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Author: warrl Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 5075  
Subject: OT for mazske Date: 1/5/2007 11:40 PM
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Regarding your literacy work - sort of...

A few days ago I saw on a TV show where a woman started a grade-school reading program (using dogs) because she was upset to learn that 40% of 4th-graders read below grade-level average.

If you encounter people with such concerns, which seems likely, could you please explain a few things to them:
* That pretty much by definition, over a population in the millions most of whom are at least somewhat literate, very close to 50% (as in, probably between 48% and 52%) will be below average in reading skill;
* That if we improved EVERY 4th-grader's reading skill by one grade level, the average would also move by one grade level and we'd still have very close to 50% reading below average.
* That this sort of thing would be covered in a very elementary class on statistical concepts, and people who don't understand it shouldn't be arguing using statistics.
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Author: mazske Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3955 of 5075
Subject: Re: OT for mazske Date: 1/6/2007 9:08 AM
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warrl,

You made some good points. The research I've done seems a bit hazy, but basically, several studies have shown that between 60-80% of the prisoners in US prisons read at a 3rd grade reading level or lower.

Last winter, I went into one state prison, in uniform, and spoke to roughly 200 prisoners, in 4 groups, who were in a GED program.

The prison told me roughly 75% of the prison inmates, 1150 prisoners, do not have a high school diploma.

The principal of the school in the prison told me he thought it was safe to say that roughly 75% of the prisoners in the US didn't have a HS diploma, based on his experiences and his studies.

So, the way I look at all of this is this way.

If we can get kids reading more, over time, we will increase their reading level.

If police officers would copy me and start going into classrooms, not just one or two a year, but hundreds and thousands a year, reading, talking about reading, talking about hanging in to get that HS diploma, talking about college, vocational school, the military, talking about the local gang and drug issues, handing out free books and basically talking about life issues, I think we can and will make a difference.

I do not know the long term results of what I'm doing. All I know is this. Kids who weren't reading, now, according to what they and their teachers tell me, are reading.

Elementary school kids who hate to read, are copying the "cool" cops who read by reading themselves.

My free book distribution program is still in its infancy. I kicked it off last year in one middle school to the entire 8th grade. Every student got 10 free books from me. This year, I followed those 8th graders to the HS and am giving them free books in the 9th grade. I also picked up the new 8th graders.

I'm also a guest "cop" in another middle school close by, out of my job jurisdiction, where I hand out the same books, but ones the school bought.

My plan is to pick up a new grade, 10th, then 11th, then 12th, every year, all the while keeping the 8th and 9th graders.

As well, my goal is to get into more classes from the Kindergarten through 7th grade level, reading and "chatting" with the kids.

I'm one person. I'm a simple man who sees improved reading skills and a better interest in reading as a way to improve society.

If I can do this, why can't every law enforcement nation in the country do this?

They can.

It sure can't hurt and if nothing else, these kids I come into contact with are getting questions answered about a variety of topics that their parents and teachers may not be able to answer. They are also getting free books that they seem to really enjoy that are teaching them while they are reading them. As well, they'll hear me talk about topics and issues that their teachers may or may not talk about, but are topics that are important. Such as one I hash over and over, which is making positive choices in life.

Suggestions and comments to what I'm doing are welcome.



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Author: cstillwell55 Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3957 of 5075
Subject: Re: OT for mazske Date: 1/6/2007 2:30 PM
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The principal of the school in the prison told me he thought it was safe to say that roughly 75% of the prisoners in the US didn't have a HS diploma, based on his experiences and his studies.

Another interesting quote I had seen was, "85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes". I found this in Donald Miller's book To Own a Dragon. The quote is also on the Belmont Foundation web site http://www.belmontfoundation.org/.

I'm actually curious about how many of the inmates have reading problems. I have a son who is dyslexic. Fortunatly for us and him it was diagnosed fairly early (2nd grade). We also are fortunate to live in an area that has one of, if not the most, recognized private school that specializes in teaching dyslexic children. I know that many children who go undiagnosed end up frustrated and drop out of school and into trouble.

~Stillwell

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Author: mazske Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3958 of 5075
Subject: Re: OT for mazske Date: 1/6/2007 7:53 PM
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Another interesting quote I had seen was, "85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes". I found this in Donald Miller's book To Own a Dragon. The quote is also on the Belmont Foundation web site http://www.belmontfoundation.org/.

Very interesting and thanks for posting this. I hadn't thought about this before, but I'm sure its true. A lot of kids who are in trouble come from broken homes and quite a few have fathers who are in jail.

So, if male police officers go into their class and read to them, as I do dozens of times a month, that helps explain why many of the kids who I guess come from broken homes latch onto me. I'm not just a cop, I'm a guy.

I'm glad your son was diagnosed early on. That's another issue is some inmates have never been diagnosed until they were in prison.

My sincere hope is my programs and my Book 'Em event can spread all over as if so, with law enforcement being behind it, I think it can really bring these issues to light.

Thanks again, my new MF friend.

mazske


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Author: warrl Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3959 of 5075
Subject: Re: OT for mazske Date: 1/6/2007 9:39 PM
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warrl,

You made some good points. The research I've done seems a bit hazy, but basically, several studies have shown that between 60-80% of the prisoners in US prisons read at a 3rd grade reading level or lower.


That's a legitimate problem.

My gripe was when people get upset because some 4th-graders read below the average level of 4th-graders. Unless we impose a real lock-step, preventing *any* variation - in either direction - from the expected level of reading skill, some kids will be below average.

(And such a lockstep is impossible unless we take all children away from their parents and institutionalize them - probably by age 2, since I've known 3-year-old children of hyperliterate parents who could read at approximately 4th-grade level. Whether it would be possible even with such a system is questionable. But it certainly wouldn't be desirable.)

There should be an expected minimum level of reading skill for kids that age with no blocking disabilities, but it shouldn't be called "average" or defined by reference to the average. In fact, to be achieved with even 80% reliability it must be well below the expected average.

Last winter, I went into one state prison, in uniform, and spoke to roughly 200 prisoners, in 4 groups, who were in a GED program.

The prison told me roughly 75% of the prison inmates, 1150 prisoners, do not have a high school diploma.

The principal of the school in the prison told me he thought it was safe to say that roughly 75% of the prisoners in the US didn't have a HS diploma, based on his experiences and his studies.

So, the way I look at all of this is this way.

If we can get kids reading more, over time, we will increase their reading level.

If police officers would copy me and start going into classrooms,


I have another thought to go along with that... get some of these prison officials (and prisoners?) to go into schools to talk to the kids about reading.

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Author: mazske Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3960 of 5075
Subject: Re: OT for mazske Date: 1/6/2007 10:05 PM
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I have another thought to go along with that... get some of these prison officials (and prisoners?) to go into schools to talk to the kids about reading

I've toyed with something similiar to this. I've thought about getting someone recently released from jail or prison to do just as you suggested. I had a young, 18 or 19, year old female who had been arrested a few times do just this. I got permission from her probation officer so that the time she spent with me in a school reading to kids would count as her community service time. The teacher of the class I took her to really enjoyed having her there as she was great with the kids.

However, the principal of that school, an elementary school, found out and said she was no longer allowed to come with me.

I would have always been with her, so I totally disagree with this, but my hands were tied and probably I didn't push it as much as I should have.

The problem as I see it with having an inmate do it would be this. Some inmates get out on work release details where they are working alongside the road or somewhere else. Always, there is an armed guard with them.

The schools allow me to go into classrooms armed as I am a police officer, I'm in uniform, I'm on duty and I'm there to read or talk to the kids.

If the armed person had to be there to "guard" the prisoner, I don't think the school would go for that.

Now, prison officials? Possibly.

Yet, I wonder.

I have trouble getting police officers I work with to do what I'm doing. I'm having trouble getting neighboring law enforcement agencies to adopt my programs.

However, I'm like a persistent black fly that you just can't get rid of. I won't give up on what I'm doing. It'll spread, just give me time.

Thanks for any and all suggestions and support.

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Author: warrl Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3961 of 5075
Subject: Re: OT for mazske Date: 1/6/2007 10:58 PM
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The schools allow me to go into classrooms armed as I am a police officer, I'm in uniform, I'm on duty and I'm there to read or talk to the kids.

If the armed person had to be there to "guard" the prisoner, I don't think the school would go for that.


Yeah, that makes sense. I assisted with a school field trip some years ago, and afterward learned that the teacher could leave the students without adult supervision to run to the restroom - but couldn't leave them under the supervision of an ordinary non-criminal parent. I can just see how the bureaucracy would respond to having a prisoner and armed guard...

How about recent ex-prisoners? They wouldn't require an armed guard. (I'd favor ones who are volunteering WITHOUT any community-service requirement on their release, but you're in a better position than I am to decide.)

I want to make it clear that I applaud your efforts... and am tossing out ideas that, if they are feasible, might help you make them even more effective. (While acknowledging that tossing out ideas is a lot easier than determining which ones are feasible, and making the feasible ones happen is a tougher task yet.)

Of course, there is a subtle bias you're fighting against. In the ideal, every cop and every prison guard and every prison official and every prosecutor should be trying to make his own job superfluous. But how many people really do try to eliminate their own jobs? Not many.

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Author: mazske Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3962 of 5075
Subject: Re: OT for mazske Date: 1/6/2007 11:53 PM
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How about recent ex-prisoners? They wouldn't require an armed guard. (I'd favor ones who are volunteering WITHOUT any community-service requirement on their release, but you're in a better position than I am to decide.)

A year or so ago, a fellow came to the PD and asked to talk to me. He told me he had recently been released from prison and had heard of my work and was curious if I had any suggestions for him. I gave him some advice, and told him I'd think about having him come with me into the schools. I took his name and number.

Then, life just kicked in and I got too busy and forgot about him. I hope I wrote his name and number in a pad in my office and if so, I may look him up. I may know another way to find him. Actually, I just thought of a way.

Hopefully, he has stayed clean. He was locked up for something like 20 years, so he's middle aged.

If I could find a young person, maybe 20 years old, who spent something like 2 years locked up, that may impress the kids better. However, how to go about finding a sincere person? I'll see if I can figure it out.

I want to make it clear that I applaud your efforts... and am tossing out ideas that, if they are feasible, might help you make them even more effective. (While acknowledging that tossing out ideas is a lot easier than determining which ones are feasible, and making the feasible ones happen is a tougher task yet.)

Thank you! If you want, shoot me an e-mail to let me know what part of the world you live in and if you can help me in any way to get something started in your area.

Of course, there is a subtle bias you're fighting against. In the ideal, every cop and every prison guard and every prison official and every prosecutor should be trying to make his own job superfluous. But how many people really do try to eliminate their own jobs? Not many.

I jokingly tell other police that my goal is to be so successful in reducing future crime, I cause the PD to go out of business.

However, that'll never happen. If we did go out of business, then crime would just pick back up.

Yet, I think my efforts can reduce future crime and also improve society by having a better educated society.

I've gone on record by telling a group of probably 100 or so police chiefs that I challenge each of them to copy my programs as it'll help their image and their communities, two things that every police department should want to do.

Yet, a few inquiries, but nothing serious has happened yet.

Well, I'm wrong. The most populated county in Virginia has adopted my cops in schools reading program. That started small, but they did get an article in the Washington Post that credited me and my department with starting this. That led to another person in another state contacting me for more information.

And, the Book 'Em event did spread to New Hampshire and hopefully will be in North Carolina in 2008.

So, the spreading has started. I guess I just get impatient and after 3 years, have hoped my work would be global.

Yet, I do have patience and I'll keep plugging away until my dying day, be that tomorrow or 50 years from now. If I don't, who will?





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Author: bdgf06 Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3996 of 5075
Subject: Re: OT for mazske Date: 1/12/2007 3:52 PM
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I love this post, warrl. I almost started laughing out loud in the office when I read this. I also agree with your opinion about people needing to take courses in elementary stats before using them to back up certain propoganda.

bdgf06

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Author: yeilBagheera Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 4008 of 5075
Subject: Re: OT for mazske Date: 1/14/2007 11:18 PM
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Hey, I'm impressed with the most populated county adopting your program and another state who asked for information.

Congratulations on Book'Em in three states in 2008.

Keep up the good work.

I like the fact that you're focused on the middle school grades.

If you're open to advice, I'd not extend it up through the eleventh and twelfth grades. In my town, the surveys show that most kids who drop out before graduating drop out after beginning high school and before passing enough classes to finish their sophomore years.

YeilB

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