Reading and Children


First, nobody “attacked” the child.  Nobody “mocked” the child.  Nobody “mocked” the content of the books.  They are perfectly fine books—for a three-year-old.

We attacked you, Nicole.  We mock you.  You and Joe are abysmally awful parents.

But I want to play your other game.  Reading and children. That’s the subject, is it?

You quote some stats. You don’t link to any of them, so they are relatively difficult to ferret out.

However, you make some really contradictory statements in there.  First, you insist that reading scores are dropping.  Then, at the end of the next paragraph, you say that “stats haven’t changed much in the past decade.”

Which is it?  Are they dropping?  Or are they staying the same?

Well, the fact is that they are staying the same.  Or at least, that’s how it appears.  There doesn’t appear to be data to tell us what has been going on in the past decade or so, but for the decade prior to that, it held steady.

Now maybe you have data I don’t, Nicole, but you didn’t cite it. You just asserted shit without bothering to tell us where you got it beyond saying “according to the NEAP.”  I don’t care to spend my entire afternoon searching through that website to find that wee bit of info, so I will sort of ignore it.  I suspect you didn’t either.

I suspect you visited some pro-homeschooling (or more likely, pro-unschooling) site and just did a bit of copy and paste.

However, if you look at the stats, they are instructive.

For instance, you blithely quote:

Only 25% of college graduates are deemed proficient.

And then you start the hand-wringing.

But what does that mean, actually?  What is “proficient” when it comes to this data?

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It means really, really good at it. So that 25% figure is not what Nicole thinks it is.  She’s implying that 75% of college graduates are functionally illiterate and that is simply not the case at all.

I knew when I read what she wrote that she was totally misinterpreting the data terribly.  It’s impossible for 75% of college graduates to be unable to read adequately, especially in light of this.

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If 75% of college graduates couldn’t even read, why would they consistently make more money and be more employable than those who hadn’t attained those levels of education?  Why would an employer pay somebody that much more money if they couldn’t function on the job?

If 75% of college graduates couldn’t read, they also wouldn’t have been able to learn any history or much math or much of anything else. They wouldn’t be any more educated than a high school dropout. Yet they consistently earn more than twice as much.

Either employers across America are colossal dumbasses or something is wrong with Nicole’s assumption.

In addition, about 10% of college students in the US come from other countries. Now, either they are extremely stupid and come here to spend lots of money for a very sub-par education where they might not even be able to read when they get done, or something is wrong with Nicole’s assumption.

That’s why I knew that “proficient” didn’t mean what she thought it meant.

That does not mean that “proficient” means the exact same thing regardless of the testing or data you are looking at.  But it does mean that college graduates pretty much know how to read.

She laments:

. . . reading levels aren’t improving and children and even adults aren’t reading for pleasure.

I dunno about that.  I mean, I am not disputing the whole “people don’t read for pleasure” thing, except I would suggest that you need to define “read for pleasure” more specifically.

I am a reader.  A really big reader. I have been ever since the day I was taught how to sound out vowels.  I am a college graduate. I read for pleasure. I enjoy fiction, non-fiction, the phone book, recipe books, I don’t care. I read.

My husband is also a college graduate. He does not read books. We’ve been married for 46 years. I do not remember him ever reading an entire book for pleasure in that whole time.  He reads parts of books.  He looks up stuff. He’s completely literate. He graduated with honors. He reads to keep up with the news. He just can’t bear reading fiction.

“Reading for pleasure” is a great thing. I don’t know how people like Dave survive without doing so.  I just know that they can and do and they are often completely and totally literate.

One thing (reading for pleasure) does not equal the other thing (literacy).

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Here’s some newer figures from the ebil gubmint.  In this case, what is “proficient”?  Does this mean that only about a third of grade-school students can read or do math?


There’s the definition. You decide what that means.

And remember, factored into all this are all the students, not just a select group. So special-needs students count, those who are struggling, and they skew the percentages down.  You’re never going to see percentages in the 90’s or even in the eighties no matter what.


Just as an aside, if you find this stuff interesting, take a look at the page I’ve snipped from and scroll through it.

Then come back and try to tell me education doesn’t matter.

So the argument for stricter homeschool laws completely missed the bigger picture.

And there comes the Great Leap.

Nicole’s assertion seems to be that since most college graduates are illiterate, unschooling is therefore marvelous.

This is ridiculous, of course.

Here are the US rates of illiteracy.

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Note that, 14%.  This is with 91% of our population completing high school.

But here are countries that rely heavily on “unschooling.”


Going to school in one of those countries is tough. Most people can’t.  In many of them, women don’t go ever, period.

But Nicole has told us, time and again, that kids will just learn to read all by themselves. They don’t need any damn teachers.  They just learn.

Why don’t they learn in Afghanistan?  Why don’t they learn in Chad?

And if they just learn all by themselves, why is she even having the conversation at all?  What’s the point?  Just leave the kids alone, like she does, and they too will be reading books intended for three-year-olds when they are nearly ten.