Talking Points: Stop the Education Cop Out

Tonight’s Talking Points memo is about education again.

Yesterday's memo reported the shocking statistic that 60 percent of American fourth graders who are poor can't read. And if you're a black fourth grader, the statistic is 63 percent.

Responding to my criticism of the public schools, Debbie Zacchio, who lives in Avon, Connecticut, writes:

"Bill, you have a lot of nerve blaming teachers for the lack of reading skills in fourth graduate students. Education starts at home and it is not the sole responsibility of teachers to teach kids to read."

Well, with all due respect, Ms. Zacchio, you are right about only one thing, that I have a lot of nerve. Let's walk through it. Millions of Americans dismiss problems with children, saying that their parents are to blame. This is a copout. There are so many flat out bad parents in America you can't even count them. And society can't do anything about them. But you don't just throw away their kids.

The government must insist on standards in the public schools. I taught high school and I had some pretty tough kids in my classes. Never once did I call a parent on the phone. I demanded, note the word demanded, that the student perform in my class or the kid flunked, and if he flunked, he wasn't promoted to the next grade.

That's the way it has to be in America's public schools. If a child cannot read, he does not get out of the second grade. If the reading problem persists, he is put in a special class for the learning challenged or whatever term they're using these days. It is flat out wrong for society to not help a child because the kid has ignorant parents. Think about that.

Social problems will never be solved if children from bad homes are not given intense instruction in the public schools. Saving troubled kids is perhaps the hardest thing society is called upon to do and you can't save them all. But you don't let a kid who can't read advance in any American school. That is irresponsible and disgraceful and that is happening at a frightening rate when it comes to the poor. It has to stop.

And that's the memo.

Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Our pal, Barbra Streisand, is really angry these days now that her boys have been booted out of office. She doesn't like Republicans at all.

So according to U.S. News and World Report magazine, Barbra sounded out some other Hollywood lefties, like Warren Beatty and Norman Lear, about buying a cable news operation and turning it into the Democrat channel.

Nobody is really embracing the idea because it's kind of ridiculous. Barbra Streisand, Warren Beatty, and all those showbiz people with strong opinions are always welcome right here, on the highest-rated cable news program in the world. And we won't charge them a penny.

So, what do you say, Barbra? Anytime you want, The Factor is here for you.

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