As it turns out, about half of the adult population in Detroit is functionally illiterate. Almost HALF. That is a staggering number.
How in the sam hill can that possibly be? I am serious - how in the world, in the United States of America, can this be? Here are just some of the issues they face:
“The National Institute for Literacy estimates that 47% of adults (more than 200,000 individuals) in the City of Detroit are functionally illiterate, referring to the inability of an individual to use reading, speaking, writing, and computational skills in everyday life situations,” a report from the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund reads.
Karen Tyler-Ruiz, the Fund’s director, explained the difficulties this presents to the average illiterate.
“Not able to fill out basic forms, for getting a job — those types of basic everyday [things]. Reading a prescription; what’s on the bottle, how many you should take…just your basic everyday tasks,” she said. “I don’t really know how they get by, but they do. Are they getting by well? Well, that’s another question,” she told WWJ Newsradio 950. [snip]
Uh, yeah - not being able to fill out basic forms is a bit of a problem.
Who is to blame for this deplorable condition? Well, depending upon whom you ask, it is either the teachers' union, or the city. Let's start with the union:
In a town where unions rule, some have pointed to the teachers’ union as a possible reason for the city’s high illiteracy rate.
Andrew J. Coulson, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, told The Daily Caller that the teachers’ union monopoly has contributed to much of the educational deterioration in the city.
“Apparently [the school system is] not learning that the cause of the problem is the monopoly because they would have gotten rid of it by now. That is the big message from this report, [it] is not what this particular organization is doing to try to alleviate the problem,” Coulson told TheDC. “What they need to do is get rid of the monopoly.”
According to Coulson’s calculations, Detroit spent $15,945 per pupil for the 2010-2011 school year. By comparison, the average per pupil expenditure during the 2007-2008 school year nationally was $10,259.
It is embarrassing as hell for a city, and its teachers, to have this result, especially since they pay over a THIRD more per student in Detroit than the national average. Sounds to me like they are not getting their money's worth there. Ahem. Wow.
Who do the teachers blame? The city:
The Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT), however, is adamant that the problem actually lies with the city’s failure to effectively enforce school attendance.
“I don’t think that that the teachers’ union has a responsibility for making sure that adults can read,” DFT president Keith Johnson told TheDC.
“I think the unfairness of the criticism [against the union] comes from the fact that there is a direct correlation between student attendance and student performance,” Johnson added. “During the 2008-2009 school year, the average Detroit school student — you ready for this — missed 46 days of school. That was on average. There were 10 percent of our students that missed 100 days or more. It may shock you to know that Detroit public schools do not have an attendance standard.”
According to Detroit’s attendance policy statement in their “Orientation Kit,” students are expected to attend 92 percent of classes, or miss no more than 14 days annually. Johnson believes there have to be harsher consequences for those who miss significantly more days.
Uh huh. Okay. Well, there may be some truth in that since students do need to be there.
But there's one more group who deserves some blame:
Some say the responsibility for the absentee epidemic falls at the feet of parents who fail to supervise their children. Richard Rivers, a counselor at Cody’s Academy of Critical Thinkers and Medicine and Community Health, said that the best way to fix the literary problem is to get parents involved.
“I talk to truants all the time, and I call their parents,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “I do believe that truancy can be prevented when parents are working with me to get the students to school every day and on time.” [snip] (Click here to read the rest.)
Indeed, parents must be active participants in the education of their children, especially when it is something so basic, so necessary, as literacy.
It sounds to me like there is plenty of blame to go around. The citizens of Detroit are certainly not getting their money's worth, not with this outcome. Whatever the truancy policy is, it sounds like it might use some revamping. And parents need to get involved with their own children and what they are learning (or not). Regardless of with whom the lion's share of blame lies, something needs to change, and now.
Speaking of reading, I just have to quickly share this article with you. My aunt sent it to me yesterday, and I just could not believe my eyes. Here is the headline: ‘Burn a Bush’? Michelle Obama Invites Rapper Common To A Poetry Reading.
Say wha? Oh, yes:
[snip] First Lady Michelle Obama has scheduled a poetry evening for Wednesday, and she’s invited several poets, including a successful Chicago poet and rapper, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., AKA “Common.” However, Lynn is quite controversial, in part because his poetry includes threats to shoot police and at least one passage calling for the “burn[ing]” of then-President George W. Bush.
By the way, ‘Uzi’ is slang for a compact machine gun:
A Letter to the Law
Dem boy wanna talk… [indistinguishable]
Whatcha gon do if ya got one gun?
I sing a song for the hero unsung
with faces on the mural of the revolution
No looking back cos’ in back is what’s done
Tell the preacher, god got more than one son
Tell the law, my Uzi weighs a ton
I walk like a warrior,
from them I won’t run
On the streets, they try to beat us like a drum
In Cincinnati, another brother hung
A guinea won’t see the sun
with his family stung
They want us to hold justice
but you handed me none
The same they did to Kobe and Michael Jackson
make them the main attraction
Turn around and attack them
Black gem in the rough
You’re rugged enough
Use your mind and nine-power, get the government touch
Them boys chat-chat on how him pop gun
I got the black strap to make the cops run
They watching me, I’m watching them
Them dick boys got a lock of cock in them
My people on the block got a lot of pok* in them
and when we roll together
we be rocking them to sleep
No time for that, because there’s things to be done
Stay true to what I do so the youth dream come
from project building
Seeing a fiend being hung
With that happening, why they messing with Saddam?
Burn a Bush cos’ for peace he no push no button
Killing over oil and grease
no weapons of destruction
How can we follow a leader when this a corrupt one
The government’s a g-unit and they might buck young black people
Black people In the urban area one
I hold up a peace sign, but I carry a gun.
Wowie zowie. Gosh, so glad the Lefties got Laura Bush to cancel HER scheduled poetry reading of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, and Walt Whitman, those crazy rabble rousers (and I oughta know. Cough, cough.)
Who here is surprised by this? Yeah, me neither. As my aunt noted, such a classy, classy bunch the Obamas are. Not. And, I might add, this is what passes for poetry these days? Yikes. I'll stick with my Maya Angelou, Willa Cather, Emily Dickinson...