LeBron James and Education

Despite anyone else’s personal opinions about the man’s performance and decisions on the basketball court and his balling life and career, I know of no better high-profile role model for youth (and adults) in the sports or entertainment professions than LeBron James.

This multi-award-winning Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was drafted after his unprecedented third selection to the All-USA first team high school hoops squad in 2003.  His pro career began and he won Rookie of the Year, showing the world his dedication to the game.

Two years later he established The LeBron James Family Foundation that initially held a bike-a-thon to raise money for various philanthropic activities.  The Foundation expanded their bike-a-thon to become the Wheels for Education (WFE) program and include an academic piece. The paid and volunteer staff have assisted hundreds of students achieve a better life, especially through the “I Promise” aspect of the program.

Each year, LeBron and his Foundation select third grade students to become members of WFE. They start their year with a two-week technology camp co-sponsored by the Akron After School program and the Foundation.  During the academic year, students receive support, encouragement and whatever intervention is needed.  But it doesn’t end there.  Assistance continues to their high school graduation.

However, he decided that it did not end there.

Earlier this year, LeBron’s Foundation made the announcement that the University of Akron (UA) and he, through the Foundation, would provide scholarships to as many as 2,300 students to the university beginning in 2021.

That is quite a commitment and says much about the man.

In addition, UA established the LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education where UA President Scott Scarborough said, “You can come to LeBron’s college and become a teacher, help kids succeed in life.”

As to the man himself and his relationship to the WFE students … here is an example of a message he sends to them, this portion of one is from Sept 29, 2015, titled “On Time”:

“How has school been going? Is everyone arriving to school and class ON TIME? Remember that’s a big part of our PROMISE. Early is on-time, on-time is late, and late is… you don’t want me to find out you’re late!!!

“It’s very important to me that you are setting the right example for my Wheels for Ed kids. They are looking up to you. If you’re doing the right thing, they’ll do the right thing.

“Continue to set the example for your classmates.

“Your friend,

“LeBron”

While I am definitely aware of many who do good works, it would be great to see more athletes and celebrities serve others with undertakings of this size and scope.

Over For Now.

Main Street One

School House Pork Does Not Solve The Illiteracy Epidemic

There have been several articles written the past several years about earmarks for education.

While it might be argued that some may be worthwhile it appears that a majority of them could have been eliminated without any harm to educating youth in America.

Especially when one considers the epidemic of illiteracy that persists with 85% of all juvenile offenders lacking basic reading and math skills and one high school student dropping out every 29 seconds.

Does it make sense to, in one year, fund zoos in the amount of $2.7 million in the name of “education?” Do Hall of Fames for Rock and Roll, Baseball and Aviation deserve to garner over one million dollars instead of teaching students how to read?

The fact that both parties deem it worthwhile to attach billions of dollars annually in education earmarks without addressing the vital need to get American students back to basics with systematic and explicit phonics so that they are able to read proficiently is criminal.

Factually, it would cost a fraction of what “image pork” besets taxpayers.

What is meant by Image Pork? How about Congress passing an earmark, using taxpayer dollars, in the amount of $1.9 million for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service or $19 million for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate or $2.4 million for the Lott Leadership Institute or $10 million for the Strom Thurmond Fitness and Wellness Center.

Why would any reasonable person sitting on Capitol Hill believe that their name is worth more than properly educating children in America how to read?

Education “reform” is not needed. Political reform definitely is required.

It is time to eliminate earmarks of all nature as they are special interest in nature and burden each and every citizen with a pricetag to pay.

More importantly, it is time to ensure students in America are properly educated how to read because, as Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

Over For Now.

Main Street One

Education Standards 101

In the recent report noted by AP (Oct 29, 2009 – Report: States set low bar for student achievement) there are no earth-shattering revelations.

It has been known for some time that education standards set by each state vary widely.

However, this information is probably not something about which most Main Street USAers are particularly aware.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), part of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), produces “The Nation’s Report Card” outlining findings of annual student assessment. State standards were compared to the NAEP standards in determining the differences.

Here are a few facts reported by AP:
• Thirty-one states deemed fourth-graders proficient in reading when they would have rated below basic on NAEP. Mississippi’s standards were lowest, and Massachusetts’ were highest.
• Seventeen states deemed eighth-graders proficient at reading when they would have rated below basic on NAEP. Tennessee’s standards were lowest, and South Carolina’s were highest.
• Ten states deemed fourth- and eighth-graders proficient at math when they would have rated below basic on NAEP. Tennessee’s standards were lowest; Massachusetts had the highest fourth-grade math standards, and South Carolina had the highest eighth-grade standards

The standards (from highest to lowest) are: Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic.

Thus, when states are reporting students as Proficient, when in fact they are Below Basic, there is definite cause for concern.

Before continuing, please be advised that Basic does not necessarily mean that a student knows their “basics.” That word is misleading. Students testing at Basic are not at their grade level. More than likely they are one to two grades below, possibly more for older students.

What is amazing is that 60% of the states report students in 4th grade as being Proficient when they are actually Below Basic, or substantially below their grade level.

To revert this President Obama, Secretary of Education Duncan and a host of others are calling for Educational Reform. A much vocalized part of this reform are things like longer school days and perhaps no or much shorter summer vacation.

Main Streeters, it is NOT reform (i.e., to change to a better state, form, etc.; improve by alteration, substitution, abolition, etc) that is needed.

It needs to be reiterated that what is needed to halt the decline in our educational prowess is, quite simply and remarkably, to return to the basics: Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, formerly known as the 3 R’s: reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.

The National Institute of Justice claims that 85% of juvenile offenders have problems with reading, writing and basic math and that well over 65% of adults in prison are functionally or marginally illiterate.

The 3 R’s must be slammed back in with a vengeance.

Get rid of philosophical beliefs that a child’s self esteem is hurt if they are told that they have failed, so pass them to the next grade and make them feel good.

Yeah, they’ll feel “good.”

But they cannot read.

They cannot write.

They cannot perform basic math problems.

How irresponsible is it to not provide the best education possible and, instead, point fingers at teachers, at parents, at administrators, etc., to avert the blame.

Wake Up Everybody!

We are ALL to blame. We ALL allowed this slow transition to mediocrity.

And we are paying for it. Every day, in every way.

Campaign to get the 3 R’s back in our schools. Accept nothing less. Vote out anyone who opposes the idea. And have them take the 1895 8th Grade Final Exam from Salina, KS, and watch as they score below 50%, probably between 30-40%. http://www.barefootsworld.net/1895finalexam.html

Tell them that back in 1895 we taught the 3 R’s, had summer vacations and that Main Street USA enjoyed a very high level of educational competence.

Over For Now,

Main Street One

Longer School Days, The Solution?

First President Obama states that children in the U.S. need longer school days.

Then Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who is in Philadelphia visiting schools with Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton, says (per the Philadelphia Inquirer): “Our school calendar’s based on a 19th century agrarian economy. I’m sure there weren’t too many kids in Philadelphia working in their parents’ fields this summer.”

The above statement by Duncan is true; school in America is based on an agrarian calendar. Summer was a time for children to assist their family in the fields, harvesting, and the like.

Don’t get me wrong; I do not particularly have an issue with children attending school longer.

And I do know there are researchers that say adding even short amounts to of time to a curriculum, such as math, raises test scores.

What I take exception to is that the root of America’s educational crisis is NOT a short school day.

Witness, we have been on the agrarian calendar for education since schools were formed.

The U.S., under this system and schedule, did lead the world in education for decades and decades.

Thus, changing the school day schedule or the number of days in school is not the answer. It may help some, but it is not THE answer.

What is?

Basics.

Pure and simple, the basics of education.

The Three R’s: reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.

Youth today have not learned their basics. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

National test scores, as collected and averaged by the National Center for Education Statistics, show slight, only slight, increases in reading and mathematic scores in all grade levels of students tested the last four decades.

The vast majority of students cannot perform a multiplication table.

Whole word reading displaced phonics as the way to teach students to read, despite the fact the National Reading Panel (which reviewed over 100,000 studies on reading) states unequivocally that the use of phonics is the best way to accomplish this task.

Student comprehension is low, as dictionaries, which used to be in classrooms in mass quantities, have all but disappeared from the educational scene.

Main Street USA, the problem is NOT the number of hours a child spends in school.

The problem IS what and how our children are being taught while they attend.

And this problem has been staring us in the face for decades.

Our youth need to be taught the basics.

Teaching those basics is the best way to halt student dropout, of which there are 3,000 students who leave school PER DAY.

“In Philadelphia, for instance, about half of all students cannot read or do math on grade level. The dropout rate hovers around 50 percent as well,” states the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Keep in mind that the National Institute of Justice reported that 85% of all juvenile offenders lack basic reading and math skills.

Food for thought.

Over For Now,

Main Street One