27 July 2009

Highway sign emblematic of American education

Exit sign for the "business" route to "Rothschild" and "Schofield" in central Wisconsin.

Photo credit, via Neatorama.


  1. Humiliating for Wisconsinites.

    On the other hand, when I was in public school in Kentucky, the state educational motto was (unofficially) "Thank God for ____________."

    The name of the state is withheld so as not to offend citizens of that state.


  2. Ok.. so its funny that they spelled business wrong. but Schofield is spelled right and Rothschield is a perfectly acceptable spelling as many people spell their name this way. (however, I do understand that no e exists in the proper spelling of Rothschild, WI. But thats an easy mistake to make, particularly in a state full of German people.

  3. @Anonymous - Schofield is NOT spelled right - it's spelled "Schofeild."

    And it is NOT "perfectly acceptable" to misspell the name of a town just because "many people" spell their name that way.


    p.s. - you also left out two apostrophes.

  4. Minnesotastan, your a reactive kinda person arnt you. I didnt notice that the i and e were mixed up in schofield. Furthermore, I didnt say that it was perfectly acceptable to spell the name of a town wrong. I said that Rothschield is a perfectly acceptable spelling and that many people spell their name that way. Notice that I said it would be an easy mistake to make should you know a lot of Rothschields, i.e. in a state with many German families. It can simply be a clerical error. Obviously they do not proof read or they would have caught the other errors. Im not sure its emblematic of american education either. Maybe of Americas distaste for proof reading. Maybe the makers of the sign are simply trying to see if others are paying attention.

    P.S. I purposely left out the apostrophes in this post just because you commented on it. Chill out some.

    P.S.S. I just looked up the name Schofeild, another perfectly acceptable name spelling. Perhaps just another mistake.

  5. P.S.S.S. Isnt it better to view the world as perhaps someone made a mistake rather than viewing the world as a place occupied by uneducated people who are too stupid to correctly spell the name of a city.

    P.S.S.S.S. Woops, no apostrophes again.. I hope your not twitching from the my poor grammar.

  6. Anonymous, the letters P.S. stand for "postscript" which means "after writing something." To put something after a P.S., it's not a P.S.S., it's a P.P.S. (a post-postscript, or after the postscript).

  7. Anonymous, it's hard for me to know where to begin answering your comments. I suppose I am a "reactive kind of person" in that every comment written on blogposts here comes through my email. I don't delete any based on opinions expressed (only for spam and such). Most are useful or informative. Others I just grit my teeth and accept, and some just beg for replies. Yours was in the latter category - and I would note that you caught me on a particularly bad day yesterday when I was in a foul mood. Normally I'm a cheerful person.

    I do not expect the general public to "know" how to spell all town names. I didn't even know how to spell "Rothschild" or "Schofield" and had to double-check while writing the post so as not to make an embarrassing error. That said, I DID CHECK my spelling. These workers did not.

    I spent years working in our "educational system" and have seen students reach the upper levels with abysmal spelling. I added a spelling test to a doctoral level course when I was course director - and many students thanked me for doing so. Many of them had acquired much of their knowledge through aural means, hearing words (in lectures) but not seeing them (by reading), so they tended to spell phonetically - or they just guessed at the spelling.

    Not only does the learning process de-emphasize reading, it also tends to favor the philosophy that "close" is "good enough." Students at the earliest levels are commended for "trying" and told that if they make mistakes, it's "o.k."

    You suggested the misspellings were "easy to make" - as though that excused them. If you had three errors made on four adjustments to your car's transmission and brakes, you'd be hopping mad. If three errors are made with your medications in the hospital, you could be dead. Calling something "simply a clerical error" does not make it acceptable.

    Your suggestion that "maybe the makers of the sign are simply trying to see if others are paying attention" is so totally ludicrous and nonsensical as to not even require a reply.

    I would not agree with you that "viewing the world as a place where people make mistakes" is more reassuring. These same people are doing aircraft maintenance, selecting O-rings for space shuttles, and entering names on terrorist watchlists. We are in a world where precision is an important component of the performance of many or most occupations.

    Lastly, I commented on your own grammar mistakes to emphasize that your own situation probably informs your opinion of the mistakes of others. I may owe you an apology if English is your second (or third) language. I taught hundreds of foreign students for whom English was a second language and never downrated or berated them for mistakes, and I make lots of mistakes when using my other languages. But your final comment suggests to me that you even make mistakes on purpose just to try to aggravate me. That's childish. I am in the process of chilling out; you need to begin the process of growing up.

  8. This is from a local Wisconsin paper -

    "How do I politely say it shows some incompetence on someone's part?" Torney said in between laughs over the sign, which reads "Exit 185 Buisness 51 Rothschield Schofeild."

    Greg Frank, general manager at Decker Supply Co. of Madison, the firm that manufactured the sign for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, said the company takes full responsibility and will pay to make the I go before E in "Schofield" and make other fixes.

    "I can't offer anything more than it was just a mistake made; just poor, poor work on our part," Frank said.

    David Vieth, director of the bureau of highway operations for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, said the DOT verified that the information sent to Decker was correct. Frank said the company might have entered the information incorrectly into its computer system and workers subsequently failed to notice the errors.

    The misspelled words went up sometime last week, when the sign was replaced after the original was damaged, Vieth said.

    Janice Nelson, a branch assistant at the Marathon County Public Library's Rothschild site, said the mistakes remind her of students who write in online shorthand -- a practice that's become popular on e-mail, instant messaging and other online communication.

    "I just know that spelling doesn't seem to be a real priority anymore," she said after chuckling at the news.

    Frank said the company is working to have the sign corrected today. The cost of removing and rearranging the lettering will be minimal, he said.

    He also promised to double check the work before hanging the repaired sign.


    Good for them to admit to incompetence and fix it at their own expense.

  9. Minnesotastan, Im glad your in the process of chilling out. Im 67 years old, so I suppose Ive done as much growing up as Im going to in this life. Maybe the next time around Ill do better, eh.

  10. No problem. Stick around. I need someone to yell at now and then; don't dare yell at my wife...


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