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Illiteracy in the K-12 System: Assessing the Problem of Plummeting Reading Scores

A couple of weeks ago we kicked up a bit of a fuss with an online troll who seemed offended that we dared to point out on our blog that too many of our schools are using CRT to promote systemic racism. Facts have a tendency to disturb strident trolls these days. In part because the stats suggest that the status quo isn't working. (And these days Leftist trolls are mainly defenders of the establishment.)

At the MarinGOP we care more about kids and their futures than we do about the feelings of trolls. And so we thought we would take this moment to highlight a disturbing statistic. More than half the children with the misfortune of being enrolled in the California public K-12 system can't read at grade level.

We don't like to point out a problem without offering a potential solution. We truly believe that knowledge is power. (That is one of the main reasons we are so disturbed by the decline in the public education system. Our school system --which is dominated by proud Leftists-- seems to be actively dedicated to dumbing down the next generation of children by limiting their access to knowledge and their ability to learn basic skills. As Republicans we believe a solid education gives people the skills they need to function as adults and we think all children deserve access to a quality education. Unfortunately, these days our public education system can't even teach half the kids how to read.)

But we think parents --and grandparents-- need tools to assess the problem as well. In general very few parents are aware of what is really going on in the schools. We like to assume that things are alright. Zoomschool was a wake up call for a generation of parents.

But the reality is the NAEP --the "National Assessment of Educational Progress"-- scores should have offered us all a warning years ago. We didn't go from basically o.k. to "more than half the kids can't read at grade level" in one testing cycle. A few years ago 40% of the kids couldn't read at grade level. That wasn't good. But we let it slide.

We're tired of letting things slide anymore. So... we had a bright idea, maybe we should do our own home assessments to see how the kids are doing? Can your third grader read? Can your seventh grader read? Want to find out?

Can your second grader read this wordlist? Currently there is good information to suggest that somewhere between 17% and 19% of American high school seniors are functionally illiterate. This is a shocking statistic because, by this point, those "functionally illiterate" high school seniors have mainly already spent a decade in the public school system. Didn't anyone notice that the kids couldn't read when they were in third grade? Fourth grade? Fifth grade? Didn't anyone care? More likely people assumed everything was o.k.

Most people are unaware that our schools are now designed to pass kids from grade to grade while dumbing down the curriculum. Mountains of busy work haven't actually led to an increase in literacy. Yet parents often feel comforted by the sight of the children ploughing through piles of homework. We assume that if children have homework they are learning necessary skills. We shouldn't make assumptions like that. Ever. Instead... we should ask questions. And so we suggest this as a simple test. Do you have a second grader or a third grader at home? Ask them to read these words to you out loud. Every single word. In order. Top to bottom, left to right. You could do something really crazy and ask a high school student the same question. If the child can't read the words don't blame the kid. Blame the system that made this happen.

This is a simple phonics worksheet, nearly 70 years old, designed as a drill to help kids learn the correlation between letters and sounds. This is how kids used to learn how to read. Currently 52% of the kids enrolled in the California public school system can't read at grade level. This should not be o.k. with anyone. We have done better in the past. We can do better in the future. And if you have a child at home right now YOU can step in and do what the school system may be failing at. Consider this a diagnostics test. Don't blame a child in the school system for not being able to read. Blame the system. Blame everyone who didn't notice the kids weren't o.k. Knowledge is power. Assess how bad the problem is and then fix it.

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