The Riggs Institute, 4185 SW 102nd Ave., Beaverton, OR 97005. Tel: 503-646-9459; Fax: 503-644-5191; e-mail: email@example.com. For full text: http://www.riggsinst.org/cows.htm.
With 90 million Americans now reading and writing at the two lowest of five levels of proficiency ("functional" illiteracy by many estimates) according to the 1994 National Education Goals Report, and 30% to 40% of enrolled students in remedial classes, it is past time to determine a "fix" for the greatest national tragedy--"the inability to teach our own language to our own children." Addressed to those who hold "the purse strings to change"--board members, legislators, corporate CEOs, and foundation trustees--this paper submits that those people need to take a close look at the reasons for this indictment. The four major factors which influence what happens between teachers and their students in classrooms throughout the world are: (1) the textbooks used; (2) the manner in which teachers are trained--in attitudes, in methodologies, and in content; (3) the standards by which they are certified; and (4) individual course time requirements at each grade level in accredited schools. These four "sacred cows" are determined by selected groups of state-level bureaucrats. The paper considers statewide textbook adoption and the recent woes of literacy education in California and discusses each of the four factors in detail, supplying much historical background information acquired from many years observing literacy practices. (NKA)