83% of African-American children's reading and comprehension skills are way below the proficiency level

I wanted to let you know about a new petition I created on We the People, a new feature on WhiteHouse.gov, and ask for your support. Will you add your name to mine? If this petition gets 99,999 signatures by April 09, 2015, the White House will review it and respond!We the People allows anyone to create and sign petitions asking the Obama Administration to take action on a range of issues. If a petition gets enough support, the Obama Administration will issue an official response.
                   
You can view and sign the petition here: http://wh.gov/iDNFM


Here's why it's important:

Reading Comprehension and the Age of Technology

Reading and comprehension proficiency is the foundation for all things learned.  Strong reading skills are necessary more now than ever because of the advancement of technology and the importance technology plays in all of our lives.  Before you can pursue a post-secondary education or a STEM profession you have to be able to read and comprehend at a proficiency level.  Anything less than that will not be sufficient to be successful in a STEM profession.   Unless we improve the reading comprehension literacy in the United States, we will continue to lag behind other countries in technology invention, advancement and have unfilled technology jobs in the US.   
The US educational system is unequal and it limits the learning potential of minorities.  This system is diminishing the nation's competitiveness in the Global economy.  It’s the reason why the United States lag behind other countries in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.


Minorities Reading and Comprehension Skills Need Improvement for Post-secondary School and STEM Careers

We have always known that the US has a reading illiteracy problem.   We have always known that minorities reading proficiency level was lower than other races in the US.  I find it very disturbing that absolutely nothing has been done to improve the reading proficiency level of minority children in the US.  Even though they had the data since 1992 that shows the severity of the problem and the alarming number of minority children who can’t read or comprehend what they are reading, they have not developed any type of intervention reading comprehension programs for the schools.  The latest data is from the 2013 Nations Report Card.  Only 9% of African-American children were reading at a proficiency level in 1992.  The current report shows that only 17% of African American children were reading at a proficiency level in 2013.  This means that 83% of African-American children does not have adequate reading and comprehension skills to learn math and technology concepts in order to pursue post-secondary school and careers in STEM. 
The Nations Report Card published Reading data in 1992.  The data wasn’t published again until the Obama Administration was in office in 2011 and more recent in 2013.

Variables that Attribute to Reading and Comprehension Illiteracy

There are several variables that attribute to inadequate reading comprehension and illiteracy in the US.  All are important but I believe the most important is the inability of the school systems to develop and implement successful reading and comprehension classes, poverty, a lack of adequate reading tools in schools and homes and the lack of parental involvement with the child’s school.  Since minorities mostly attend US Public Schools, we can assume the problem exist mainly within these systems.  They are still teaching reading the same way they have been teaching it before the technology age and it’s unacceptable.  Reading illiteracy is the main cause of poverty, life time of unemployment, low paying jobs, crime and incarceration within the minority community.   

A New Reading and Comprehension Literacy Program is needed in United States School System

The Department of Education announced programs to close the achievement gap.  Two of the programs are for Early Child Development and preparing students for STEM careers.  Reading at a proficiency level is a prerequisite for learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  What programs are they going to develop and implement for the 83% of 4th and 8th grade African American students who currently read below the proficiently level to prepare them for post-secondary school and careers in STEM?  Some Junior Colleges, Colleges and Universities have reading and math remediation programs for first year college students.  The remediation need to be done in Elementary, Middle and High School.  If they want to bridge the wealth gap, achievement gap and give minorities a better chance and opportunity to pursue post-secondary school and careers in STEM, they need to implement a nationwide mandatory reading comprehension proficiency program.  Reading at a proficiency level is a prerequisite for learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
 
Require all students to attend and satisfactory complete reading comprehension classes before entering into the 4th grade, before entering into middle school, before entering into high school and before completing high school.  This program will be in addition to the current English Literature classes. This program will focus strictly on reading and comprehension for the English language.  This will provide reading and comprehension proficiency checkpoints to identify problems and correct them early to ensure all students are reading at the required grade level before passing to the next level of their education.  Currently, we have students graduating from high school that can’t read words let alone comprehend what the words mean.  If this reading system is not changed, minority children will continue to be at a disadvantage and they will continue to be excluded from post-secondary school and careers in STEM or any career that will provide a high paying salary above poverty level.  This is the same as the top 1%.  Continuing to develop their skills and building their financial wealth while others are not being developed with the necessary skills to uplift them out of poverty.  The Public Schools are not teaching the students the necessary reading comprehension skills required for our Technology driven Global world.  Therefore, The Department of Education must remedy the educational inequalities that are limiting the learning ability of minority children by developing and implementing a mandatory reading and comprehension proficiency program for all students in Elementary, Middle and High School.  We believe the mandatory reading and comprehension proficiency program should be included in the proposal for the reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and we want Congress to re-authorize the ESEA for funding.  The Obama Administration completed the proposal for the reform of the ESEA in 2010.  It’s been five years, and Congress has not re-authorized the ESEA for funding yet. 


“Educating all of our children must be one of our most urgent priorities.  We all know that education, more than anything else, improves our chances of building better lives.”  Nelson Mandela        

References: 
US Department of Education – The Nations Report Card
http://www.nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2013/#/student-groups
http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education/k-12/reforming-no-child-left-behind
Twitter Black Kids Matter: https://twitter.com/blackkidsmatter

Gre-Fonda Hardy
Gre-Fonda Hardy

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