Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Como Reading Blues (copy)

Sorry readers, I didn’t read anything this week. I had good intentions, but things I grabbed didn’t grab me. It is sad when a librarian, with access to a whole building full of books, cannot find a single one to read. Please forgive me.

It could be that I’m a little low over recent news. Como, Mississippi, my current home and where I worked as a public librarian before moving to Northwest, is experiencing a crisis. Two weeks ago, Washington Post featured Peter Whoriskey’s article “By the Mississippi Delta: A Whole School Left Behind” and it isn’t pretty.

Como Elementary according to Whoriskey, “is at the bottom of the heap.” The school ranks as the lowest scoring elementary school in math and reading in the state of Mississippi and the nation.

This news hit me hard. This is my community, these are my people. What is wrong?

The past two weeks I’ve heard all sorts of reasons “why” from friends and neighbors in town, but also from the nation through my blog. Apparently, we need more money, better teachers, better books, more parental involvement, etc. to improve. Bah!

What we need are motivated kids. Poverty is no excuse! Those kids get a free meal in the morning and for lunch. The teacher to student ratio is as low at 14, and, just who is to say these teachers are “bad”? I can personally name four past teachers who graduated from Ole Miss and got their start in Como Elementary. As for the books, I got three grants for the school while working as the public library. These grants bought books and only books. Also, in their fine library, ran by an excellent librarian, they continue to receive new books from the Barksdale grant.

Ah, let’s blame it on the parents, working eight hours a day to clothe, feed, and raise their own. Better yet, let’s just say Granny or Auntie aren’t pulling their weight. Bah!

I’m not sure where I saw this, and I was unable to verify this information before deadline, but I heard a man on the television state, “For every year you read to your child it adds $50,000 to their income as an adult.” If that doesn’t motivate a mother to pile the kids in the car and head to the nearest library, nothing will.


Lisa said...

Maggie, I agree with you that it's easy to place blame, but the fact is that often times there are many different reasons all working together (or against)success for these kids. Wow, I knew that reading to kids was extremely important, but that figure will sure get your attention! I'm going to start looking now, but if anyone else finds where this came from, please post. I'm very interested in this. Thanks, all.

Kelly said...

I know how you feel. I have been slowly getting back into reading. Anything I picked up just wasn't working for me. I have been reading mostly pregnancy books and whatever my book club is reading lately.

Anonymous said...

Maggie, When I read your note on "A Whole School Left Behind" it made me think back to many years ago when I worked a blue-collar job. After reading your post today, I thought that you might find my experience interesting. Many years ago in my blue-collar job I worked with a man that everyone would say was very competent and skilled. Although he was very skilled, he never attempted to gain professional certification or move up in the organization. Over the years we worked together, I would drop suggestions that he should try to move up and even offered to help. One day he finally told me that he could not read. Needless to say I was astounded. Here was a man in his 40’s working in a technical field and he could not read. How was that possible? I related this story to one of my coworkers the other day after reading your original post about Como and he old me a similar story about a role model from his earlier days. I guess my point is ... could it be that these students do not have people in the home who can read to them in the early years?

Just a thought : )

maggie moran said...

Thanks Lisa, I'll keep trying to find this incredible stat, even if its &5,000! In psychology classes I used to argue w/ my professors -minor in psych and had many courses - about money being a motivator. I think it is and that stat if I can prove it would do a lot to motivate.

Maybe, times are to exciting now for you to read, MyUtopia? Better to get your sleep/rest than staying awake in a book. :)

maggie moran said...

Hunter, it very well could be!

I've ran across many patrons who needed me to tell them what something said or help them fill out paperwork. I know the man who does taxes for his friends at the library is usually b/c they can't read well enough to do it themselves. I saw the tax guys yearly, but none approach wanting to learn, either. Embarrassment, you think? But in all cases they have been males not females and around here females rule the roost. We could use a literacy council! I'll check with my friend to see if she is anywhere near getting one going.