Thursday, November 29, 2007

hooked on reading worked for me

probably the single most powerful influence that set the course of my life was growing up in a household of readers. both my parents read and read to me. as a minister, my father’s professional tools were not wrenches or calipers, but paper and ink. my mother’s background was in education. a family of modest means, we did not have lots of extravagances. but there was always money for books. as a professional educator myself, i’ve been to about 15 years worth of meetings where folks hash out the problems of the educational system in the united states, looking for the silver bullet that is going to stamp out ignorance. new math, phonics, direct instruction, technology in the classroom, experiential learning. and most importantly, more money.

however, despite years of trying new classroom management skill and curriculum strategies coupled with millions of wasted dollars, a recent report from the national endowment for the arts, reveals that “Americans — particularly young Americans — appear to be reading less for fun, and as that happens, their reading test scores are declining. At the same time, performance in other academic disciplines like math and science is dipping for students whose access to books is limited, and employers are rating workers deficient in basic writing skills.”

this certainly should come as no surprise. what is shocking is that the national endowment for the arts’ findings lifts the veil which hides two dirty little secrets that have derailed progress in american education. the report states that “In seeking to detail the consequences of a decline in reading, the study showed that reading appeared to correlate with other academic achievement. In examining the average 2005 math scores of 12th graders who lived in homes with fewer than 10 books, an analysis of federal Education Department statistics found that those students scored much lower than those who lived in homes with more than 100 books. Although some of those results could be attributed to income gaps, Mr. Iyengar noted that students who lived in homes with more than 100 books but whose parents only completed high school scored higher on math tests than those students whose parents held college degrees (and were therefore likely to earn higher incomes) but who lived in homes with fewer than 10 books.” this finding reveals that the silver bullet which will solve the educational crisis in america is not a technique or money. instead, the solution resides at home. if parents would simply take the responsibility and the time to read to their kids and instill the love of reading for readings sake, i contend quality in america’s classrooms would rise as would test scores across the board.

Friday, November 16, 2007

more silliness from the benchmounts

one of the major battle cries from the left is the call for tolerance and openness in all things and for all people. the double standard of this notion coming from the left becomes almost humorous if looked at by objective, logical observers.

example one: most "enlightened" folks in hollywood claim to be open minded, but apparently if you’re a conservative, you have to remain, ahemm, “in the closet” about your political leanings for fear of how it will affect your marketability in the television and film industry. as
andrew breitbart, co-author of Hollywood, Interrupted, points out, actors “learn very quickly, if they know what's good for them, to donate to the Democratic Party. If they were to donate to the Republican Party, they would be exposed to career-ending ridicule, period.”
wow. that right there is openmindedness to the point of being edgy, no?

example two: in light of ongoing drought conditions in georgia, the governor led lawmakers in a prayer for rain. an organization called (get this now) the atlanta free thought society protested . you’re kidding me, right? the FREE THOUGHT SOCIETY protested!??? how does that work in a logical world?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

10 Things That Should Be Brought Back Into Vogue

10. The right to tackle NFL quarterbacks.

9. Attention to detail no matter what the endeavor.

8. Basketball as a non-contact sport.

7. Studying more than 20 minutes for a major exam.

6. Men who act like men and women who act like ladies.

5. $1.00 a gallon gas.

4. The concept of shame.

3. Pocket watches.

2. Reading.

1. The straight razor shave.