Dropping Out of School Every 26 Seconds

In 2007, at the National Governor’s Association Summit it was stated that one student drops out of a US school every 29 seconds.

Three years later it was reported by CNN that the statistic is every 26 seconds.

The following year, NBA All Star LeBron James and State Farm Insurance decided to bring this startling news to more people’s attention through their “26 Second” program.


What will it take before America implements exactly what needs to be done to tackle the problem? That problem being illiteracy.

With illiteracy a major cause of juvenile delinquency and crime, as reported on many fronts, it seems only natural that the primary emphasis should be to ensure that every American knows how to read proficiently.

And the most proven method to accomplish that very worthwhile goal, whether it be beginning reading instruction or remediation, is through systematic and explicit phonics instruction.

Instead of illiteracy costing taxpayers and businesses over $225 billion annually in crime, welfare payments, lost taxes, job incompetence and remedial education is it not better to increase production and income through literacy?

In 2003, the Alliance for Excellent Education stated in their report, “If literacy levels in the United States were the same as those in Sweden, the U.S. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) would rise by approximately $463 billion and tax revenues would increase by approximately $162 billion.


It is time for change. It is time to Wake Up and not only address but handle the problem.

Phonics reading methodology can, and does, change lives. But, only if it is used.

Solving America’s Education Problem – Back To Basics

First President Obama stated that children in America needed longer school days.

Then Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, stated (per the Philadelphia Inquirer): “Our school calendar’s based on a 19th century agrarian economy. I’m sure there weren’t too many kids in Philadelphia working in their parents’ fields this summer.”

The above statement by Duncan is true; school in America has been based on an agrarian calendar. Summer was a time for children to assist their family in the fields, harvesting, and the like.


Don’t get us wrong; we do not particularly have an issue with children attending school longer.

And it is known that there are researchers who have said that adding even short amounts to of time to a curriculum raises test scores.

What we take exception to is that the root of America’s educational crisis is not a short school day.

Witness, the United States has been on the agrarian calendar for education essentially since schools were formed (circa 1647).

Under this system and schedule, the U.S. did lead the world in education for decades and decades.

Thus, changing the school day schedule or the number of days in school is not the answer. It may help some, but it is not the answer.

What is?

Basics.

Pure and simple, the basics of education.

The Three R’s: reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.

Youth today have not learned their basics. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

National test scores, as collected and averaged by the National Center for Education Statistics, show slight, only slight, increases in reading and mathematic scores in all grade levels of students tested the last four decades.

Whole word reading displaced phonics as the way to teach students to read. And, despite the fact the National Reading Panel (which reviewed over 100,000 studies on reading) states unequivocally that the use of phonics is the best way to accomplish this task, most of our students are not taught to read using phonics.


Student comprehension is low, as dictionaries, which used to be in classrooms in mass quantities, have all but disappeared from the educational scene.

The problem is not the number of hours a child spends in school.

The problem is what and how our children are being taught while they attend.

And this problem has been staring us in the face for decades.

Our youth need to be taught the basics.

Teaching those basics is the best way to halt student dropout, of which there are 3,000 students who leave school PER DAY.

“In Philadelphia, for instance, about half of all students cannot read or do math on grade level. The dropout rate hovers around 50 percent as well,” states the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Keep in mind that the National Institute of Justice reported that 85% of all juvenile offenders lack basic reading and math skills.

Food for thought.

Preparing Students for the 21st Century

Preparing students for the 21st century is, quite frankly, like preparing them for any other.

They must know how to read.


If a person graduating high school does not know how to read proficiently, not at a 4th grade level, they will be unable to master most any job, let alone their life.

Reading is so fundamental to life, from being able to read a job advertisement to a car or home contract, from banking paperwork to past-due notices and more, that until America begins to properly educate students how to read all other methods of “education reform” are doomed to dismal failure, regardless of the amount of money spent in that sector.

The statistics that are continually gathered regarding how functional illiteracy affects all of society are staggering. The three worst are:

  • In the U.S. prison system over 60% of all inmates read at or below 4th grade level
  • Approximately 85% of juvenile offenders are functionally illiterate
  • Illiteracy costs taxpayers and companies over $225 billion annually in crime, welfare payments, lost taxes, job incompetence and remedial education

The solution to the problem is not rocket science, or even close.

The solution is simple. Teach students how to read, effectively and competently, through the use of systematic and explicit phonics.

Get America back to basics.

Teach children their ABC’s and their 123’s.

Then, and only then, will they be armed with the correct tools to complete their education and to forge a life in the 21st century and beyond.

As Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

School House ‘Pork’ Does Not Cure The Illiteracy Epidemic

There have been many articles written the past several years about earmarks for education.

While it might be argued that some may be worthwhile it appears that a majority of them could have been eliminated without any harm to educating youth in America.

Especially when one considers the epidemic of illiteracy that persists with 85% of all juvenile offenders lacking basic reading and math skills and one high school student dropping out every 29 seconds.

Does it make sense to, in one year, fund zoos in the amount of $2.7 million in the name of “education?” Do Hall of Fames for Rock and Roll, Baseball and Aviation deserve to garner over one million dollars instead of teaching students how to read?

The fact that both parties deem it worthwhile to attach billions of dollars annually in education earmarks without addressing the vital need to get American students back to basics with systematic and explicit phonics so that they are able to read proficiently is criminal.

Factually, it would cost a fraction of what “image pork” besets taxpayers.

What is meant by Image Pork?  How about Congress passing an earmark, using taxpayer dollars, in the amount of $1.9 million for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service or $19 million for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate or $2.4 million for the Lott Leadership Institute or $10 million for the Strom Thurmond Fitness and Wellness Center.

Why would any reasonable person sitting on Capitol Hill believe that their name is worth more than properly educating children in America how to read?

Education “reform” is not needed.  Political reform definitely is required.

It is time to eliminate earmarks of all nature as they are special interest in nature and burden each and every citizen with a pricetag to pay.

More importantly, it is time to ensure students in America are properly educated how to read because, as Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

Reading With Phonics Positively Changes Lives

Reading is the primary tool people use to become educated on virtually any subject. When one cannot capably read one’s potential in any field is diminished.

The Smart Way Reading and Spelling® methodology has successfully assisted thousands of people, young and old alike, to learn to read or to become better readers through remediation of their skills.

The foolproof phonics program is systematic and explicit, following Orton-Gillingham principles and based on the findings and the recommended elements required to effectively teach reading as reported by the National Reading Panel.

The Scope and Sequence is geared to educate a student through the reading gradients, from learning the consonant sounds and reading words with short vowel sounds, through all of the most common English phonetic patterns, up to advanced phonetic concepts such as silent letters and the schwa sound.

Smart Way Reading has been used in scores of cities across the United States with consistent and uniform positive results.

Utilizing the Wide Range Achievement Test for pre- and post-testing, students, on average, increased from the 30th to the 50th Percentile based on their age in typically 30-35 hours of either one-on-one or small group tutoring. That essentially means that they moved from substantially below to reading at their age level.


More information regarding results may be viewed here: Results and Testimonials.

The only proven way for people to learn to read, as well as to eradicate illiteracy through effective remediation, is through utilization of fully researched and evidence-based systematic and explicit phonics programs such as Smart Way Reading.  A study that validates its use and results can be found here: SWRS Research Study.

The multi-sensory Smart Way program has also been converted, as a direct derivative work, for online use showing essentially the same level of student achievement.  A brief overview may be seen at: Overview.

“Thanks to the Smart Way explicit systematic approach to help our students break the codes to reading, writing, speaking and understanding English, our test scores are better in all areas.” VT, Student Learning Coach

© 2001-2017 Sue Young & Scott D. Welch. All Rights Reserved. Smart Way Reading-Made in the U.S.A. (727) 734-8483