The Shame Of The Nation By Jonathan Kozol

Keeping on the topic of education for a little bit, I thought I’d share a video with Jonathan Kozol, an amazing author who has for years tried to make known the inequalities of the public education system known. This 9 minute interview with Mr. Kozol helps give some quick insight and understanding to what his books discuss in further detail.

Why this Matters.
A lot of people, especially many in the church, applaud our country as being of ‘Land of Opportunity’ and we celebrate it’s freedom and equality. We are not however a country of free and equal opportunity. Our education system has been grossly unequal ever since the days of slavery, keeping and oppressing generations from ever having the opportunity to a fair chance at rising up. The Bible is filled with verses concerning justice from oppression, like in Isaiah:

10:1 Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,

2 to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,

If you believe this is authoritative, then your church should be doing something about the injustice of the land that you live in. If you don’t believe the Bible as fact, then at least tuck this verse away to challenge Christians that you meet to actually follow the Bible they claim they follow.

Can’t Read? Let’s Build You A Prison Cell!

A long time ago I had heard the comment thrown out that they look at illiteracy rates for third grades and build prison cells based on those numbers. It was an interesting correlation, but learning about the school system, and the struggle it is for kids to catch up, it isn’t surprising that they would look at those statistics. In school students spend up to third grade “Learning to Read” and after that they must “Read to Learn.” If your not on track and reading at third grade it is likely you will struggle for years to catch up, likely you will drop out, and likely you will get in trouble with the law.

I put up a series of quotes I found online a while back acknowledging this correlation and usage of reading rates to base prison cell projections on. That post has seen quite a few readers lately so I thought I would update things here with a video from one of my recent readers.
At about 4:30 into the video you have Dr. Russ Whitehurst, Director, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education saying essentially the correlation is obviously there and the ‘need for jails.’

Here are some other quotes from around the net on the same subject.

From Investing in Literacy

Indiana’s former governor has stated that determining the number of new prisons to build is based, in part, on the number of second graders not reading at second-grade level.

From Dialects, Teaching Reading and Literacy to Dialect Speakers: Educational CyberPlayGround™

In California they plan how many jail cells they will build in the future by how many children are not reading on grade level by third grade.

From Democracy and Equity: CES’s Tenth Common Principle

“Based on this year’s fourth-grade reading scores,” observes Paul Schwartz, a Coalition principal in residence at the U. S. Department of Education, “California is already planning the number of new prison cells it will need in the next century.”

From Evidence Based Education Science and Learning to Read

David Boulton: We were interviewing Lesley Morrow, the Past-President of the International Reading Association, and she made a statement which flabbergasted me. She said this was a fact: that there are some states that determine how many prison cells to build based on reading scores.

Dr. Grover (Russ) Whitehurst: Yes. Again, the predictability of reading for life success is so strong, that if you look at the proportion of middle schoolers who are not at the basic level, who are really behind in reading, it is a very strong predictor of problems with the law and the need for jails down the line.

Literacy for societies, literacy for states, literacy for individuals is a powerful determinate of success. The opposite of success is failure and clearly, being in jail is a sign of failure.

People who don’t read well have trouble earning a living. It becomes attractive to, in some cases the only alternative in terms of gaining funds, to violate the law and steal, to do things that get you in trouble. Few options in some cases other than to pursue that life. Of course reading opens doors.

From ReadFresno:

Several states, including California, use reading achievement levels of students in the third grade as a basis for projecting the number of future prison beds needed.

I’m looking into more statistic as well, so if you have any please let me know. I’ll update this post as we find more. This needs some serious consideration and reflection. Any thoughts?

Back and Better Than… Well, Just Back

Alright folks, today officially marks the end to my blogging break here at Trying to Follow. I wish I had some grand insights to share with you about my experience, but I don’t really. Mainly, we’ve gone through some major transitions lately (baby, moving, job and home searching) and so I figured a break from this would help me to sort of focus on those other things. I did make some cool post banners though.

I had a plan to continue to write daily, in hopes that I could begin to build an honest collection of thoughts on faith. I figured this would be a good thing to do for a couple reasons. One, writing down your beliefs is good practice in general. Two, with a new child and the responsibility of parenting, I figured collecting my thoughts would better prepare me for intentionally instilling my values in my children. Three, not that I have all the answers, but having been on a faith journey for a significant part of my current life, my thoughts might prove useful to others on their journey. I say all that, and yet I failed miserably at doing that consistent writing and only really got started about a week ago. I’m still plugging along, but I needed to start writing here again as an outlet for all the other thoughts banging around in my mind.

I mentioned trying to change the format of this blog, but I’m not sure that I will yet. At the moment, this is simply my personal blog that serves as an outlet for me to write and dialog with others about a wide range of topics. I do think this will become a bit more ‘faith’ oriented in nature as I’m really making an effort to flesh out what I believe in a way that makes sense to others. That isn’t to say that you need to be on the same ‘faith’ journey as me, I would really appreciate the dialog from others who don’t share my faith beliefs. I think what I might do, especially when I cover topics that might not seem related to my belief system, I’ll try and add a little blurb that makes explicit what Bible verses or values compel me to care about this issue or that. If I start slacking on doing that, just ask me and I’ll respond.

Asides: Just a quick note of some additions. Be sure to check out my ‘Who I Read‘ page. It’s a long list but I subscribe to every one of those websites and I highly recommend most of them. If your not on there let me know and I’ll add you. Also, I’m going to take down Comment Love for a little while. I’ll keep you updated on our donations, but I don’t think it was really helping facilitate further conversation. Also, I’m adding my YouTube channel to the sidebar and I’ll be posting more ‘asides’ exclusively at the website, not on the feed. Alright, peace.