In 2013, American children (fifteen year-year-olds, to be exact) slipped from 11th to 21st place in Reading Comprehension on an international assessment conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Three Reasons Why You Should Care about Reading:
Research shows that poor readers have a more difficult time. Poor reading skills lead to frustration, slow completion of school tasks, and may contribute to drop-out rates. The Community College Research Center (CCRC) found that students who need remedial reading courses have a 29% pass rate of Freshman English (because many of them drop out before even getting to Freshman English). These non-completions affect us all in several ways:
- Adults without a high school diploma earn less, on average, than their diploma holding peers
- High school drop-outs consume more social services than their peers
- Well-paid, middle-skilled jobs (requiring community college degrees) are going unfilled. A Harvard report asserts that nearly 70% of HR executives claim that their firm’s inability to hire middle skilled workers is directly affecting productivity.
Thus, as a nation, productivity drops, social services cost more, and we have fewer skilled workers paying taxes.
Do you know that China graduates more honors students than we graduate students of any kind? To stay competitive, every student and every worker counts.
I think Thomas Jefferson said it well: “An informed citizenry is at the heart of a dynamic democracy.” Our republic depends on people to be well informed. Poor readers do not expand their knowledge of the world in the same way as strong readers. As a result, they are more susceptible to sound bites, slogans, and less rigorous forms of argumentation. They struggle to conduct their own research to verify the truth. Critical readers, on the other hand, are less likely to be conned, defrauded, and enslaved.
What do we do about it?
Short Answer: Read more.
Long Answer: I hope to make the long answer the topic of many blog posts to come. I hope you come with me and contribute to the conversation.
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