Butch Says To Make Sure Your Kids Read

As I mentioned in an earlier column, nearly one in five high school graduates cannot read, and 32 million adults in our country cannot read above a fifth grade level. What does this level of illiteracy mean for our society? Four out of every ten people with little or no reading skills live in poverty, with 75% of those receiving food stamps. 90% of high school dropouts are on welfare, and sadly, two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.

So how did America end up in this predicament? Here is my opinion based on my 33 years as a librarian. I have dozens of kids visit the library to check out books when they are in grade school. But as they enter middle school and high school, social media and video take over. The kids spend their time texting, logging on to Facebook, Tik-Tok (and various other sites)…and watching the latest garbage coming out of Hollywood. But wait…you might comment that these teenagers make good grades anyway. Maybe…maybe not. The vast majority of teachers are intelligent and focused on their job…and they care about their students. But there is often not-so-subtle pressure on many teachers to give good grades, whether the students earned it or not…to make sure everyone, especially a parent, is happy. At many schools today, especially in the inner city schools, the true grade scale is as follows: A (average), B (below average), C (complain until you get a better grade), D (the dean gets involved), F (file a lawsuit), and I (in complete denial). Can it happen here? I know a student here who made A’s and B’s all through high school. I taught this boy in middle school, and he was a C and D student at best. But he was popular, good in sports, and his father was a good friend of the high school principal. Yes, he was accepted as a student at a prominent university…and flunked every class his freshman year. I have seen the same thing happen to some kids who were home-schooled.

As one person said, “Truth is often hard to swallow, so we rest in comfortable lies and delusions.” Ignorance and mediocrity are the result of a society that does not demand the best, and allows people to remain uneducated, illiterate, and unable to think for themselves. And because our national politicians, tech giants, progressive education leaders, and news media want to control what you think and believe, then don’t look for anything to change soon.

Reading and a good education are complex cognitive processes which fosters language acquisition, knowledge, and creativity. Turn off the TV. Turn off the Internet. Turn off the iPhone. Read books…and make your kids read books…great books written by great authors. You will be glad you did. Support the schools that expect true excellence in education. Refuse to enable the continuing dumbing down of America. Our future depends on you. As author Ray Bradbury once said, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

And remember that a generation of youngsters, educated by the Internet, and mesmerized by technology, video games, TV, and movies, will eventually cause the self-destruction of a great nation. Why?…because many of the voters today are illiterate and ignorant…and will believe anything.

John “Butch” Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 32 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.