The regrettable situation of college freshmen who cannot read or write at a college level is well known. As many as half the high school graduates who enter college require remediation courses.
Not so much media attention is given to a similar situation that exists with the recruiting of service personnel for the armed forces.
According to an editorial I read yesterday, nearly a quarter of all high school graduates who try to join the U.S. Army can’t pass a basic entry exam on which they are required to achieve a minimum score of 31 out of 99. A sample question:
If 2 plus x equals 4, what is the value of x?
The editorial points out an even more shocking fact about the 17-24 year old demographic that may wish to join the Army: seventy-five percent don’t qualify to take the basic entry exam because
a. they have a criminal record
b. they didn’t graduate from high school
c. they are physically unfit.
If the educational establishment in this country were scrutinized by its users like any other industry, it would be the target of anti-fraud laws.
Before the 19th century, education beyond basic literacy was the privilege of the wealthy. Literate parents could teach their children to read, write and do sums, but only the well-to-do could afford to educate their children beyond these simple basics.
In the 1840s, civic-minded educators like Horace Mann campaigned for a public system that would provide education for children at every economic level. The rationale:
common schooling could create good citizens, unite society and prevent crime and poverty.
We all know how that turned out.
The proof is in the pudding.
Parents who want educated children cannot afford to trust the public schools to do the job.
Academic success begins with reading fluency. Parents who want their children to learn to read and write effectively will get busy and learn how to teach their children these skills at home.