(Don’t have time to read through the hundreds of education-related blogs? NSBA Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy brings you the “must-reads” in his weekly round-up, “The Week in Blogs,” now appearing on School Board News Today. Laugh out loud and learn something new each Friday.)
If you can’t read, you can’t learn. That statement might seem obvious.
Yet in the United States, according Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash), there are some 8 million students in grades four though 12 who are reading below grade level, according to this video on the Alliance for Excellent Education’s blog. At this time in their schooling that is, beyond third grade they should have moved from a “learning-to-read” mode to one sometimes called “reading to learn.” And the fact that they have not reach this point, or have only partially reached it, means they will have trouble keeping up with their peers, graduating from high school, and succeeding in life.
Murray, who received NSBA’s Special Recognition Award last month, is introducing the Literacy Education for All Results for the Nation, dubbed the LEARN Act, which would authorize $2.35 billion in federal support for literacy programs spanning birth through age 12.
If that seems like a hefty sum, consider these next two items: As Joanne Jacobs notes in her blog, a new study shows that almost half the adults in Detroit, or 47 percent, are functionally illiterate.
The second related item? According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, the U.S. spent $3.6 billion on remedial courses for students enrolled in two- or four-year colleges during the 2007-08 school year. The Alliance calculated the subsequent costs to these students who are more likely to drop out of college to $2 billion in lost earnings over their lifetimes. The title of its report says it all: “Saving Now and Saving Later: How High School Reform Can Reduce the Nation’s Wasted Remedial Education Dollars.
On a lighter note, read Slate‘s rebuttal to economist Donald J. Boudreaux’s bizarre “thought experiment” in The Wall Street Journal regarding the supposed benefits of free enterprise schooling: “Supposed that groceries were supplied in the same way as K-12 education? ” he asks. “What would happen?”
“In poor counties the quality of public supermarkets would be downright abysmal,” Boudreaux writes. “Poor people entitled in principal to excellent supermarkets would in fact suffer unusually poor supermarket quality.”
Five seconds to spot what’s wrong with that sentence. Time’s up. But helpfully, Slate has offered a map showing surprise! the poor already suffer from poor choices when it comes to shopping for healthy food. Boudreaux’s analogy sort of goes downhill from there. (Thanks to This Week in Education for pointing us to the Slate piece.)
Finally, read Joanne Jacobs again on a report showing that civic knowledge climbed for fourth graders but dropped at the 12th grade level.