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10.17 Scott Pruitt, Who Loved to Sue EPA, Just Made It Harder for Green Groups to Sue EPA

10.16 The war on coal is over. Coal lost.

10.15 Rooftop Solar Provides a Record-Breaking 48% of South Australia’s Power

10.14 Geoengineering is not a quick fix for climate change, experts warn Trump

10.13 The Grain That Tastes Like Wheat, but Grows Like a Prairie Grass

10.13 Climate Change Is Making It Harder to Grow Rice [might there be a “perennial rice” with much deeper roots to survive droughts?]

10.13 'If the land isn't worked, it decays': Tunisia's battle to keep the desert at bay [beautiful business plan for LIFE]

10.13 Trump scraps Obamacare subsidies in surprise late-night announcement [videos; his Infantilism should cause his impeachment]

10.12 Oxford aims for world’s first zero emissions zone with petrol car ban

10.12 Draughty homes targeted in UK climate change masterplan

News Media Matters

10.17 Malta car bomb kills Panama Papers journalist

10.15 The Establishment Still Doesn't Recognize The Political Revolution That's Happening [the question is, CAN MAINSTREAM NEWS MEDIA – desperate for corporate advertising as revenue falls – ALLOW CHANGE TO HAPPEN?]

10.14 A Silenced Israeli Critic

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

10.17 How Anti-Trump Psychiatrists Are Mobilizing Behind the Twenty-Fifth Amendment

10.17 McCain blasts 'half-baked, spurious nationalism' in emotional speech [video]

10.16 Nevada to Big Pharma: ‘Show Us Your Books!’

10.16 The Danger of President Pence

10.16 TRUMP’S WOULD-BE WEATHER CZAR TRIED TO SHUT DOWN FREE FORECASTS [The looting and corrupton is refreshingly open]

10.16 Here's the Democrat Who Just Announced His Challenge to Hawkish Feinstein

10.16 Singer Marc Anthony to Trump: You will be held Accountable for needless American Deaths in Puerto Rico

10.16 The Texas town where all the energy is green [Alert! Ignoring party leadership, exceptional Republicans use reason to do good!]

10.15 “It’s going to hurt everybody”: Nevada’s GOP governor rips Trump over ACA sabotage [Alert! Republicans aren't all bad!]

10.15 20 of America's top political scientists gathered to discuss our democracy. They're scared.

10.15 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee taken off Mississippi school reading list [teaching real history makes future citizens better and avoids racist hatred repeating—that's why Germans have taught real history since WWII]

10.15 ‘Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law’ [America is still a model country for racism and hate]

10.15 Multi-State Suit Targets Trump's "Reckless Assault" on Healthcare as Anger Flows [does our President have these traits?]

Justice Matters

10.17 Trump could remake judiciary for ‘40 years’ — with controversial picks [America will become more like Malta; facilitating corporate/mafia criminality to the maximum]

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.17 Trump Revives Notorious GOP Dog Whistle in Call for 'Welfare Reform' [less money "wasted on welfare" would allow larger tax cuts for "the more deserving rich"]

10.17 For Abandoning Climate Accord, Pope Swipes Trump on World Food Day [Trump is attuned to serve billionaire friends and himself]

10.14 KOCH BROTHERS’ INTERNAL STRATEGY MEMO ON SELLING TAX CUTS: IGNORE THE DEFICIT

10.14 How to Wipe Out Puerto Rico’s Debt Without Hurting Bondholders

10.12 IMF: higher taxes for rich will cut inequality without hitting growth

10.12 Fossil fuels win billions in public money after Paris climate deal, angry campaigners claim [fossil fuel companies will declare bankruptcy when (not if) fossil fuels become worthless, so it will then be the public's money that is lost, without recourse]

10.11 Special Investigation: How America’s Biggest Bank Paid Its Fine for the 2008 Mortgage Crisis — With Phony Mortgages!

10.08 How Billionaires Become Billionaires

International & Futurism

10.17 For Abandoning Climate Accord, Pope Swipes Trump on World Food Day [Trump is attuned to serve billionaire cronies and himself]

10.17 The Movement of #MeToo

10.16 How Trump’s Foreign Policy Mood Swings made US a Rogue State

10.16 In Absence of US Leadership, War Breaks out between Kurds and Baghdad

10.15 AI WEIWEI EXPLORES THE “HUMAN FLOW” OF REFUGEES AND FINDS AN AMERICA THAT LOST ITS CONSCIENCE

10.15 Genes for Skin Color Rebut Dated Notions of Race, Researchers Say

10.15 Toyota’s Trucks That Only Emit Water Vapor Are Moving Goods in LA

10.15 Tony Blair: ‘We were wrong to boycott Hamas after its election win’ [guiding principle #1: do not cause harm to civilian populations]

10.15 Margaret Atwood: Rise of Trump Brings Echoes of 1930s Europe

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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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