Literacy rates continue to plummet in America and everyone tries to point the finger of blame at someone else. Lazy parents believe that reading is a subject at school and the responsibility of the teacher. Teachers want to blame politicians for cutting education and union busting. Politicians want to blame teacher tenure and lazy parents. Such has become the American way of life; blame someone else for the literacy status quo of our children.
Could it be that we are all to blame for the literacy problems of children in America? Could it be that America has become such a fast food nation where the only thing that matters in life is the latest gadget habit Smartphone craze and our bottom line profits of corporate shareholders? The real truth of the child literacy debate is that reading is an activity that begins at home! While this might seem like the opinion of this writer, the National Education Association tells us otherwise.
Twenty-six percent of children between the ages of three and five, who were read to at least three or four times in the last week by a family member, recognized all letters of the alphabet. This is compared to 14 percent of children who were read to less frequently. This statistical conclusion seems simple enough; children who are read to at home will enjoy a higher success rate in school than those who aren’t read to. One would think a statistic such as this would cause a reading revolution in American households. One would also think that a statistic such as this would be the leading story of every major media outlet across the country.
Sadly, it is not. America is so busy Dancing With The Stars to become the next American Idol with The Voice of The Biggest Loser who demands an Extreme Home Makeover, we have become a society of watchers and not readers. At one point in history, America was known for its reading prowess and the quality of our educational system. Students from every corner of the world would do just about anything to receive an education in America. While this remains to be true for the collegiate level of the American educational system, our primary schools continue to fail miserably.
In his controversial hit documentary film Waiting For Superman, Davis Guggenheim showed us that American students now rank 25th in math and 21st in science compared to students in 30 industrialized countries. On average, only 58 percent of high school students in America’s 50 largest cities make it to commencement.
Some want to point the finger of the child literacy problem in America towards teacher tenure, union contracts, and our lazy American way of life where DVD’s and television sets are the babysitters of today. Perhaps it is time for us to blame the math and science teachers for the staggering failures of our children. Or, better yet, maybe it is time for America to wake up to a new reality: if a student can’t read the directions on a math or science exam, how can we expect them to excel, let alone graduate? If a student can’t read a job application or even write their own resume, how can we expect them to find a job?
While it might be easier to blame someone else for the child literacy problems in America, maybe it is time for us to get together as a country and change the future of our children…today. Maybe it is time for America to turn off the ‘un-reality’ of our network television programming and dive into the pages of a book with our children. Maybe that time is now. Read on, America! Read on.
Eric DelaBarre is an award-winning filmmaker and the author of the ‘Tween’ adventure novel, SALTWATER TAFFY, which is endorsed by 9 Teachers of the Year. Copyright © June 23, 2011. All Rights Reserved
Image courtesy of sean dreilinger. Copyright © 2007