Letter to the Editor: Teenage Literacy

Dear Editor,Recent studies showed that 16.2% of American teenagers scored below theminimum level of literacy, math, and science. This, according to theUNICEF world education rankings.In the land of oil and apple pie, where have we gone wrong? Do we blamethe schools. No, our education issue relies on choices made outside ofschool.Of the twenty-five richest countries included in the UNICEF study, theUnited States finished nearly last. So what did top ranked countries likeSouth Korea and Finland do different? One answer is government andconsumer spending. Finland has one of the strongest state funded school systems in the world;in addition to their stellar health care and welfare systems. Finlandcitizens do not pay a cent for any level of their schooling. Thisincludes medical and law school.Indeed people in Finland pay much higher taxes then we do. Nearly half oftheir income goes to taxes, compared to 30% for Americans. However, wouldit be so hard to cut into the 70% we spend on consumer goods? Somehow thecrazy Finns’s consume much less than the average American with nationalincome approximately 30% lower then the U.S.’sThis is asking a lot. For now the answer lies in the homes of theseteenagers. The UNICEF studies agree. Education is not only taught in theclassroom, but around the dinner table.In this time of war and economic trouble Americans must not lose site ofwhat is really important. What teenagers learn outside of school is asimportant as what they learn inside. The future relies on what we instillin our children now, so that they make the right decisions.Sincerely,Reed ConferPO Box 502Keuka Park, NY 14478Daytime Phone: 315-279-8453Hometown: Clarks Summit, PA

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