Wow, I have already lost perspective! It’s so easy as a teacher to slip into the academic demands of what is expected of you. Makes sense, right? I have done my job if each student makes a years worth of progress during the school year.
Josh and I had a great conversation last night. I have been so cynical lately. I’ve been making up excuses as to why my students are having a hard time learning. If I already have my mind made up that they can’t do it, then they won’t. Also, these students have rough home lives! Many of them live in trailer parks, their parents work three jobs, their parents abandoned them, etc. My opportunity to make a difference in the community is huge in my role at the school where I am teaching.
Not only do I have an opportunity make a huge impact because of where I teach, but also what I teach. I teach fourth grade reading and writing. There is a shocking correlation between literacy and a student’s future.
- 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.
- Students who don’t read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school.
- Nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, proving that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime. More than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate.
I found those statistics here.
If students aren’t on level for reading at the end of the fourth grade, their chances of ending up in jail or on welfare are HUGE! Something needs to be done. At my church in Austin, Hill Country Bible Church, they started a program called Literacy Partners. Once a week, volunteers would go to an assigned elementary school and read with a student who was struggling with reading. They saw an improvement in these students reading. I don’t have the statistics on that right now, but trust me, it happened.
It’s time to make a difference. It’s time to focus on relationship. These students have much more at stake than not knowing how to read. They have their whole lives on the line.