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05.22 The entire health care industry is panicking that Trump is about to blow up Obamacare

05.22 Air pollution linked to poor sleep, study finds

05.22 Trump's Fox News deputy national security advisor fooled him with climate fake news

05.21 Canada eases steps to open supervised drug injection sites amid opioid crisis

05.21 Canada First Nations reserve bars outsiders amid opioid crisis

05.20 Global Study Shows Americans Dying from Preventable Causes at Shocking Rates [“What a country!” —Yakov Smirnoff]

05.20 China claims breakthrough in mining 'flammable ice' [might greater release of methane to our atmosphere become a larger problem?]

05.20 ETP Spills Two Million Gallons of Drilling Material in Ohio

05.20 Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts

05.19 How Australia can use hydrogen to export its solar power around the world

05.19 Dirty diesel: why ships are the worst offenders

05.18 A new book ranks the top 100 solutions to climate change. The results are surprising.

05.18 Trump Wants to Cut Energy Dept's Renewables Budget. Big Time. [“Stupid is as stupid does.” – Forrest Gump.]

05.18 The older the doctor, the higher the patient mortality rate, study finds

05.18 Pesticide that Trump's EPA refused to ban blamed for sickening farm workers [fact-free 'emotional' government can have very high costs. this is a warning to change conduct before its too late.]

05.18 'The pill mill of America': where drugs mean there are no good choices, only less awful ones [governments must unleash research hospitals and pharmeceutical companies to design and manufacture safer and non-addictive recreational drugs to stop illegal drug trade's crime's social, health and prison costs]

05.18 Product designers 'must reduce Pringles factor' to boost recycling

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Daily: FAIR Blog
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US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

05.21 Nurses heckle Democratic leader, threaten legislators over health care [videos]

05.21 The small Texas city fighting to remain a ‘safe haven’ for immigrants [morally right & courageous]

05.20 Don’t Fear President Pence, Liberals. Welcome Him.

05.20 The degree of self-sabotage in the Trump White House is staggering

05.20 Billionaire Betsy DeVos wants to scrap student debt forgiveness. Surprised?

05.20 Comey to testify as more revelations pile pressure on Donald Trump

Justice Matters

05.20 WILL ROBERT MUELLER EXPLORE TRUMP’S RUSSIAN BUSINESS TIES?

05.19 The Feds Had Been Moving Away From Mass Incarceration For Years. Then Jeff Sessions Came Along. [stay tuned]

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

05.20 Americans Are Paying $38 to Collect $1 of Student Debt

05.20 The Malta Files: How the smallest EU country became a haven for global tax avoidance [why can't we play nice together?]

05.19 America's geography of wealth: the shrinking urban middle class visualised [animated bar chart] [tens of millions of families are living in increasing financial stress–Hillary ignored it and Trump made alt-promises (a.k.a.: lies)]

05.19 'Orwellian' and 'Bizarre': Warren Skewers Mnuchin for Doublespeak on Breaking Up Banks [4:45 video]

International

05.22 Revealed: Facebook's internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence

05.22 Big game hunter is crushed to death when an elephant he was hunting in Zimbabwe is shot and falls on top of him [a fitting death to an elephant killer]

05.22 Tensions rise as Uganda refugee policy is pushed to breaking point

05.22 Outnumbering refugees two to one: how the world ignores war's greatest scandal

05.22 Kashmir conflict shifts with top militant vowing fight is for an Islamic state

05.21 UK needs more immigrants to 'avoid Brexit catastrophe' [who benefits from bad "conservative" policy?]

05.21 THE LIGHTS ARE GOING OUT IN THE MIDDLE EAST [we suggest enticing a solar panel and battery manufacturers to locate in your countries to diversify economies and create jobs. use solar to empower yourselves...]

05.21 Rouhani’s victory is good news for Iran, but bad news for Trump and his Sunni allies

05.21 Budget analysis shows some Australian women hit with effective marginal tax rates of 100% ["conservatives" are cruel to the poor and desperate everywhere, to protect themselves from higher taxes]

05.21 Venezuela: 50th day of protests brings central Caracas to a standstill [who does interventions for countries? could the UN help more?]

05.21 Brexit and the coming food crisis: ‘If you can’t feed a country, you haven’t got a country’ [fear-based nationalism will become a costly problem]

05.21 Massimo Bottura and his global movement to feed the hungry

05.20 Let’s Skip the War Part—and Go Right to Reparations [powerful writing!]

05.20 Iran: Hassan Rouhani wins landslide in huge victory for reformists

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  It Takes Government to Create a Reading Crisis

COMMENTARY:

It Takes Government to Create a Reading Crisis

by Sheldon Richman
Despite what the state's teachers and experts might imply, learning to read is not that difficult. Children used to teach themselves with only light guidance from a parent. It takes a government to create a national reading crisis.
When Horace Mann and his colleagues launched the public-school movement some 175 years ago, they made extravagant promises. Turn the education of children over to enlightened altruistic experts working under government auspices, they said, and illiteracy, vice, and crime will become things of the past.

I'm not kidding.

Most people don't know about these promises, so they don't know how badly the government's schools have failed by their own standards. Apologists for state schooling often defend their abysmal record by saying that no one should expect the government's teachers and administrators to efficiently educate children who bring all of society's problems with them to the classroom. But that's what the founders of what used to be called the "common school" pledged.

The broken promises continue. The schools have a hard time teaching reading. Consider the U.S. Department of Education's latest literacy figures. The department's press release began thus: "American adults can read a newspaper or magazine about as well as they could a decade ago, but have made significant strides in performing literacy tasks that involve computation, according to the first national study of adult literacy since 1992." Of course, this raises the question of how well adults could read a newspaper or magazine a decade ago. Therein lies the tale.

The department defines literacy as "using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one's goals, and to develop one's knowledge and potential." Now let's look at what percentage of high-school graduates, college graduates, and graduate-school students and degree-holders qualified as "proficient" in the three kinds of tasks used in the study. The three tasks are "prose," able to perform tasks using continuous texts; "document," able to perform tasks using noncontinuous texts in different formats; and "quantitative," able to do computations with numbers embedded in printed material. "Proficiency" is defined as having the "skills necessary to perform more complex and challenging literacy activities."

According to the study, in 1992, 5.3 percent of the high-school graduates tested were proficient in the three kinds of tasks. In the latest study (2003) this percentage dropped to 4.6.

For college graduates the percentages were 36 in 1992 and 29 in 2003.

For graduate students or holders of graduate degrees, the percentage went from 45 to 36.

When the three kinds of tasks are broken down, we find no improvement in the ten years. The best that can be said is that in a couple of categories, the results were unchanged.

Results were slightly different for changes in the "intermediate" literacy category, defined as having skills to perform "moderately challenging literacy activities." The percentage of high-school graduates in this category declined slightly from 44 to 42 in the ten years. For college graduates and graduate-level students, there were increases, from 48 to 53 for the former category and from 45 to 50 for the latter.

When you look at the percentages in the basic literacy and below-basic categories for high-school and college graduates and graduate-level students, the results are downright depressing. In many cases the ranks of these categories have grown; in others they improved a little or stayed the same.

This is hardly a ringing endorsement of government schooling. Despite what the state's teachers and experts might imply, learning to read is not that difficult. Children used to teach themselves with only light guidance from a parent. It takes a government to create a national reading crisis.

These results will undoubtedly be used to justify more government spending on education. President Bush is proposing more than a $100 million to promote education in foreign languages--in the name of fighting terrorism. (Oh, please!) It is time we stopped being fooled by the people who are responsible for the education mess. As if we needed more evidence, this latest study shows that it's time to separate school and state.


Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation (fff.org) in Fairfax, Va., author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and editor of The Freeman magazine.


Copyright © 2006 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on January 12, 2006.

 

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