Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Monday, February 16, 2015

Schools Don’t Teach Kids to Read

Rosemount High School in Minnesota is widely considered to be a great school. The Minnesota Department of Education says it is “top ranked.” The U.S. Department of Education gave it the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award. Even Newsweek Magazine listed Rosemount as a top school last year. Those honors stand in sharp contrast to the information given in a letter to the editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. That school’s English teacher wrote that her students cannot read! When she assigns books, the kids dismiss them as boring and don’t even bother with them. Some students sleep in class; some react with anger or depression.

After hearing these stories about high school juniors, it becomes easy to agree with her letter’s assessment that we are in “one of the greatest literary crises ever encountered.” That teacher is on the front lines, and she says it’s really an uphill battle every day. The schools are using the wrong tactics if they want to solve the illiteracy problem. The problem starts in the first grade where kids are not taught to sound out words, but only taught to memorize a few dozen one-syllable words they can recognize by sight and remember. Much of the time they guess at the words from the pictures on the page. As they grow older, students are increasingly handicapped by being unable to read new material. Forget about reading the classics of English literature. It’s no wonder that American students rank poorly on international tests.

The greatest injustice America has done to poor and minority kids is to keep them years in school but never teach them how to read. You have to be able to read in order to live the American dream.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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