Tuesday, May 10, 2011

If You Can Read This...

Chances are 50-50 you probably aren't from Detroit.

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.

Peace, ya’ll.”

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...


Mary Ellen said...

Regarding Michelle's "poetry" reading, I'm not surprised. Common has done his rap routine in Reverend Wright's church many times. There are YouTubes out there and he had the house rocking with his hate rap.

I always wondered how Hitler was able to say the things he did and act on his hate and killing while much of the German population sat silent or worse, went along with him. I can see in now, in our own country, where things like this can go on in the White House and the media doesn't say "boo". It's just sickening.

Regarding the Detroit illiteracy, I'm not surprised at all. I do believe that the biggest source of the problem is the teacher's union and the city government who kowtow to them. This same problem is going on in the Chicago school districts and they keep throwing good money after bad and the results are always the same...the kids are getting shorthanded because they are being taught by teachers who either don't care or those who do, are being held back from helping the students. Having a daughter who taught in the Chicago school district in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Chicago...the unions did NOTHING to help her when she was being called "Whitey" by the office staff or when she was told to "just get the students passed" and not worry if they were leaning. This is the same stuff that goes on in Detroit.

That's the Detroit tax dollars at work...the unions are raking in the dough so they can spend it on getting their favorite politician voted in and the city is to the point that it may never recover.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Mary Ellen, thank you for such an excellent comment. Wow!

Oh, what a surprise abt "Common" spreading his vitriol at Michelle's church, where all the people are saying, "Amen!" That, too, is disturbing on so many levels.

I have wondered the same thing for years abt Hitler and Germany. Our media does seem hellbent on protecting Obama, propping him up, and cleaning up after him. So, yes - I can see how it happened in Germany. Now, anyway.

Well, ME, I have to say, I thought abt Obama's close personal friend, convicted felon, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit. What a surprise (not) that things have gone to hell in a handbasket in Detroit. And in other cities, for that matter, as you pointed out.

What happened to your daughter is just horrible, Mary Ellen, and NEVER would have been tolerated before. Good grief. That is just shocking.

Again, great comment. You nailed it!