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  • Susan Stoderl

Beyond the Books Literacy Blog | Early Education and the Military

Having trouble finding a job? You can always go into the military instead of paying for college. Or can you?

Noted in its report, Ready, Willing and Unable to Serve, Mission: Readiness, a group of retired military and civilian military leaders identified why seventy-one percent of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 are ineligible to serve in the military—or 24 million out of 34 million people.

  • One-quarter of this group does not have a High School diploma.

  • Of those who do possess a High School diploma, thirty percent will fail the entrance test required to join the US military, the Armed Forces Qualification Test. The AFQT covers language comprehension, knowledge of mathematics and science, as well as mechanical skills.

  • Another one in ten young people cannot serve because of past convictions for felonies or serious misdemeanors—i.e., the primary culprit for both is literacy.

What can be done about this?

First, significant increases in early childhood education. Readiness cites research studies showing that children who benefit from early childhood education are significantly more likely to graduate from high school and avoid crime as adults. Education is about more than learning to read and count. “Young children also need to learn to share, wait their turn, follow directions, and build relationships. This is when children begin to develop a conscience—differentiating right from wrong—and when they start learning, to stick with a task until it is completed.”

Second, make libraries and book events central to school education.

Third, invest in quality teaching which begins with a quality education for teachers and adequate classroom supplies and up-to-date texts books which are factually correct.

Next week I'll be taking a look at the statistics.


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