She goes unloved at Salon: This morning, in the New York Times, we read about a 7-year-old in New York City who already has two literary heroes.
Delightfully, her name is Mikayla Capers; she lives in East New York, Brooklyn. Vivien Lee profiled her budding literary engagement, which we hope will turn out to be lasting, helpful and real:
YEE (6/6/14): Mikayla’s heroes are Harry Potter and the characters in the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series. After reading that she was a fan of the series, Abrams Books, the series’ publisher, arranged to send her a trove of signed books and merchandise. For Mr. King, it is one bright note in what has been a week of horror.In the “week of horror” referenced there, this young person was stabbed seventeen times—and survived. In the course of the attack, her best friend, who was 6, was killed.
(“Mr. King” is her uncle, Lemar King. In this earlier report, he was the source for this portrait of Capers: “She is a chatterbox who loves the Harry Potter books and 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid.’ ”)
We were impressed by the thought that this young person already loves those books. She comes from a demographic which often ends up on the short end of our nation’s punishing academic/literacy gaps.
Those gaps come early and often. Many kids who live in public housing, as Capers does, are on the short end of the so-called “30 million word gap” by the time they’re three years old! (For links, see below.)
Around the country, some are trying to address that gap, in the face of massive disinterest from just about everybody else.
We’ll admit we had an unwholesome reaction to this morning’s report. It occurred to us that we haven’t read a word about Capers from the various chatterboxes we review at Salon.
A search shows that Salon has posted three extremely brief AP reports about this matter, wherever it is they post reports they don’t expect anyone to read. But we haven’t read a reaction to this event from the site’s top salonsplainers.
We’ve read three separate columns at Salon this week about Maureen Dowd’s misadventure with pot. (In a typical display, none of the columns actually managed to explain what Dowd said actually happened.) The interest in Dowd’s pot use has been high, but no one has said a word about Capers—not even Katie McDonough, who does her highly entitled mcdonoughsplaining from right there in Brooklyn, the borough she shares with this child.
Can we talk? Salon doesn’t care about kids like this! It doesn’t discuss them when they get stabbed. It doesn’t waste its time on their general societal plight.
We liberals have a very hard time processing the following fact. But as a group, we basically quit on black kids a long time ago. Our “intellectual leaders” don’t really like young people like the chatterbox Capers. As has been clear for decades now, we don’t give the first flying fig what happens to them in their schools.
We prove this basic point all year long. If you doubt that, read Salon. Or watch The One True Channel.
Concerning the 30 million words: Where do our achievement gaps come from? In a remarkable bit of research published in 1995, Hart and Risley attempted to tackle that topic. They described a 30-35 million word gap which is in place by age 3.
Correlation is not causation. Beyond that, we’d assume the question is less the number of words a young child hears than the number of brain cells that develop in the course of her responses to all that chatter.
Above all else, literacy is the habit of paying attention and trying to figure things out. Some very young people get much more help developing these habits.
Back to the 30 million words: When this gap does get discussed, journalists tend to tiptoe around. Where could the ongoing research take us? We’d like to see that explored.
For a recent account of this gap, click this. For an NPR presentation, click here. For a lengthy report by Paul Tough in 2006, we’ll suggest that you just click this.
Can this baby talk research help? Not if nobody pays attention to what is being said.
We liberals have a very hard time processing the following fact. But as a group, we basically quit on black kids a long time ago.ReplyDelete
But not before thoroughly destroying the foundation of family and standard of work ethic that would have given them half a chance at success without much help from white liberals.
Duuurrrrrr, liberals bad!!!1!11!!1!!!!Delete
To the extent those failures correlate with the 30 million word gap. Do they?Delete
More about that next week.Delete
Superb, simply superb posts, Bob. I could not value what you are doing more.ReplyDelete
OMB (LTR is right about OTB)ReplyDelete
"We’ve read three separate columns at Salon this week about Maureen Dowd"
Superb indeed! Three columns on Dowd in a week. All those young whippersnappers over at Salon focusing on Dowd. Shame on them. Why when BOB was a young whippersnapper, say in his mid sixties, he could crank out three Dowd attacks in a couple of days.
No need for us to post about BOB's hypocrisy any more. He does it himself.
Wow, why hold back, ain't s/he like Hitler too?Delete
Yes it is truly horrible for him to criticize Somerby for critcizing Salon for too much criticism of Maureen Dowd.Delete
Somebody the other day wrote that KZ writes 3/4 of the comments. Does that mean Somerby's work attracts mostly insects?Delete
It means you are an insect.Delete
We will survive the collapse of your intellectual culture.Delete
"That said, substantial gaps already exist in the first years of life. Tomorrow, we’ll consider the so-called “30 million word gap,” a daunting gap which is said to exist by the time children are 3."ReplyDelete
Is the second half of a "supplemental" post all the consideration you are going to give to this issue in a month long series on achievement gaps?
The writing you are doing is excellent and inspiring. I would like to comment now and then but the trolling makes commenting for the purpose of conversation impossible.
Please consider banning trolls.
Because of the trolls, I never send links to your posts to other people or put them on other websites when ideas such as your are writing about are germane. I am ashamed to refer such troll-ridden posts to anyone else.
I read no other site that allows such a troll problem. I fortunately do not even know of any comparably troll-ridden site.
Please ban the trolls. Ban one or two and the problem will be gone.
Bob, I read your site because of the comments. The only ones I find disgusting are those from people who contantly comment that they don't comment because of trolls. They never have anythiong to contribute but mindless complaints.Delete
I had an interaction with a 5-6 year-old once, and the term that immediately came to my mind was "chatterbox." I bet little Mikayla, notwithstanding that she's such an avid reader, has not had a lot of words spoken to her because, I'd venture to say, NO ONE CAN GET A WORD IN EDGEWISE. You just stand there in wonderment.ReplyDelete
I'll bet you avoided a second interaction.Delete
I am shocked, given your previous work on the Kitty Genovese case and the Trayvon Martin case coverage by the New York Times that you would ask us to take anything they print about crime as true.ReplyDelete
What on earth has come over you?
One person who could help put this into the public consciousness is Michelle Obama. It's a simple enough concept that it could very well catch on quickly. She would likely be very effective, and the knowledge might even help make for a breakthrough in the advancement of early human development, especially among the most disadvantaged.ReplyDelete
Have you ever noticed the response of the corporate press/media when a Democratic First Lady makes any comments at all about raising children? I mean, Ms. Obama said children should eat more nutritious food and they compared her to Stalin & Hitler.Delete
Prince Joshua Avitto goes unloved at the Howler.ReplyDelete
Excellent work Bob.ReplyDelete
You might also want to cover this story which appeared in Salon even more than the three timesSalon covered the Mikayla Capers crime.
It involves girl readers too. And knives.
I link to Huffington Post because they have a "crime" section. Salon should follow their lead and abandon this unhealthy obsession with Maureen Dowd.
This series is beginning to remind me of the last time TDH did a "gap series" involving the 30 million word research of Hart and Risley and the writing of Paul Tough. That was 2006.ReplyDelete
The Atlantic covered this Word Gap issue also, back before they published heinous work like that of Hannah-JonesReplyDelete
I teach high school English in Los Angeles. When I mention the 30 million word gap or any related studies to other English teachers I am surprised that no more than 1 out of 10 have heard of it. About 1 out of 30 have read about it.ReplyDelete
Are you telling me that after almost twenty years this work is not a staple of education schools?Delete
As I recall Part 4 was going to feature Bob's ideas of what to do about the 30 million word problem. It was delayed by an Interlude, a couple of posts about NCAA football (PAC 10 is better than SEC), an attack on a Gail Collins Editorial about No Child Left Behind. A week after Part 4 was promised Bob wrote:
"POSTPONED TILL MONDAY: The thoughts we had when we read Paul Tough’s useful report."
He made another promise to post it the next week, in between a couple of posts attacking Maureen Doed. Monday, it seems, never came. Maybe today is the Monday he had in mind almost 8 years ago.
Visit Bob's archives from December 2006.
This was a response to Anonymous @ 12pmReplyDelete
Don't know why the reply button is not working.ReplyDelete
Salon doesn’t care about kids like this! It doesn’t discuss them when they get stabbedReplyDelete
I'd say Salon doesn't like black criminals. It doesn't discuss them .when they commit a stabbing. If Mikayla Capers had been stabbed by a white person, Salon would have given extensive coverage.
Well, since Salon gave more coverage last week to the stabbing of one white teen by two other white teens in Wisconsin than they gave to the Capers case, which they reported three times according to Somerby in this post, I'd say dropping another R bomb on your stupid white head would be an appropriate response.Delete
Anon 10:41's example is closer to supporting my point than refuting it. I said the media gave more attention when the stabber was white. Anon provided an example where the media did indeed give more attention to a stabbing by a white perp.Delete
Two white perps D in C. Age 12. Readers.Delete
I only met her the one time, but she was hilarious - and very sweet.ReplyDelete
Meemaw resisted at first, but now she loves it.Delete
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