Reading is Fundamental–Deceased?

In a time when fewer Americans read than ever, Bush has eliminated funding for RIF (Reading is Fundamental) from the 2009 budget. This site has a form for contacting your congressperson and telling them to put it back.

Why is this post tagged “anti-science”? From the National Institute for Literacy:

By age 17, only about 1 in 17 seventeen year olds can read and gain information from specialized text, for example the science section in the local newspaper. This includes:

  • 1 in 12 White 17 year olds,
  • 1 in 50 Latino 17 year olds, and
  • 1 in 100 African American 17 year olds.

Research ties early reading to success later in life as a reader.

[Cross posted at the Bug Blog. Waggle of the Antennae to Shakesville for the tip.]


Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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  1. I used to be a schoolteacher. Words cannot express my outrage.

    Just because Dubbya wants to be a subliterate moron, the rest of our nation’s children must also be? Is he ashamed of being caught looking at “My Pet Goat” upside down?

    Fexake. Billions each day to fund an invasion he conned the nation into staging, but nothing for the education of our children.

    Wel, what the hell. We need live foetuses so they can grow up to be dead soldiers. And since they’ll be dead soldiers, we needn’t waste any more resources on them than required to make them successful dead soldiers.

    Damn, this makes me angry.

  2. I support RIF and anything that is beneficial to the public school system, but I do not rely on the public school system. I spend plenty of time teaching them on my own. Who in their right mind would wholly leave the education of their children up to the government?

  3. I’m going to have to wait to fill out the congressperson-contacting form until my brain cells quit vibrating in outrage. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it.

    And Rav, *snicker* at the “My Pet Goat” comment, which reminded me of one of those oft-forwarded jokes you’ve probably seen before …

    “WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A tragic fire on Monday destroyed the personal library of President George W. Bush. Both of his books have been lost.

    Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer said the president was devastated, as he had not finished coloring the second one.”

  4. Alan–The folks who rely on the government for reading are people who are working 3 minimum wage jobs and don’t have *time* to spend reading with their kids.

    Or who never learned to read, or read well, themselves.

    That’s why I think RIF is important. Sure, some kids will always read. But not all of them, and especially not the low income kids.

  5. My biggest fear is that funding for RIF is being taken away to support more controversial programs such as Reading First.

    I fully expect to lose books out my classroom library every year, and I’m okay with that. Because, you know, the kids need them more than I do. It makes me sad that the government is cutting funding for a program that helps put books in kids’ hands. So many don’t have them…

  6. Thank you so much for posting this!! I wrote my representatives immediately — it’s a no-brainer. I went to schools where many of the parents were working enough hours that reading to their kids wasn’t so easy and where a not-terribly-small percentage of the parents couldn’t read well enough to read to their kids. For many kids RIF books were the only ones they got to keep during the course of the year, and they were cherished items.

    Our district seems to rely on accelerated reader to get kids excited, but it has the opposite effect on many kids I’ve seen as they’re encouraged to restrict their reading to stuff they could be tested on. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to encourage reading just as something you do so you can take a test!

  7. I don’t want to encourage reading just as something you do so you can take a test!

    That’s exactly the problem with education policy in this country. “Learning” has been reduced to “absorbing only the things that students have to regurgitate on test day, so that the school can keep its share of government funding.”

    I want to wrap up with something pithy, but I’m too disheartened. The very worst part is that I’m not at all surprised that President Bush would wind down his disastrous tenure in office by trying to eliminate a program that benefits poor kids.

    Here’s an idea. Maybe the Air Force could get by with one or two fewer fighters jets next year, so that children could have some free books? Whaddya say, George?

  8. OK, help me out here … I looked up the official websites of Reading First and RIF, but they weren’t all that helpful in seeing the material differences between the programs, at least on the front lines in the classrooms. What makes RIF particularly preferable to Reading First?

  9. “Is he ashamed of being caught looking at ‘My Pet Goat’ upside down?”

    I enjoy making fun of Bush as much as the next guy, but seriously Dude, that was totally an obvious photoshop job.

  10. I fondly remember getting my Scholastic book order while in grade school. Those books were mine, real kid treasure that meant something. And for at-risk (poor) kids to get this same experience in invaluable.

    My wife teaches library science, communication and storytelling in the education department of her university. I’m always being told by this “expert” that early “reading” has not been shown to be reflective of later reading success. Early “literacy” and an understanding of story narrative and a love of stories…, leads to a much higher reading rate later in life. Not to mention a love of books, fiction and non fiction, which does lead to later education success. My wife has always thought flash cards and rote memorization was evil, so we spent loads of time telling stories and reading aloud which has resulted in our two teenagers being avid and enthusiastic readers. Hasn’t hurt that both parents are book hounds.

    Adult literacy programs that focus on parents and those who plan on being parents would be a great pace to spend money. You’d be more likely to benefit more than one child in the end.

  11. My wife teaches library science, communication and storytelling in the education department of her university.

    Wait, wait… you’re telling me that you can actually take classes in storytelling? Can… can you major in it? Get a graduate degree in storytelling? Please don’t think I’m being snarky, because I honest-to-Oz would go back to school for a masters in storytelling.

  12. “Is he ashamed of being caught looking at ‘My Pet Goat’ upside down?”

    I enjoy making fun of Bush as much as the next guy, but seriously Dude, that was totally an obvious photoshop job.

    It was sarcasm, Czech. I was being mean. :rolleyes:

  13. Bug-girl wrote, “sorry, my “early reading” comment was vague. I was thinking of things like this:”

    Wasn’t trying to be a nit picker, then again you may like nit pickers! And who doesn’t like getting nailed for being vague. Great article, and the statement I liked best, which of course confirms the value of my wife’s chosen profession is this,
    “Children who had engaged in hundreds of literacy events entered school understanding more about the world than children with minimal literacy events and furthermore, they excelled at the end of elementary school. Six years of schooling could not make up for the loss children suffered by not engaging in literacy events in their early lives. Wells stated that of all the activities considered possibly helpful for the acquisition of literacy, only one—listening to stories—was significantly associated with later test scores”

    So read and tell stories to all those little bugs!!!

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