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.”

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