Saturday, June 09, 2007

my son's report card

My oldest son (8) showed me his final report card for the year today. His grades were excellent across the board, and I was a little sad.

That's weird, isn't it? I'll explain.

My son is a smart kid, but he's certainly not a genius. What he is, is a kid who works very hard on his school work, and who takes great pride in achieving excellence. One example is his reading grade. Second grade kids take standardized reading tests so that they can be measured against other second graders nationwide. My son's scores show that he is in the 95th percentile nationwide among second graders in his reading ability. In fact, the scores show that he is currently reading at the same level as most fifth graders. That's cause for celebration, right? Right?

Well, yes. I am so proud of my son, I'm ready to burst! He works hard, he's a well rounded kid who's good in sports and does well in school, and he is described by his teachers as a leader and a role model for the other kids. All of that is fantastic!

Here's the thing, though. I read with him, as all parents should do with their kids. I read to him and he reads aloud to me, and we share silent reading time together as well, so I am very much aware of what his reading ability is. He reads very well---for a second grader. If he was in the fifth grade, though, and was reading at his current level, I would be very concerned. In fact, I would probably be looking for tutoring and/or extra reading instruction for him to improve his reading.

There's the rub! While I am overwhelmed at how smart my kid is (and extremely curious as to just where all those smarts come from, cause it ain't from me!) I am disturbed that the average fifth grader nationwide can't read any better. That's appalling! Reading is just about the most important thing you learn in school. It's the foundation for everything you will do during your whole school career, and for the rest of your life. Kids entering high school who can't read at their appropriate grade level are so much more likely to drop out than kids who do read at grade level. Go to any high school in the nation and look at the kids who are constantly in trouble (truancy, insubordination, failing classes, criminal activity, etc.) and you will find two factors that 99% of them all have in common. They come from broken homes, and they can't read at grade level. I've been in the education business for a long time, and that's a fact.

Now here's the problem. My son is reading at the level that most second graders should be reading at. If, however, his reading level happens to be the same level that most fifth graders are reading at, that doesn't bode well for the future of the republic, does it? That tells me that most kids nationwide don't read very well, which means that they will have difficulty with the high school curriculum. It means that a lot of them will end up dropping out, and that's bad for America.

This great American republic will not survive without an educated and moral citizenry. How can we the people hope to elect competent representatives unless we are educated and well versed in the topics of the day? Answer---We can't! An uneducated population is much more likely to be sucked in by the false promises and the lies of liberalism because they just don't know any better. It is essential that we do a better job educating our kids.

I'm just as proud as I can be of my son. My wife and I see signs in our 5-year old daughter and our 2-year old youngest son that they are even smarter than the oldest, so we are excited about the future of all three kids. I'm not so excited about the future of America.


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