Why Mommy and Daddy Can’t Read -
Public Education’s Crisis and The Stockholm Syndrome
Nearly 50 years ago, Rudolph Flesch wrote a best-selling book called Why Johnny Can’t Read, and identified for the first time the epic proportions of illiteracy that were then plaguing our nation. The book put the blame squarely at the feet of poor reading instruction, and the lack of phonics which years later would also be identified as the number one cause of poor reading proficiency. While some believe Johnny’s prospects may have improved a bit since then, and there is evidence that some students are making progress, it seems that grown-up Johnny has equally paltry literacy skills. As parents, Johnny and his wife also have trouble meeting the basic demands of a literate society.
Results from the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that fully a third of college graduates are incapable of reading “lengthy English texts and making complex references from the readings.” According to former California prosecutor and now - high school teacher Patrick Mattimore, “while the educational attainment of America’s adults increased between 1992 and 2003, the percentages of college graduates scoring at the proficient level declined by nine percentage points.”
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