This week, I was with a group of pastors in Ames discussing literacy in our schools. The startling statistic is that between 20 and 25% of our city’s public schools’ third graders can not read at a third grade level. This is ominous news because research has shown that after third grade a shift takes place. Teachers stop teaching students to learn to read and start helping them read to learn. If a child can’t read by the end of third grade, he or she will get farther and farther behind in school. Research has shown that students who still can’t read after third grade are less likely to graduate from high school and enroll in college. As a community we should make every effort to increase the number of literate third graders in our public schools from only 75% to as close to 100% as possible. See study here.
One of the pastors from our area (who incidentally owns no property and pays no property taxes) declared that the solution to the fact that 25% of third graders from our schools can’t read is simple: increase property taxes, create a new government program, require by law that students to attend. He was cheered by several of the pastors.
I say NO! That’s what we are doing now. Why do we think that doing more of the same will have different results? As believers, especially as pastors, let’s not immediately turn to the government to solve community problems. Rather than passing on responsibility to the government, let’s take opportunity as believers to express Christian concern for the needy in our community.
See post from the next meeting of this group: A simple solution for local poverty and the fiscal cliff?