It is a mystery why all the politicians, pundits, reporters and law enforcement ignore the fact that institutionalized reading failure has locked Black citizens out of the middle class for decades. Strict compulsory attendance laws prevent escape. Note in the above illustration, just 13 % of Black Missouri fourth graders score at the proficient level or above on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress for reading. In Nebraska, that number is just 16%. Worse, the school district Michael Brown attended was unaccredited -but later accredited only as a state oversight school. (link)
Doubling down on a slave-era law, Black Americans are not being taught how to read. In Missouri, Nebraska and across this nation, Black Americans are left behind. There is nothing wrong with, or different about, the innate ability of Black Americans to learn how to read if taught effectively with phonics, and only phonics, first. (Reading in the Brain, Dehaene 2009) The range in IQ or innate ability is the same throughout the population, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic factors. (The Rising Curve, American Psychological Association 1998) Research published 10/6/14 “Nature trumps nurture for academics” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, adds the importance of personality and individual traits, such as persistence and belief in one’s power, to educational attainment. (Melissa Healy, LA Times, Lincoln Journal Star 10-8-14) Color-based expectations are racist, not based on science and purely ideological.
Imagine daily life in the United States on the functional- illiterate level. Imagine that everyone in your community is struggling with the same issues. If you couldn’t read well as a sixth grader, would you accept the blame for that deficiency? Would you believe you have no way to create a decent, independent life for yourself or to head a family? What does your future look like? Where is the way out of this despair? If you have not been taught how to read, you are finished before you start. There is no way out. Would you resent others who are able to create a life of their own through educational attainment? “It’s almost like being part of a family where you are forever outside of the house….You wonder: are we ever going to be treated as equals in this country? We’re not asking for much, Just to be treated as citizens. That’s it.” Kevin Powell, Ferguson. (Jesse Washington, Associated Press, LJS 11/26/14)
A population with poor reading skills is dependent upon others, particularly government, to meet their daily needs. Dependents are loyal to those who take care of them and can be easily manipulated. Black Americans have steadily lost ground as schools have focused on ‘diversity’, ‘multiculturalism’ and a whole host of individual differences while ignoring mastery of reading and math in the earliest grades. Absent that solid foundation necessary for higher-level learning, children are robbed of their future.
Today we witness the government-dependent population increase as the economy falters. Potential Gross Domestic Product depends not only on the number of hours of work but also labor productivity or output per hour of work. For the 4 years 2010-2013, labor productivity has fallen to 0.7% from the United States’ 143-year average of 2.3%. It is a mystery why it is so low or how fast it will grow. (Alan S. Blinder, Wall Street Journal 11/25/14) A well-educated population is the driver necessary for innovation and small business creation.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon this month created the Ferguson Commission to address issues of inequality in the state. Policy recommendations are due by September 15, 2015. No need to wait. Today I can recommend Missouri adopt the new, free, educational model being built in Omaha, Nebraska. The Nelson Mandela Elementary School, funded by the Lozier Foundation, will offer phonics-focused Spalding Method for reading and rigorous Singapore Math curriculum. (Julie Anderson, Omaha World Herald 11/14/14) Student learning and achievement are the keys to reaching a person’s greatest potential.