Illiteracy And Our Future: A Clarion Call From Florida

Over the course of the past week or so, I’ve been on an education kick, posting a couple of entries here on ThinkFY (you can read those here and here) about mounting evidence that we are failing to give today’s children the tools to be successful later in life.

Following on the heels of the last post, which reported on the fact that “only about a third of students would pass” Florida’s new assessment exam, comes this new story out of Florida that only “52 percent of freshman students and 50 percent of sophomores scored at their grade levels.” In other words, about half of the high school students in Florida “failed the reading portion of the state’s new toughened standardized test.” Half! Now that doesn’t mean illiterate, but when half of a state’s student population fail a reading test, it means that we’re not doing enough to make sure our children have the wherewithal to compete in an ever growing, competitive global economy when they becomes adults.

This is unacceptable.

Of all the things we can give our children, an education is the most important. Education is the foundation children use to forge a successful future for themselves, their posterity and for our society as a whole.  Underpinning the successes of any individual’s education is literacy.  The state of literacy is the basis for the essential building blocks of knowledge that mathematics, the sciences, history and the arts provide.

The study of math, science, and history in general, help to establish the skills of problem-solving, reasoning and deduction. The inability to read and write, which prohibits the study of the aforementioned subjects, is contrary to the development of additional skills such as comprehension and the maturity of common sense.  The lack of such abilities undermines liberty as our Founding Fathers established in their roadmaps to prosperity in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.  The Fathers of our Republic knew it to be true that the people are the “safest depository,” but only when “people are well informed” can they “be trusted with their own government.”

People cannot be well informed if the people are not well educated. The state of being “well informed” does not simply refer to being knowledgeable about current events, but also to the ability to read and write, as well as a general working knowledge of mathematics, sciences and history.  A working general knowledge and understanding of American history, specifically an understanding of the principles, values and traditions enshrined in our country’s founding is of utmost importance.  We Americans have an innate desire to better ourselves and better the future for our posterity through greater understanding of where we have been and what we have done.  This process of self and societal reevaluation is essential.  Through higher comprehension of history, we can see where we’ve been and determine our course for the future, correcting those things that result in failure and maintaining those that promote success.

The continuance of those things that promote success, past and present, depends greatly on the predecessors of each generation to pass on American principles, values and traditions.  If one does not know and understand what a Republic is, what this country was founded on, how can they pass on to their children that which they do not understand?  What will happen to future generations and the well being of this Republic if those who are tasked with educating are deficient in the subjects themselves? These are not hypothetical questions, but rather very real cause for concern.  The intolerable condition of education today increases the inability of a growing number of Americans to apply and pass on American principles, values and traditions and calls into question the ability of this Republic to endure.

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