Census says: Academics and Reading on The Rise?

reading on  the riseI’ve been seeing articles all over the web this week after the recent release of 2009 data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau. People are very excited to see that among families below the poverty level, parents reading to their toddlers in on the rise!

Reading Involvement on the Rise Among Poverty Sticken Families

While reading to children is still less frequent among families that fall within poverty level,  low-income families have shown a significant increase in reading interaction with their children.

In 2009, 56 percent of 1- and 2-year-olds above poverty were read to seven or more times a week, In 1998, those statistics were about the same.

HOWEVER… In 1998 37% of our nation’s poverty stricken toddlers were read to each day. In 2009, 45% of them were being read to every day.

Well, couldn’t that just mean there’s just more people below the poverty level now?  The frequency of parental reading interactions among all 1- to 2-year-olds in 2009 was 56 percent, not statistically different from 1998.

Honors Classes Up, Sport Down

The survey also found that for children aged 12-17, the number of children taking honors or advanced placement classes rose from 21 percent to 27 between 1998 and 2009.  Among all ages in the survey, participation in sports decreased from 41 percent in 2007 to 36 percent in 2009.

Statistics Schmatistics.

So, then you see all of these articles bragging about how we have a country more devoted to reading and academics than every before. As if we’re finally doing something right. Right?

OK, let’s step outside the pie charts and line graphs for a second. Look around you. In 1998, our country was still financially strong. Though some people warned of a bad economy being imminent at that time, most of us didn’t see it. People could afford sports then. Do these journalists seriously think that high school kids are sitting around, ever so pleased that the parents of this decade value reading and academics so much, that they decide that sports are for cavemen and choose to focus on their studies?

That’s not what I have seen. I have seen kids asking to play school sports and their parents saying they can’t afford it. I have seen parents telling their children that the world is rough right now and if they want to have anything as an adult, they need to apply themselves to their academics… rise above the economy.

So, Now What?

Now, I’m not saying this is a bad thing. A tight economy has already resulted in lower circumcision rates, more midwife assisted births, urban gardens, energy conservation and people switching to cloth diapers. Provided that children are still getting their exercise, I suppose there is nothing wrong with less focus on organized sports. It’s great that kids are striving to excel more academically.

I just want to point in response to the floods of articles I’ve seen recently about how “Reading Initiatives” are working, that I think that all the statistics are showing is a natural reaction to a failing economy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top