"Only one-third of American students are reading up to age level," Nancy was relating to me from an article in the Kansas City Star. I felt a blog coming on.
I think we've all known this fact in general to be true for a long time. And, it is no secret there is a growing disparity in achievement levels between the (educated) haves and (under-educated) have-nots. Media outlets looking for quick, easy answers blame teachers, schools, school boards, politicians while side-stepping a crucial factor. It's also very much a home problem. Unquestionably, there are a few bad teachers out there and some schools that are poorly run, maintained, or equipped - but I wager those numbers are dwarfed by the enormity of the home problem.
If all students came to the classroom ready to learn - with a good attitude and preparation, well-rested and nourished, we would see enormous strides in reading achievement. And it would not matter how old or decrepit the school building is, or how inexperienced the teacher. Attitude and preparation? By that, I refer to parental encouragement, to the child developing an understanding from parent(s) that schooling is crucial to their hopes for a brighter tomorrow, that teachers are the good guys - not adversaries. One last comment, one that is heard frequently but worth repeating ~ children need to be read to, beginning at a very early age. Period. Not only for developing cognitive learning skills and curiosity, but for child/adult bonding.
My family used to be a Chrysler family. Back to the days when Dodge was the "farmer's car." (The photo at right is of my Grandfather Hackney's 1926 Dodge.) I've had a number of Chrysler products in the past but at present we own two so-called imports - vehicles with non US nameplates but assembled in America using components from all over the world, including our own country.
Not too long ago, while looking at full page ad for Chrysler products; I saw that none shown fit our needs and budget. Then more recently I read an analytical report asserting that four of the country's five most over-priced vehicles are Chrysler products. I'm beginning to wonder why the US government, then Fiat, would throw good money after bad. Fiat better have some darn good ideas, and much more reliable products than the Fiat I owned in the early 70s!
Smoking is stupid. It's expensive. It's deathly unhealthy. It's smelly and annoying. Expensive plus unhealthy plus smelly and annoying equals stupid. OK, we should all have the right to do stupid things. But not at the expense of my health and my pocketbook.
I recently followed what a favorite columnist labeled a "social capital experiment" with great interest, and with admiration for all those who took part. It took place in the tiny town of Whiting, Kansas. Cheryl Unruh's Flyover People column in the Emporia Gazette reported on it quite nicely: http://www.flyoverpeople.net/news/index.php/archive/we-kan-and-we-are/. Obviously this experiment is far from a Marxist-Leninist brand of socialism. If, however, these selfless, community building efforts equate to socialism of any kind at all, I am for it. Bring it on, - and just imagine the effects of thousands people working and sweating together to rebuild their towns and cities without waiting for big government to do it for them!
For the first time in years, maybe even forever, we planted old-fashioned, full-sized zinnias in a flower bed (the one just outside our kitchen to patio sliding door). They are gorgeous, and so colorful - and for the first time in recent memory we have goldfinches visiting us! What a delight to look up from my bowl of breakfast cereal to that view! Why didn't we do that before?