Who needs grammar?

With the new age of standards-based instruction and state-mandated testing, our students are faced with learning the skills that will keep them proficient for high school graduation–making inferences from what they read, inferring author’s purpose to name but two. So, this is their reality. I understand that. What I don’t understand is the assumption that this generation of students should not be required to write using formal standard English. There is value in looking like an intelligent individual: complete sentences with periods where they belong and the correct use of your (or you’re). If we don’t expect our children to write correctly, they can’t write cover letters to seek jobs or compose emails to teachers with questions. They will not be able to compete in our global network where a degree alone will not separate him or her from everyone else. Yes, I can spout off a grammar rule or identify the part of speech of every word in a sentence, but our students don’t have to do that. All they should be expected to do is write like they have a brain, a working intellect that knows they’ll look smarter if the comma is in the right place. Or, dare I say, use a semicolon; it’s not as hard as it looks. We must teach them correct grammar and standard usage, not just how to take a test.