Lost in the noise

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Government leaders such as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan talk about the need for all of America’s kids to go to college. They are grabbing the horse by wrong end, most likely because they are most familiar with that end.

“No, wrong,” I’d like to tell them. “America’s kids all need to learn to read. If we give them that, they will be able to go to college should they choose to do so.”

College is a pipe dream for any graduate who can’t read, and potentially a useless and disastrously costly dream as well.

Eduhonesty: Whether Arne likes it or not, we have lots of graduates who can’t read and/or who can’t add fractions. I’ve watched these kids try to sound out words. I spent one half-year teaching math to sixteen-year-old kids who couldn’t handle fractions, decimals and exponents before I blessedly got back to middle school.

We shouldn’t have these graduates — but we do. Forget teaching incomprehensibly complex problem-solving skills and the Common Core. Let’s teach reading and mathematics to the illiterate and innumerate instead.

I afraid I am beginning to sound like a broken record when I write this but we keep battling and debating so many issues in education that we lose track of reading. This issue dwarfs them all. We can’t let this issue wait.