Former Teacher Says America Isn’t Making A ‘Big Enough’ Deal About Its Current Literacy Crisis

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A former teacher and assistant principal is sounding the alarm on what she describes as a literacy crisis in America, asserting that the gravity of the situation is not being adequately addressed.

“Our children cannot read,” the educator stated in a viral TikTok video that has garnered over 3 million views. “Let alone writing a paragraph, let alone comprehension, they cannot read. They do not know how to sound words out.” The woman, who has taught middle and high school, lamented that children are not being taught essential reading skills. She addressed the practice of promoting students who are illiterate to the next grade level instead of providing them with the necessary support. “Our next changemakers, our next lawmakers, our next voters, cannot read,” she said.

While test scores for reading have remained stagnant for the past decade, the teacher noted a significant decline since the pandemic. Last year, the National Assessment of Education Progress, often referred to as “the nation’s report card,” revealed that not even half of fourth graders in the U.S. scored at or above a proficient level in reading. The rates are even more alarming for Black students, with only 17% performing proficiently in their fourth-grade year as of 2022.

In January, The Education Trust shed light on the deeply rooted systemic issue of denying educational access to Black individuals, a troubling legacy woven into the fabric of the nation’s history. Oppressive anti-literacy laws once barred enslaved and even free Black Americans from acquiring reading and writing skills despite many courageously defying these unjust regulations at immense personal peril. In the aftermath of slavery’s abolition in 1865, when Black communities established freedpeople’s schools, white Southerners responded with violence, attacking or razing more than 600 schoolhouses, perpetuating the cycle of marginalization and suppression.

“They been knew the babies couldn’t read and didn’t care,” the ex-teacher asserted, suggesting that acknowledgment of the crisis came after test scores plummeted post-pandemic. She also highlighted the reintroduction of balanced reading, also known as phonics, to the educational curriculum, which may have come as a surprise to some who may have been unaware of its previous absence.


America is in a literacy crisis 📚! Note: This post is meant to be informative. I included mostly headlines from news articles to hopefully assist with where to start with your research. I hope this is helpful and starts a real dialogue on the state our education system. #literacy #scienceofreading #education #booktok #equity #phonics #blacktiktok #poc #america #usa #crisis

♬ original sound – 🍯

The educator challenges parents to remove distractions like tablets and cellphones and instead invest time practicing fundamental reading skills such as letter recognition and sounds with their children. She further encourages parents to make reading with their children a priority. Furthermore, she urged parents and guardians who are privileged to have the ability to take time off work to attend PTSA meetings and stay informed on policies being passed. “They are banking on the fact that parents and families are not going to show up,” she said. “Particularly Black and brown children, they know families can’t or won’t show up.”

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