There was a red wave in Ohio in the last election, after Trump held many rallies there. Republicans increased their supermajority in its Senate, attained a supermajority in its House, and won both the governorship and the vacant U.S. Senate seat. Now it’s time to cash in on that political capital by targeting the Ohio education system, which ranks in the bottom half nationally in learning basic reading and arithmetic skills.
The very first bill introduced in the Ohio Senate is to take power away from an independent state board, which has failed to get the job done. This bill would allow the Republican governor to appoint a new education director to establish curriculum and strong standards for academic achievement. Rather than diffusing responsibility, this legislation would establish one person to be publicly accountable for the failure to teach youngsters how to read and add.
A bestselling book in 1955 was Why Johnny Can’t Read, and the simple answer was because schools are not using the superior method of teaching kids how to read, which is phonics. Nearly 70 years later, schools are still not using phonics, and as a result perhaps 45 million Americans cannot even fill out a ballot in order to vote as they intend. So instead some of those ballots are being filled out for them by political hacks, who are just fine with more illiteracy.
Young adults have long been bashful about never learning how to read, rather than question why some of their friends can read but they cannot. But as traditional inhibitions disappear on social media, young people are themselves beginning to ask publicly why they were not taught to read. If Republicans want to make a difference in the lives of young people and set themselves up for future electoral wins, the best thing they can do is to address the rampant illiteracy crisis that is hitting poorer communities the hardest. Once a child learns to read, the world is theirs for the taking. They can think, grow, and learn beyond what they are told by broken institutions. Without reading, they are trapped in a life of struggle and mediocrity. We must unlock reading to unlock their full potential.