Yes, student writing can be pretty bad, but I know I didn't write that badly in grade nine. Yet I had one of those educations that the critics like to disparage, full of self-study, electives (like Chinese history and world politics) and even more than a little rebellion (such as boycotting memory tests in Grade 12 English). So maybe the people criticizing the writing are comparing apples to oranges - comparing the best of writing (including their own, a precursor to a successful academic career) to the worst of today's (or at the very least, the average of today's). Were people better educated fifty years ago? Almost certainly not! They weren't even getting to ninth grade much less writing fluently in it. So maybe we should take these "oh my gost today's studentsa re so awful" stories with a grain of salt.