Sunday, May 28, 2023

A far bigger problem than book bans? Declining literacy

 A far bigger problem than book bans? Declining literacy

Washington Post (paywalled) … this criminalization of library science dovetails with other efforts in recent years to protect students from the morally corrupting influence of woke material — as well as, at times, the morally corrupting influence of un-woke material.

 Recall that just a few years ago, much of public education discourse involved debates over whether students should be exposed to depictions of Jewish ghettoes in World War II, Klansmen in the United States, or other disturbing historical events. Objections primarily came from progressives, who argued that such materials might upset children from historically marginalized groups. As recently as 2020, “To Kill a Mockingbird” was one of the most frequently challenged books nationwide, largely because of its use of racial slurs, according to the American Library Association. 

Today, members of the same political coalition that once mocked progressives for demanding “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” wish to shield children from the potential trauma of reading “Heather Has Two Mommies.” Those who once admonished students for being snowflakes now apparently believe children are too fragile to mount a musical with a gay character — or access reference books on puberty.

 But amid debates about how children will process texts invoking racism or sexual identity, a much more basic question plagues our educational system: whether children can process texts, period…Parents around the country generally think their children have recovered from disruptions to schooling during the pandemic, surveys show

They haven’t. As of last spring, students were on average half a year behind in math and one-third of a year behind in reading, according to research from a team at Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins and the testing company NWEA. Not that the U.S. educational system was so impressive relative to those in our peer countries pre-covid, either…”

 A Judge’s Perspective on the Science and Rhetoric of the Written Word

"I Can [Read] Clearly Now" Legal Writing: A Judge's Perspective on the Science and Rhetoric of the Written Word (December 31, 2022). 22 J. App. Prac. & Proc. 157 (2022) , Available at SSRN:

“Audience. Comprehension. Recall. Those three words sum up Judge Robert E. Bacharach’s recent book, Legal Writing: A Judge’s Perspective on the Science and Rhetoric of the Written Word. Published in 2020 by the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, Judge Bacharach’s book looks at how readers are “affected by others’ language.” 

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