The Duncan Banner

Opinion

October 6, 2013

Road sign reading can improve literacy

DUNCAN — For the past two decades, there has been much hand-wringing over the slide American youth have taken on the education totem pole. This is not new news to you, right?

Other nations have passed us in overall quality of education, and for years, the causes of our decline have been argued and examined, argued again and examined again, and argued yet some more.

Still, many agree the root of the problem lies at the foundation of education — reading. Too many young’uns in the two generations after mine don’t read and/or retain well.

We also have an escalating problem some would suggest is a watershed of immigration: a growing number of new Americans, both young and old, can read — they just can’t read English.

You know what these two problems mean, of course?

That’s right. I’ve once again answered the call of my nation — and all of humanity, for that matter — and have conjured a solution to illiteracy in the USofA.

Take the young folks and the new Americans on a road trip.

I’m serious. Expose poor readers or folks who can’t read English to the classroom that exists on the highways and byways, the streets and gravel roads of this great land, and they will soon master the art of reading.

Road signs, billboards, business signs galore. Bumper stickers and window scribbling of all varieties. It’s a veritable white-line library out there on the road.

The only way to avoid reading while road trippin’ is to sleep through it, and why do that? You miss such interesting material.

Like a sign at a fast food restaurant that takes a personal approach: “I’m thinking you want a Market Fresh Salad.” Who is “I’m”?

There’s a sign outside a loan company in the Missouri Ozarks that welcomes customers to: “Be sure and ask about our plans to own your home.” And what kid wouldn’t fall to the floorboards laughing about a small billboard outside St. Louis: “Jack’s Radiator Shop — A great place to take a leak.”

Some road signs are meant to teach reading interpretation. “Failure To Pay Toll Strictly Enforced?” OK, do you pay the toll or get in trouble, or do you get in trouble for paying the toll?

Other signs get straight to the point, like a hand-printed posting on a rural road south of Champaign, Ill., which noted, “The trouble with political jokes is that they get elected.” Or this direct ditty on the window of a second-hand shop in a western Indiana village: “Help Us Get Rid Of This Junk!”

There’s some spiritual impact experienced in reading signage, since God seems to be speaking from a lot of billboards — and through a lot of different denominational tongues — these days.

Plus, philosophy abounds on bumper stickers and windows, where one can read: “You all laugh because I’m different. I laugh because you’re all the same;” and a personal favorite, “The mind is like an umbrella — it works best when it’s open.”

“The more you complain, the longer God makes you live.” “You are depriving some poor village of its IDIOT!” Bumper stickers like these not only build reading skills, but also help reinforce the importance humility plays in developing character.

I sometimes wonder why it’s necessary to have a window sticker that says: “Yeah, It’s Got A Hemi.” Would seem to me all the driver has to do is engage the accelerator and I think everyone within a dozen blocks would know this bad boy’s got a Hemi.

But there are some good safety tips to be found on bumper stickers. “If you can read this, I can slam on my brakes and sue you!” “Support bingo. Help keep granny off the streets!”

At this point, good taste, and recalling I write for a family newspaper, force me to issue this disclaimer: SOME SIGNAGE ALONG THE NATION’S ROAD SYSTEM SHOULD NOT BE READ BY CHILDREN. IT’S THE RESPONSIBILITY OF AN ADULT TO COVER A KID’S EYES AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME.

Anyway, we’ve just cracked the cover on the amount of reading material found on the asphalt library, but I think you’re getting the point — road trips can help the American education system, and literacy in general, in soaring to new intellectual heights.

As always, I’m pleased to have injected enlightened thought into the public debate.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Governor, state Legislature have misplaced priorities

    If the Oklahoma State Legislators and our Governor spent less time interfering in women’s rights to manage their bodies, creating ways to lay more taxes and fees on the middle class in order to generate more tax breaks which benefit only the wealthy while also conceiving methods with which to fill Oklahoma’s for-profit prisons, they would be doing all of us a favor. Instead, why not work to enhance funding for our schools and wage increases for all school employees? While reforming the state’s educational budget, why don’t they approve wage increases for our Oklahoma State Troopers and enlarge their Academy to insure qualified individuals are ready to fill the upcoming vacancies as many of the older force retire?

    April 9, 2014

  • Self government key to keeping politicians in check

    Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that federal campaign laws that limit the total amount of money donors can give to political parties, committees and candidates for federal office (U.S. House, Senate, and President) was unconstitutional. The ruling will not increase the current $2,600 limit on how much a donor can give to a federal candidate in each primary and general election or the $32,400 limit that can go to a national party committee. Those limits are still in place.  The ruling will instead remove the limit on how many candidates/committees to which a donor can contribute.

    April 9, 2014

  • Legislative goals crucial to priorities in education

    I am a member of several professional organizations where I attend regular meetings, network with colleagues, and stay abreast and informed on education best practices.  The Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, better known as CCOSA, is a nonprofit organization that establishes close and continuous communication and cooperation between educators, taxpayers, and legislators to improve the effectiveness of professional school administrators and to communicate the needs of schools. Attendance this time of year is especially critical because legislators are in session.

    March 28, 2014

  • An impressive ranking that could be better

    That Duncan was named one of the best 15 communities in Oklahoma by Movoto, a national Real Estate company, is news worth celebrating.
    Of 43 places with population of 10,000 or more, as determined by the U.S. Census data, Duncan finished 15th. Norman was first, Edmond second, Yukon and Moore tied for third and Bethany was fifth.

    March 9, 2014

  • Kids shouldn’t have to pay for having punster parents

    Friends and neighbors, I’ve been cloistered in my Thought Chamber for the past few days, contemplating many high-brow philosophies and haughty hypothesis that we who think on a different level use to exercise our finely-tuned minds and remain intellectually superior to the Great Unwashed.
    As you see, the time alone has been intellectually beneficial. I just composed an opening sentence (what we in the journalism dodge call a “lead”) that’s 46 words long.

    March 9, 2014

  • The blissful serenity of No-TV Land

    Life without TV is possible. Maybe you should try it. I did. It’s a do-able thing, I tell you. I’m still here, no worse the wear, no oozing wounds, no serious loss of brainwave activity except for the slow, inexorable downhill decline that already started when TV viewing was a daily occurrence.

    Granted, two months without the tube is quite likely not a scientifically acceptable sample from which is to hold forth. But it’s the best I can do, so deal with it.

    March 9, 2014

  • Cooper’s message is to remain active

    Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the Dallas physician who coined the phrase “aerobics” more than four decades ago, who has become a world leader in physical fitness and who has saved, literally, thousands of lives by promoting the value of an active lifestyle, shared his philosophy of life here last week.

    March 9, 2014

  • Time to take the “B” out of the “Three R’s”

    Our young folks are hitting the stretch drive toward the end of another school year, during which they’ve been taught “Three R’s”, which are not really “r’s” at all.
    In case you missed it, reading is the only one of the “Three R’s” that actually begins with the letter “r.” Writing starts with a “w” and arithmetic begins with the letter “a.” There are two reasons we drop the “w” from “writing” and the “a” from “arithmetic”: 1. For poetic flow in the age-old saying; and, 2. many people have a secret yen to talk like the Beverly Hillbillies.

    February 23, 2014

  • Thank you for lettin’ me be myself again

    Friends and neighbors, hope I don’t sound like the biggest egomaniac since Donald Trump, but you know, I am the most interesting person I’ve ever known.
    Forgive me if — on first blush — that sounds like the most totally self-aggrandizing statement you’ve ever heard. And if you’ve headed to the restroom to express an editorial opinion about the statement above, I’ll stop for a couple minutes.

    February 15, 2014

  • Buzz misfired in Vanity Fair body slam of Duncan

    As the new kid in town, I’m reluctant to leap atop the ramparts to defend the honor of Duncan, Okla., my new adopted hometown.
    But to heck with that. When an out-of-towner comes into your house and soils your rug, it’s on.
    I speak, of course, about the article in Vanity Fair magazine about Duncan and the  killing last year of Chris Lane, the Australian who was gunned down in August.

    January 24, 2014