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Enslaving Ourselves By Majority Rule

Public Schools -
Public Prisons










By Joel Turtel

December 16, 2007

It may seem obvious to many people why literacy is so important in our technologically advanced society. However, many parents may not fully realize the emotional pain and life-long damage illiteracy can cause their children. Literacy, the ability to read well, is the foundation of children’s education. If children can’t read well, every subject they try to learn will frustrate them. If they can’t read math, history, or science textbooks, if they stumble over the words, they will soon give up reading out of frustration. Asking children who are poor readers to study these subjects is like asking them to climb a rope with one arm.

Kids learn to read in their most formative years, which is why reading can profoundly affect their self-esteem. When children learn to read, they also start learning how to think abstractly, because words convey ideas and relationships between ideas. How well they read therefore affects your children’s feelings about their ability to learn. This in turn affects how your kids feel about themselves generally — whether they think they are smart or stupid. Children who struggle with reading often blame themselves and feel ashamed of themselves.

As Donald L. Nathanson, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Jefferson Medical College noted: “First reading itself, and then the whole education process, becomes so imbued with, stuffed with, amplified, magnified by shame that children can develop an aversion to everything that is education.”

Often, poor readers will struggle just to graduate from high school. They can lose general confidence in themselves, and therefore the confidence to try for college or pursue a career. Their job opportunities can dry up. Their poor reading skills and low self-confidence can strangle their ability to earn money. They can struggle financially their whole lives. If they marry and have children, they can struggle even more.

Life for illiterate adults can easily degenerate into misery, poverty, failure, and hopelessness. According to a 1992 study by the National Institute for Literacy, “43 % of Americans with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty and 70 % have no job or a part-time job. Only 5% of Americans with strong literacy skills live in poverty.”

As Dr. Grover Whitehurst, former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, said, “Reading is absolutely fundamental. It’s almost trite to say that. But in our society, the inability to be fluent consigns children to failure in school and consigns adults to the lowest strata of job and life opportunities.”


Illiteracy also perpetuates social injustice. It keeps many low-income black, hispanic, and other inner-city minorities in poverty. It perpetuates the cycle of failure in minority communities. It pushes many minority children into drugs and crime, because too often they don’t see any other way out of their poverty. As David Boulton, organizational learning theorist and co-producer of the Children of the Code PBS Television Documentary Series, noted:

“Even if you cut the numbers in half, statistically, more children are at risk of suffering long-term life harm from the consequences of not learning to read well than from parental abuse, accidents, and all known childhood diseases and disorders combined. Even if you cut the numbers in half, the national cost of reading-related difficulties is greater than the cost of the wars on crime, drugs, and terror combined.”

That is what illiteracy can mean, what it does mean for millions of public-school children who can barely read. Does any parent want this kind of future for his or her children? Do you want this kind of future for your child?

Well, consider the following about public schools and illiteracy.

In most public schools today, the schools still use variations of a reading-instruction method called “whole-language.” The schools often disguise this fact by calling their teaching methods “balanced-literacy” instruction or some other name they dream up to throw smoke into parent’s eyes. Whole-language, or any variation of it, is reading-instruction poison. It can and does literally cripple your child’s ability to read. It is an anti-phonics program that forces children to “read” by memorizing what words “look” like, as if the words were pictures, rather than by sounding out the letters of words with phonics.

The disastrous whole-language “reading” instruction method continues to cripple millions of public-school children’s ability to read, and therefore cripples their future. It could be crippling your child’s ability to read, right now.

Parents, have you investigated how your local public school teaches your child to read? Do you see any real progress with your child’s reading and writing skills, after years of mind-numbing public-school classes? Do your children’s writing assignments get glowing “A” and “B” marks from their public-school teachers, but your children’s writing looks like chicken scrawl, and their reading skills are pathetic?

If so, I ask you this question again: Have you investigated how your local public school teaches your child to read? Have you demanded to sit in on your child’s classes while the teacher gives “reading” instruction to her class? Don’t you think that would be a good idea?

Finally, you love your children and want the best for them. Do you want their lives crippled by illiteracy, aided and abetted by your local public school?

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The best solution? Consider taking your child out of public school, permanently, before it is too late. There are great new and low-cost education alternatives you can take advantage of, right now. These include low-cost internet private schools, easy homeschooling curriculum, parent-group neighborhood schools, and the unbelievable K-12 education resources on the internet and computer software. Isn’t your child’s future worth looking into these alternatives?

© 2007 Joel Turtel - All Rights Reserved

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Joel Turtel, author of Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children, holds a degree in Psychology. For the last ten years he has served as an Education Policy Analyst, studying the climate of today's public schools and its effect on children and parents.

Mr. Turtel has written two books, published over fifty articles, and has been interviewed in both print and broadcast media on the subject. His latest book, Public Schools, Public Menace has garnered national media attention – recently, for example, Dr. Laura Schlessinger featured the book on her nationally syndicated radio show.

Joel Turtel is available to discuss his book Public Schools, Public Menace in the media, at conferences, or with individual groups. Be warned though, you may be shocked by the revelations he has uncovered in America's public-school system.

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Kids learn to read in their most formative years, which is why reading can profoundly affect their self-esteem. When children learn to read, they also start learning how to think abstractly, because words convey ideas and relationships between ideas.