Dumb Questions for Bright Kids?

When Jim Hatem set out to prepare his students at Los Angeles High for this year's academic decathlon, which has become a kind of Super Bowl for brainy high schoolers, he anticipated a rigorous curriculum focused on the three Rs. Instead Hatem, a science teacher and volunteer coach, opened the prepackaged U.S. Academic Decathlon Association study materials and was stunned to discover bizarre questions asking, for example, what year the daughter of jazz great Charlie Parker died (1955). "This crap is the antithesis of everything education's supposed to be," Hatem fumes. Says Mark Johnson, who coached Los Angeles' El Camino Real...

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