The United States has a long history of solving social problems through its public schools. We ensure that children in poverty get free lunches, breakfasts, and in some places even dinner. We use schools to eradicate childhood disease by requiring immunization. When these ambitious initiatives were first launched, we didn't even blink. We knew our children were hungry and we fed them. We knew that childhood diseases were devastating, so we did what was necessary to keep our children from harm. Yet when it comes to the most basic thing that a school is here to do, we have accepted failure decade after decade.
We do know what to do.
The worst part about this problem is that we do really know what to do. Teaching children to read is not some great mystery. Yes, the community and parents need to play a role. Yes, poverty influences this problem. But the truth is that if teachers are given the right tools and training, they can impact this tremendously in the classroom. There is money available. There are tools available that work. There are countless teachers who are desperate to get their students to a level of proficiency. Solving this problem takes focus and will. Here is a list of schools that have solved the problem. These approaches can be used all over the country, if only those in charge would move their schools in the right direction.
If we can solve homelessness, we can solve this.
Our country is in the process of solving the problem of homelessness for veterans. This started with a federal push, and then local communities taking a stand, beginning in Phoenix. The good people of Phoenix decided they would not stand for this and became determined to solve the problem. NCLB was supposed to be the federal declaration for education, and the local communities were supposed to take it from there. However, it instead became a mandate in order to receive federal funding, complete with carrots and sticks. What has been missing in reading is a moral imperative. Each community needs to decide that it is simply indecent for children to fail to learn to read. Once this is decided, we can solve this.