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Empowering Educators for 21st Century Teaching & Learning

Urban EDU Coach

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Johnny can't read, still

Posted on May 21, 2013 at 11:17 PM
Over the years we have spent too much time talking about the problem. We have raised valid issues regarding the fact that many students can't read. We have talked about why they can't read. Entire school districts have bought expensive programs and materials that were supposed be the answer. 

In 1964, John Holt became a prominent educator when he pointed the finger at the system because "Johnny" could read. He wrote a book called, "How Children Fail" detailing reasons why our kids fail. Then he tried to answer the question in which he posed, "Why can't Johnny Read". He toured the country being invited to talk shows, universities, churches, talk shows, and game shows. Finally, he decided that the system was what was the powers that be wanted it to be, so he wrote a third book called, Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better, whose conclusion called for a "Children's Underground Railroad" to help children escape compulsory schooling. 

His quest began in 1964 and ended in 1976 when he began a newsletter for parents who wanted to teach their children at home. Thus, began the contemporary home school movement. In 1976, he published Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better, whose conclusion called for a "Children's Underground Railroad" to help children escape compulsory schooling. 

Today, 1 in 4 American children still can't read.  That means that 6 out of every 24 high school students can't read.  They are not literate and cannot function adequately in society.  It is 2013. How many years ago since 1964, when educator John Holt first began his screaming and hollering? By 1979 he was burnt.  He then made his life simple and  learned to do something he wanted to do all his life, play the cello.  Still wanting to write, he wrote a book about it called, Never Too Late: My Musical Life Story.  He died in obscuring in 1985 still, advocating for the education of the young people in American, especially the poor ones, realizing that, the system is what the system wants the system to be.  

Illiteracy is passed down from parents who can neither read nor write; it is learned.  More than 80%  of juveniles who are  in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.  This proves that illiteracy and crime are closely linked.   Teenage girls between the ages 16 to 19 who  have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to get pregnant than girls their age who can read proficiently.  75% of Americans who receive food stamps are not proficient in reading and literacy while at the same time, 90% of high school dropouts are on welfare.

Consequently,  in 2013, Johnny still can't read. Now we have several more  problems. In addition to the fact that many adolescent youths still can’t read, in almost every classroom there are 6-7 students in middle school and high school who are not literate.  According to Common Core State Standards,  every K-12 teacher is now a Reading instructor, even those who teach Math. The purpose is to create an army of reading specialists to attack the literacy problem that haunts our students and prohibits them from being successful. Most teachers don’t know how to teach reading. They haven’t been given the tools they need.

I won't mention names, but an urban High School  in an urban district  has 300+ seniors in the class of 2013.   Only 56 students out of the 300 are eligible for graduation.  To add insult to injury, the school administration are allowing those 56 students who are eligible for graduation to put on a cap and gown to walk across that stage to receive a diploma, 20 tickets so that the audience is filled and the school looks good.  This is an atrocity!

Schools in urban areas are closing in droves because of funding cuts.  Children who attend these schools are being sent to schools out of their districts.  Kids are being forced to cross gang turfs putting them in danger.  So then, what do we do to fix the problem?  What is the solution?   Urban Edu Coach has one solution;  Every Teacher is Reading Teacher Literacy Series.  We travel to where you are,  upon request.  Consider us for your professional development needs.  


Categories: Adult Literacy, Education, Blended Learning, Web 2.0 Technology, Professional Development, Literacy for high school students, Web 2.0 Tools for the classroom

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