Back in late 2022, the Arkansas state House of Representatives put out a report that said there were 300,000 adults in my state who did not have a high school diploma. This story and report were carried in our local newspaper.
Can you believe that? In a state with only 3 million people, and this includes children, there are 300,000 adults who did not graduate from high school. When I read this, I said to myself, "This is totally unacceptable to me."
Since it is "unacceptable," with God's help, and hopefully your help, I am going to do something about it. The first step is "awareness," since I don't believe most people in Arkansas know about this. Educators say if a child is not reading at grade level by the third grade, the odds are high they won't graduate from high school. Another important point is to let you know that most of the nations in the world that have been subjugated by other nations are those with high rates of illiteracy.
In these days of high technology, illiterate individuals in our society do not have a prayer when it comes to achieving real success. Sadly, this is where you find those who are filling our minimum-wage jobs. Another point that affects all of us is when an illiterate adult sees others doing so much better and living a higher standard of living, he or she becomes bitter. This is where a lot of our crime is coming from, and this includes the murders and mass shootings that we see on the news almost every single day.
The good news is we CAN do something about it. Now, I say "we" because it is obvious that I can't do it alone. As a starting point, here is something all of us literate people can do. In 1955, 81% of our parents read to or with their children. Now, that number is about 21%. Parents and grandparents, you are encouraged to read to your children and grandchildren, and also buy them good age-appropriate books. This is why our "Bookcase for Every Child" project is so vitally important.
My new book titled "Your Future Begins Today," which has been developed into a Character Education course is based on the fact that a child in preschool and kindergarten will be given "mega" doses of vocabulary and reading skills. When this is implemented properly, it will reduce school dropouts dramatically, as most high school dropouts are the result of a child not learning to read well in the lower elementary grades. More on this as time goes by, but as of today, if you have a preschool or elementary child in your family, set aside some time each day to read to them. Even 10 to 15 minutes each day will make a difference.
To summarize what I am saying, while I finished high school and have about a year and a half of college, I was not the best student in the world. It has only been in the past several years that I have become an avid reader. This is simply to say there is hope for any of us who will take the time to read and be careful in selecting what we read. The only thing we don't have more of is time. My very best, Jim.