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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

August Odds and Ends

Thanks For All of Your Engaged Comments on TXTing

I am no closer to knowing whether it is a language-in-formation, or a temporary-result-of-technological-limitation, but I do know more from those of you who make use of it. Now for some August annoucements — we have an exciting new work in progress coming — I hope by next week. Once again I urge any of you who are in the process of researching, writing, selecting images, editing, or designing nonfiction to email me. I’d love for readers to hear from you as you make decisions and solve problems. 

Earlier this year I wrote about the fact that, nationally, just 50% of African Americans who enter high school gradate (at all, not just within 6 years). Some of you commented on that, well how about this: A study released Feb. 25 by Michigan State University researchers found a 31.9% graduation rate for Detroit Public Schools students–just 25% for boys, and 39% for girls. The Detroit number is for all students, of any background. The various articles about the 31% rate which came out this June were based on 2005 statistics, and hailed the number as a big improvement over the 24% rate in the 2004 numbers. I am glad to see signs of progress, but even these numbers mean that three out of every four males attending high school in Detroit will not graduate. And this just as the Big Three car makers are cutting back on production in every way that they can. 

Remember that other statistic I gave you — the 1.9 minutes a day spent on nonfiction content in the low socioeconomic scale schools Nell Duke studied? Combine that with these abysmal graduation rates and you have a portrait of a completely lost generation. They are not in school, and those who were not prepared to read, learn, and think about the world. 

What can we do, what must we do, to save the next generation?


  1. merriwyn says:

    Fund education, fund school libraries, fund public libraries. Value education as a culture and then the next generation will value it too. If you do not put your money where your mouth is then the young people you are concerned about will see that you do not care enough to act. Children value what their parents value (there is heaps of good replicable research to demonstrate that children and parents have the same values despite each perceiving the other as different from themselves) so if parents value learning then children will. The real difficulty is in effecting cultural change. As long as the culture as a whole does not value learning and education explicitly, then individuals who do not already value it will never begin to.

  2. Marc Aronson says:

    I am sure that cultural change would be helpful, but I wonder what can be done on a program level. For example — pro sports teams often get tax breaks. What if every team in a city (Detroit, for example, has baseball, basketball, football, and hockey) worked with schools providing stats that math clases used, media classes taught by announcers — in other words make the teams part of the city’s educational process.