, will once again receive a score in the middle range.

While the students who previously received a high score on their own may complain because those who didn't do as well will look the same on paper, most will welcome the change. How often do they get the opportunity to do better on a test without ever cracking a book?

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A MYSTERIOUS man, known only as Davis, is -- drum roll, please -- the Graffiti Buster, resident super hero of Alum Rock, Calif.

A mild-mannered real estate agent by afternoon, every morning at 5 a.m. Mr. Davis assumes his -- another drum roll, please -- Graffiti Buster identity and patrols his neighborhood in search of the offensive. Armed with his 40-pound paint-spraying backpack and awe-inspiring Graffiti Mobile, he roams the streets of Alum Rock spraying beige paint over the graffiti he finds.

Of course, Mr. Davis isn't quite up to Superman's standards yet and hasn't started patrolling the entire city.

For the moment, he's just covering an eight-mile area. The people of Alum Rock, however, are grateful for any help they can get. They are especially appreciative to their own resident super hero -- last drum roll -- Graffiti Buster and his diligent quest to keep their neighborhood graffiti-free . . . they just wish he'd get some different colors of paint. Maybe a nice teal, a chartreuse, some brilliant fuchsia -- after all, this is California.

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