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In 1995, a student teacher for a fifth-grade class in Minneapolis wrote following letter to local newspaper: ". . . I was told [that] children are not to be expected to spell following words correctly: back, big, call, came, can, day, did, dog, down, get, good, if, in, is, it, have, he, home, like, little, man, morning, mother, my, night, off, out, over, people, play, ran, said, saw, she, some, soon, their, them, there, time, two, too, up, us, very, water, we, went, where, when, will, would, etc. Is this nuts?"
In 2002, New York State Education Department’s annual report on latest reading and math scores for public school students found:
• 90 percent of middle schools failed to meet New York State minimum standards for math and English exam scores.
• 65 percent of elementary schools flunked minimum standards.
• 84 percent of high schools failed to meet minimum state standards.
• More than half of New York City’s black and hispanic elementary school students failed state’s English and math exams. About 30 percent of white and asian-american students failed to achieve minimum English test scores.
• The results for eighth grade students were even worse. Here, 75 percent of black and hispanic students flunked both English and math tests. About 50 percent of white and Asian-American eighth graders failed tests. These illiteracy rates are now common in public schools across America, not just in New York City.
In short,as shown by New York State Education Department’s annual report and other studies, student illiteracy rates in many public schools range from 30 to 75 percent. This is an education horror story.
That is what illiteracy can mean, what it does mean for millions of public-school children who can barely read. Does any parent want this kind of future for his or her children? I argue in my book, "Public Schools, Public Menace" that our public school system is primary cause of this tragic illiteracy, and one reason why these schools are a menace to our children.
A great movie to see that shows tragic consequences of illiteracy is "Stanley and Iris" with Robert DeNiro and Jane Fonda. After you see this movie, you might think twice about keeping your children in public schools.
Joel Turtel is an education policy analyst. He is also the author of "The Welfare State: No Mercy For The Middle Class." Contact Information: Website: http://www.mykidsdeservebetter.com, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 718-447-7348, Article Copyrighted © 2005 by Joel Turtel.