Is Reading Still Fundamental


Recently, I read a story in the Detroit Free Press about a former DPS student who graduated from high school a few years ago and she was unable to read. This product of the Detroit Public Schools system is one of many with the inability to read or write yet they’re passed through grade by grade till they graduate and kicked out of the building. Lacking the ability to read or write can only lead to one thing: a life of misery. The young woman mentioned in the Free Press story has taken control of her destiny and decided that she wants to learn how to read. Prior to her awakening, this young woman spent every day living in a void that has sucked in many of our youth. The void is inhabited by young and old unable to read the simplest of things such as a restaurant menu. To allow defenseless children to enter the void is a crime and yet children are still running towards the void destined to be lost to us. This young woman as well as millions of other children is victims of the system created to educate them.

Growing up in Detroit back in the 70’s and the 80’s, I know that the school system was not perfect but the materials were there and the teachers cared. The elementary school that I attended was all about reading. My fourth-grade teacher made the class give book reports every week. She yelled at me because I was writing my “m’s” to look like “n’s.” She cared about her students. I lived down the street from the local library. The library would have reading clubs to get kids involved to read. I had two parents who got mad when I didn’t take school seriously and I had my peers. What happened? Did our society become so sadistic that we stopped caring about educating our children?

A child in America needs four parties to help in their education.

1) Parents

2) School

3) Peers

4) Insert name here

Parents need to push their children down that road, to want to learn. Children are instinctively lazy. A parent’s role is to create the building blocks for a child’s education. Reading books, watching educational children shows, teaching basic things like learning their ABC’s are needed to give the child some idea of learning, to remember.

Schools offer structure. A child cannot go from A to Z unless they lean the letters in-between. That is why we have a grade system in the schools. Teachers are needed to elevate the student to want to go further.

It’s a fact of life that some kids grow up faster than other and kids will learn from other kids. This is why dealing with your peers is essential to your education because we need to be schooled by those we respect and who is better than our friends.

The last party is you or “insert name here.” Parents and schooling can give the child the tools and ability to educate themselves but the child must push themselves to want to learn. With tools like the library, the internet, tutors a child can acquire a great deal of knowledge. All it requires is the drive and the want to know.

The young woman mention in the Free Press story had none of these things. Everyone failed this child and now she has to start from point A as a young adult. I hope only for the best for her because her future could have been different if others simply would have cared.

Through the grace of GOD, I was blessed with the ability to read at a very young age. As a kid, I read a dictionary to learn the meaning of words, I read the newspaper, I read Encyclopedia Brown, I read The Electric Company, and I read biographies, science-fiction, historical anything that was of interest. To impress her friends, my aunt would have me reading books or newspapers with “big” words. Words that a little boy would have no idea how to pronounce them much less read them out-loud, but that was me. Those who suffer illiteracy are living a hell on earth. Books help stoke imagination and without imagination, life can be pretty flat. Illiteracy means that they will always depend on someone else to get them by. Parents should be ashamed that their children are living each day with a handicap that was not of their doing. Public Schools systems like Detroit should be humiliated that any student could go through the system and prove that it is broken.

In Detroit, efforts been made to discuss the question of literacy that plagues the Detroit Public School system. After the emergency finance manager issued the call for volunteers to read to DPS youth, to aid them as they improve their reading skills, thousands signed up to volunteer their time to help a child. After the story came out about the young woman getting social promotions though she could not read, the emergency finance manager has ended that process. Ending social promotions mean that kids will no longer get a free pass to goof off. It is pass or fail. Parents are on notice. No longer will your child be carried by the system. Parents will have to get involved to motivate their children or live with the shame of your child’s failure. This is a start but we have more communities with failing school systems just like Detroit that allows the children of tomorrow to face a future where they will have no opportunity to take part. Politicians will use that tired-out line how we are going to leave grandchildren with debt yet we are also leaving them with failing school systems rigged to continue producing failing children. The only war the United States needs to be fighting is the war on illiteracy.


~ by R8RBOB on February 15, 2010.

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