Throwback Thursday: “Illiteracy in the USA: Why the Hell Can’t Johnny Read?” 4/11/2011

 

originally posted 4/11/2011

edumacation-300x237The charismatic man in the Armani suit stood at the podium and said, spoke about fixing the economy and creating jobs and ending war. And the people listened Then he spoke about education and proclaimed  “Education is the key to success!” And the crowd roared in agreement for most of them were functionally illiterate and wanted better for their children.” Realizing he had touched on a topic dear to them he continued,”It is the right of all individuals, the rich and poor alike, to receive a free and comprehensive education!”  And they roared even louder!  The candidate continued to sing the praises of education a few minutes longer then ended his speech with the declaration “We must educate the masses!” and the crowd rose to their feet and roared yet again.

As the cheering died away, and the men on the platform shook hands and patted one another on the back, the people turned and went their separate ways and all the fervor and enthusiasm went away with them, And the old man who had his hand raised for much of the speech was ignored to the end and he too walked slowly away. He had simply wanted to ask how it was to be done. How could the masses be successfully educated. Time passed and the election passed and the Armani man won! But nothing changed, nothing changed  at all… 

The call to educate the masses has been around for ages  and can be found in the history of the ancient Greeks and even in the Torah. The education of the masses has also long been a salient rallying point in most revolutions or working class movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. Progress was made in the area of education but as is the case today, the have’s were still much better educated than the have not‘s.

Across the country the American worker, the common laborer could ill afford to send their children to school, until the 1840’s most schools were private and required tuition, but even with the advent of free public schools, many of these working class families had to rely on the work of their children  to make ends meet. Farmers, ranchers and other trades needed their children to help with chores and bringing in crops or in caring for the animals. If the children were lucky they might attend Sunday school on occasion.

Yes, the education of the masses though an incredible concept, is not easily accomplished.Even in today’ 21st century technological society, there are more uneducated people than you may realize. When I talk about uneducated people I am referring to those people who are illiterate or function at a below normal range. So the problem isn’t about providing an education for the opportunity is there, no the problem is about learning. The masses cannot be educated unless they themselves want to be educated and it seems that they don’t.

Do you know that more than 15% of recent graduates of urban high schools read at less than a sixth grade level and more than a million of those can’t read above the third grade level.  Pretty sad wouldn’t you say. How about this one, a staggering 85% of juveniles who are arrested and brought before the courts are functionally illiterate. That means that their reading and writing skills are not good enough to manage a job or daily living that requires reading or writing skills beyond a basic level. That’s just not right.

Here’s one that blows me away! According to the The U.S. Department of Education 23 million American adults are totally or functionally illiterate. An additional 23 million function at a level which is marginal at best. Even now with  unemployment at an all time high would you believe that of 8 million unemployed adults, from 4 to 6 million of them lack the skills to be re-trained for hi-tech jobs.  This my friends is happening in America, the land of opportunity and public education. Can you believe it?

Illiteracy is our greatest curse. You can blame it on the school system, you can blame it on the teachers, they should shoulder some of the blame, but not all of it. A number of students who go to those school in those district with the God-awful test scores, still come away with an education. They go on to college and are successful. Several students who have suffered at the hands of piss poor teachers who can be found in even the best of schools  still find a way to learn and succeed.  So who should you really be blaming for the high illiteracy rate? the students that’s who, and the parents who fail to support them.

The school system is not responsible for your children’s failure. If you are the type o9f parent who believes the responsibility is all on the school and teachers you are to blame for your son or daughters failings. Educating a child is a collaborative effort. Schools and teachers provide the means, and direction and during the school day, but once they are at home you assume the responsibility. You must continue the effort to educate started in the classroom. Provide a designated learning space for your children, be there to answer questions and help when you can, don ‘t simply ask them if homework is done, physically look at it to make sure it’s done. And for god sake’s insist that they read. It doesn’t matter what they read, novels, comic books, sports magazines, gaming magazines anything will do! If you can have them read aloud.They can read to you, younger siblings or  even the dog will do. Good readers are better learners.

Most of all, hold your student accountable. If their grades are low turn off their TV or computer, take away their phones or ipods, keep them from seeing their friends and going out. These things are privileges not rights. They should be earned.

‘The successful student is one who has a support team consisting of teachers, parents counselors and administrators working together to ensure your student’s success.Parents must take responsibility and be a part of the team. The illiteracy rate is ridiculously out of control. The only way that is going to change is with your help. Parents need to form a partnership with schools and teachers and work together to change students attitudes about education. Communication is crucial.

Many of today’s student’s just don’t see the value of education and view the school day as a waste of time. This attitude has got to change. They’re tired, bored, and sick of school. Wait until they  go to work! Without an education they’ll hate their jobs as well. School is about learning. Teacher’s are there to educate. They are not entertainers, although some try to be to make a connection with students, that is not their role in your education. Their job is to provide you with learning opportunities and hopefully spark your interests. It doesn’t matter how much legislation is passed to help improve schools, If the government truly wants “No Child Left Behind” then they better find a way to motivate the students. Teacher requirements, testing and penalties is not the answer. “You can lead a horse to water, but you cant make them drink!”  Until student’s attitudes about education change nothing else will. Remember,  when it comes to education, “Attitude isn’t everything, it’s the only thing…”

Just saying,

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