Asheville Citizen Times
January 22, 2011
Education has always been important for achieving a fulfilling life. Today, education is far more than important; it is absolutely crucial.
This is because, over the past several decades, the economic benefits of education have grown by leaps and bounds. According to David Brooks of the New York Times, college graduates in 1979 made on average 39 percent more than a high school graduate. Know what it is today? Double! If you earn a BA, chances are you will earn 75 percent more than your neighbor who has only a high school diploma.
This is true because technology in America has forever changed the kind of jobs available in the work place. During the 1990s, technological change began accelerating to the point that today we can no longer learn on the job and then assume our job will stay the same for the next 30 years. Technology now requires us to constantly gain new knowledge as well as the skill to think critically. In fact, research now shows that education, and the skill it makes possible, is the most potent predictor of success in life.
If the path to success is education, then the journey starts in infancy. The hard fact is that parents who are not high school or college graduates speak many fewer words to their children, have few or no books in their homes and do not read to their children from an early age. For these children, the chance they will graduate from high school, much less college, is slim. This is because sixty-eight percent of such Asheville children do not read proficiently by third grade, and grade by grade they fall farther behind. Many just drop out.
We can rail all we want at the top 1% of CEOs, bankers, and financial gurus about the inequities in our country. Sure, there’s a huge gap between the top and the rest of us. But no amount of regulatory clamp down on Wall Street (even though it may be a good move) will change the miserable future for hundreds of thousands of our children. If they can’t read by grade 3, their chance of a fulfilling life will be dramatically limited. If you want to see graduation rates improve, help a five or six year old learn to read.
All it takes is an hour and a half a week as a Read to Succeed reading coach. You will receive intensive training and then be matched with an underachieving first grader at an Asheville Elementary School. You will tutor your child for two 45-minute sessions per week until he or she reaches 3rd grade at reading level. All the while you will receive on-going training and support from your peers and our master tutors. Please join our next training session which starts on February 21; call Julie Sherman at 828-251-4949 for more information.
There are many ways we can fight inequality. One of them is helping a child learn to read—change happens one child at a time. Please join the coaches as they work toward a bright future for all our children.