"All over the country, this month and next, most of the 28,800,000 pupils in the public schools are being given standardized year-end achievement tests. A question that both educators and parents will want to see answered by those tests is: Are our young citizens learning to use our language well enough?
This question has been more and more frequently asked in recent years. Parents have cried in dismay that their children could not read out loud, could not spell, could not write clearly enough to read their own pen tracks. Businessmen have complained that they could not find [people] to write grammatical letters. Employers have said that mechanics could not read simple directions.
Many a college has blamed high schools for passing on students with average or better IQs who could not read adequately to study college subjects; high schools have had to give remedial reading instruction to boys and girls who did not learn to read properly in elementary schools; the sixth-grade teacher has blamed the fourth-grade teacher; the fourth, the first; and all the teachers have now and then blamed parents, and with justice.
Our public schools have done a heroic job, during a period of enormous expansion and in the face of ever-tightening budgets, to maintain standards in the teaching of reading. The seriousness of purpose, the selflessness and the integrity of public-school teachers are manifest. Some children read very well indeed. However, grave reading problems exist. Educators are aware of them and are working hard to solve them."
-John Hersey, Life Magazine, May 24, 1954
That's right. This article is 60 years old.
Find the link to the article here.