Friday, July 30, 2010

Reading is "Fun"damental!

54% of African American fourth graders read below grade level. – National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2007 Reading Assessment
My mother reads a lot. I think she can actually sleep in a twin bed because one-half of her queen-sized bed is always full of books, magazines and newspapers. Because I followed her example, naturally I'm a reader. There's no way I could have grown into a writer without being a good reader first. People harp on the importance of math and science, but reading and writing skills are equally important. I admit I don’t love math but I can pull out a calculator or ten fingers and get by. There’s no calculator for reading and writing.

Lack of income or education is no excuse for our children to lack basic reading skills. Slaves risked severe punishment if caught learning to read. Reading for slaves meant knowledge and freedom. Slave masters knew that a literate slave was a dangerous slave. Because too many of us lack knowledge of our history and the struggles of those before us, we take the freedom of reading for granted.
Studies of individual families show that what they do to support literacy in the home is more important to student success than family income or education (Ballen & Moles, 1994).
Today even the media are too lazy to do their own research. That’s why this fiasco between Shirley Sherrod and the United States Department of Agriculture went down. No one bothered to research whether she was guilty of the words she was accused. Journalists with years of experience and a whole lot of “should’ve known damn better because they learned this crap in Journalism 101” took the words of one and ran with it. A little research would’ve prevented this uproar.

If you bring a child into this world, you are responsible for putting the time into their development. Their success in the classroom is dependent on your efforts to teach them as much as possible in their formative years.

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is the oldest and largest children's and family nonprofit literacy organization in the United States. For more information on how you can help your child with their reading skills, visit

Friday, July 9, 2010

Still No Unemployment Extension!

Although I’m one of the lucky ones who've now rejoined the ranks of the employed as of a month ago, I still identify with the 14.6 million people (yes, that many as of June, 2010) still unemployed. I get a paycheck every two weeks and that's great but it just doesn't feel the same after spending eight months unemployed during such a dire economy.  Before I was laid off last year, I took getting a paycheck for granted.  Now every check feels like it could be the last one.  You can't understand how that feels unless you've been laid off during a recession.

I kind of understand how people who survived the Depression feel.  What I can't imagine is surviving without unemployment insurance. Right now the only thing on my mind is saving money and hunkering down for the next depression.  I call it like the government won’t call it.  Let them speak the soft talk to the camera.  When I see people out of work for over a year, middle class people forced to rely on public assistance for the first time in their lives, and people waiting scared for Congress to extend unemployment benefits for fear they'll end up on the street, it’s a damn depression to me. 

Those waiting since June 2 for the next unemployment extension to be signed by Congress will be forced to wait even longer if Congress doesn't sign the extension until after their summer recess which starts August 9.  Let's hope they're not that stupid (although nothing shocks me about Congress anymore) and decide it needs to be signed as soon as they get off their 4th of July break on July 12.  I don’t understand a country that claims to be a super power but whose government does things to contradict itself time and again.  I don't think there's anything super about law makers sitting on extended vacations while so many people who put them in office are walking around with no means of income. 

What amazes me is some of the Republican senators have resorted to blaming the unemployed for being unemployed.  That's it, blame the people at the bottom for the greed from the top.  Some companies have even decided they're not going to hire anyone for a position unless they're already employed.  That is just ridiculous to me.  Thank goodness the company I work for didn't feel that way.  I'd still be sitting at home right about now and they would've missed out on a damn good person.

A reminder: just because you have a job today does not mean you will have one tomorrow.  I believe things will get worst before they get better at the rate we're going.  There's talk that thousands of people working for state and local governments will be laid off because of budget cuts at the state level.  Stop listening to what the government tells you and start reading what's going on for yourself.  This is an election year.  They will tell you anything to get reelected.  Prepare for the unexpected.