“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the
man who can’t read them.”
~ Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)
I was talking to a colleague last night. We discussed a topic that slips away in all the noise, the cacophony of voices trying to raise America’s test scores.
Al fin y al cabo, at the end of the day, educational success comes down to reading. Can you read? If you can’t, you can’t succeed. Period. If you can read, you may succeed. Behavioral issues can prevent readers from doing well in school. Even then, though, some of those readers come back from their educational graveyards, recovering from the 1.25 cumulative average on their high school report cards. Our success stories who go back to community colleges after a few years flipping burgers? They manage to clamber up the educational success ladder because, at the end of the day, they can read their text books and they finally understand the value in reading those books.
Eduhonesty: We are implementing so many interventions everywhere in our lower-scoring schools. The interventions we need have names like System 44 and Read 180. If a student can’t read by middle school, that student ought to be pulled out of all regular courses except mathematics and gym — they don’t get nearly enough exercise now — and put into classes designed to teach reading. If we give our students the gift of reading, they will be able to find all the content they want for themselves. If we give them content without reading skills, most of that content will fade into the mists of time, irretrievable once the teachers are gone.