The Nation’s Report Card, released in March, revealed that gains in reading achievement are lagging far behind those made in mathematics (New York Times, March 24, 2010). While numerous theories have been set forth to explain this lack of progress, experts have been unable to come to a consensus.
So… I decided to investigate for myself and find out…
Why are students having such a difficult time with reading?
I began my investigation at the local mall. I found 2 teens willing to be interviewed, providing that I maintained a steady flow of a strange substance that seemed to be a combination of cardboard, grease, and unidentifiable animal parts. They called it pizza. I don’t know why.
My subjects were a teen boy and a teen girl. But I had to ask, and I am not entirely sure that they were telling me the truth. The boy(?) introduced himself as Homeboy Funk Doggy Dog, Grand Master Cheddar Slice, Jay to the K, Down by the Bay, Even in May, Puffness the Third. I just called him Ray. The girl introduced herself as Beth. I called her Wilma.
Here is the transcript of our interview:
Me: Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss this issue with me. I can’t understand why teens have gotten such bad press for being uncommunicative and uncooperative.
Me: Okay… So, why do you think that reading scores are suffering across the nation.
Me: Ummm… did you just say I D K?
Me: Why? Um… would it be okay if I ask the questions here?
Me: I… I don’t really understand what you are saying.
Wilma: OMG! UGTBK
Me: Do you need a doctor?
At this point, for reasons I was never able to ascertain, Wilma dropped to the ground and began rolling across the floor, laughing hysterically. After bouncing off 2 trash cans, 7 discount jewelry kiosks, and a sale sign for “Bob’s Bargain Beaverskin Bags (We Have Prada!)”, Wilma rolled out the door, screaming “TTFN!”
Me: What… just…
Ray: That’s whack.
Ray: You know.. buggin’.
Me: Whatever. Would you mind if I ask you a few questions?
Me: Okay. National reading scores are lagging significantly behind math scores.
Ray: I feel you.
Me: Um.., please don’t. I am trying to find out why reading scores are suffering. Would you mind sharing your thoughts?
Ray: Yo dawg, it’s the teachers! They always dissing us and gettin’ all up in the kool aid. Why can’t they just go big up on us sometime, ya know? They need to make readin’ more kev’d up, really off the hook. And they need to let us just holla now and then, ‘stead of keepin’ us all zipped. That’d be da bomb, true dat. The teachers… they need to square up.
Me: Uh.. wait.. let me write this down… teachers are dogs… dissing your kool aid… Kevin’s zipper got hooked on a bomb…
Ray: Man, why you gotta punk me like dat? Don’t you listen? ‘Nuf o’dat… I’m gonna bounce.
Strangely, Ray didn’t bounce. But he did get up and walk out of the mall, dragging about 3 yards worth of extra pants leg material behind him. As I watched him leave, I began to wonder… could the problems with reading really just be a communication issue? Are we simply not taking the time to really listen to America’s youth? And most important of all… can I make it to Bob’s Bargain Beaverskin Bags before the mall closes?
That would be… groovy.