First, I would like to state I am completely in full support of President Barack Obama and am pleased the American People value him and elected him as our President. President Obama may well be the first person in U.S. Government to cut through the fog of lies, broken promises and has set upon reality as the barometer of his success.
As I read through the Urban League Report, the stats did not phase me. I live near Oakland, CA. There was nothing in the statistics that, even as a casual observer, one could find untrue. Having taught in Oakland, I might have to say the statistics may be on the low side of truth, however I do not know the degree of variance the studies for this report used.
After reading the suggestions, I was surprised to find nothing about a literacy component.
I would like to suggest that if you collect Welfare, you MUST attend literacy classes to continue receiving Welfare and you need to volunteer a minimum number of hours a month within your community for Medical/Medicare and Welfare. I believe, at a minimum, it is a reaonable expectation for people to pursue education in good times and bad, especially if my tax dollars are being used to support them.
It is rather difficult to train people for a job if they are illiterate. It is nearly impossible for people to have the necessary reasoning of money if they have not passed through Algebra, which requires literacy.
As a teacher, I am often amazed at how many parents are unemployed and do not make it a point to (1) volunteer at their childs school (2) attend parenting classes (3) attend adult literacy classes at any public library, and yet they expect me and my teacher colleagues to make a dent in educating their children. Education must be valued – it can not be instilled by physically being at school. Literacy takes work – it takes more work the older you get as your brain changes after the age of 10 years in ways neuroscientists don’t entirely understand, but know that learning language, any language – including sign, is very important to overall educational success. This is the reason pre-school is so vital.
When I look at third world countries, with higher literacy rates than America, I am shocked. Being successful in America takes a minimum amount of effort and education, grades pre-K to 12 is all but free, with many charter schools offering college level courses at the Gr 9-12 level. We have community colleges, libraries, resources beyond imagination.
Having been a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia, SW Africa (and learning Si-Lozi, the mother tongue of the region I volunteered in as Peace Corps requires you to be able to marginally communicate with the population you serve – and this is really a reasonable request) and watching students walk 5-10 KM on dirt roads with no shoes in heat and rain, to obtain a rudimentary education post- apartheid, as well as these same children having one pair of clothes – on their body, which are cleaned when the child bathes in the river and takes off theirclothes to wash them, eat donated food from UNICEF, USAID, etc. and having children with distended bellies from extreme malnutrition and dehydration and disease, seeing a country where Polio is alive and well, in spite of WHO trying to get it completely under control and being relentless in this pursuit – I can not accept Americans who whine, who can’t seem to pull it together.
I have long been past the excuses of hardship. I have seen 48 hours of civil war in Namibia…..having this experience under my belt, excuses in America by ordinary citizens is abhorent.
Please, President Obama and Mr. A. Duncan – consider adding requirements of literacy and community volunteering to collecting Welfare. Make education something people value enough to actually put forth a modicum of effort.