Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Purposely Said – Dr. Linda F. Beed
What about the Children?
Within this short time I have with you I would like to speak somberly about our most precious gift, our children.
Children are a blessing entrusted to us for only a short period of time. In that time it is our honor, privilege and responsibility to nurture them toward purpose, the reason for their being sent to this earth. A large part of that responsibility has been neglected for various reasons; and exploited for others.
Below are statistics I have gathered that I would like you to seriously consider regarding not only your children, but any child set under your authority.
POVERTY, RACE and LITERACY
Did you know that:
• In 1998 it was reported that 68% of fourth-graders living at or below the poverty level failed to reach the basic level of achievement?
• 64% of Blacks and 60% of Hispanic fourth-graders read below the basic level compared to 27% White and 31% Asian.
• In 2002 – More than half of African-American and Hispanic students graduated from high school.
• In 2003 – The National Center for Education reported that only three-quarters of high school students graduated in four years.
• In 2004 – The National Assessment of Educational Progress reported that only three out of ten eighth grade students read above their grade level.
• In 2006 – Only eight million American students from the fourth through twelfth grades could read, write and comprehend at satisfactory levels.
• In 2005 – Five states spent more on prisons ($49 billion) than they did on colleges. An $11 billion increase from 1985.
• 2005 rates show that 30% of men between the ages of 20 and 34 were incarcerated. Among black males the rate was 1 in 9.
• State general fund budgets over the last 20 years were adjusted up to 127% while education expenditures rose only 21%.
• The biggest downturn in the educational process occurs in the fourth grade.
• Today 40% of American fourth graders read below the required national level.
• It is in the fourth grade that documentation begins in terms of state standardized testing.
• Quote from Coalition Principal in Residence at the U.S. Department of Education, Paul Schwartz in 1998: “In California based on this year’s 4th grade reading scores, if the child isn’t reading on 4th grade level when tested they will plan to budget building another jail cell.”
• Quote from Kathleen Cushman’s 1998 work Democracy and Equity: CES’s Tenth Common Principle: “California is already planning the number of new prison cells it will need in the next century.”
SOMETHING TO CONSIDER
• Statistics report that children reading below level when they enter the fourth grade rarely reach their full potential.
• The approximate life span is 70 years x 365 days = 25,550 days of life.
• A school year is theoretically 30 weeks.
• This is 150 days minus 10 days for illness, holidays and teacher in-service days, which leaves 140 days.
• Kindergarten through the end of third grade is 4 years.
• Multiply 4 times 140 days = 560 days.
• The partnership of parents and teachers has 560 days to equip a child for how he/she will spend their remaining 24,990 days on earth.
The good news amid such harrowing data and processes is that we can make a difference. We can do this by beginning to read to our children NOW. Regardless, if they are one or seven, begin reading aloud to them and with them at least thirty minutes each day. Allow this time to be interactive by asking questions and encouraging them to do the same. Create a word of focus that will help to increase their vocabulary. A strong vocabulary lends to a child’s confidence. That confidence is an essential tool that aids in a child’s educational success. It is the continual giving of this gift that perpetuates success.
As you go out this holiday season, consider giving the gift of a book that will entertain as well as educate a deserving child. As a parent make reading to your children top priority. As a concerned citizen consider volunteering time to help a child in need with their reading skills. Do so remembering that their future to a large degree IS in our hands.
Until next time, remember—Purposely Said words can destroy or create a life. Linda!
Dr. Linda Beed is an educator, speaker, children’s minister and author of Business Unusual. She co-moderators BWChristianLit, maintains its sister online blog and is the Review Editor for KDGospel Media Magazine.
You can find her on the web at:
lindabeed.com / MySpace / On Assignment Reviews / BWChristianLit
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