* One-Third Can’t Read

one thirdMaybe a bit less.  Maybe even more.  As we approach the November elections, these “One Third Can’t Read” signs are popping up across the Triangle area (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill in North Carolina).  Who is putting up these signs?  Is it true?  The Bootstraps PAC is a local group concerned about the miserable reading performance of economically disadvantaged children.  Here are two snippets from their stats section.  This first clip compares those who failed to read at third grade in three districts and what percentage are poor kids.  In case you can’t tell, 68% to 71% of kids failing the test are economically disadvantaged.one third 2The following snippet shows the percent of kids who failed the 3rd through 8th grade reading tests and the percent of those who are poor.  Same pattern as above.  Check out the resource-rich Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system’s achievement gap.  We are talking about racially predictable test scores, folks.

one third 3

Literacy is a vital door to future economic success, but our poorest students are left behind.  Do we really believe all kids can learn to read?  Do we provide the kind of reading instruction that does not penalize kids with relatively weaker language skills?  Are we willing to mentor kids?  Are we willing to volunteer?  

4 thoughts on “* One-Third Can’t Read

  1. I know the context may be different in my country. But most people in Bolivia (native people) don’t have Spanish as a first language and used to be left behind in their reading performance. Now, the new educational system encourages them to learn to read first in their native languages, and then Spanish is introduced. According to what I’ve heard, performance has improved drastically.
    I’m thinking that probably many economical disadvantaged kids in the US are in a category where English is not exactly their native language.

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    • Yes, the two groups with the most kids at the poverty level are blacks and Hispanics. It’s true that some Hispanic kids are struggling due to English as their second language, but many of these kids do speak English. Both groups of kids are much more likely to live in poverty than whites and Asians.

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    • In January, 2014, the UN reported that 250 million children worldwide (out of 650 million) were illiterate. Two-thirds of the girls in Arab states and sub-Saharan Africa are not EVER expected to go to school. More children than ever are actually in school but have unqualified teachers. And the reasons for not having qualified teachers are so complex.

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