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If Democrats say they stand with my community, why are so many still failing to learn how to read?

OpinionIf Democrats say they stand with my community, why are so many still failing to learn how to read?

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Democrats run my neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Nearly every elected official I shake hands with belongs to the Democratic Party. Just down the road from where I pastor, Democrats are building the massive Barack Obama Presidential Center. Democrats from all over America will flood into Chicago this August for the Democratic National Convention.

Every single one of these Democrats pride themselves on being on the side of “the good.” It’s their bread and butter. It is what they advertise. They come into my impoverished, violent but, at the same time, a proud working-class neighborhood and they tell us, I stand with the Blacks, the minorities, the women, the impoverished, the marginalized, and so on. If they stand with us, then why are so many of our kids failing to learn how to read?

Reading is everything. It’s the most important thing a child can learn and develop over his or her scholastic career. Reading is what opens doors and creates opportunities. Reading is knowledge and that’s what fills empty souls with purpose and brings them to life. Why then is reading not even a priority for the Democrats in my city? I don’t know the full agenda of the Democratic National Convention, but I’m willing to bet that not one speaker or agenda item will focus on the reading illiteracy crisis facing my community as well as many others across America.

I SERVE KIDS ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF CHICAGO. THIS IS MY MESSAGE ABOUT THE AMERICAN DREAM

One of the worst high schools in America is just down the road from the Obama Presidential Center: Hyde Park Academy High School. According the the Wirepoints website, only two percent of its students were proficient in reading in 2023. That is two out of 100 students. That means 98 students — if we can even call them students — will age out of the public school system without one of humanity’s most basic survival skills.

I blame the parents, too, and 100 percent. They are not parenting if their kids cannot read. I’m sorry, but nobody deserves the parent title if their kid cannot read. You may think what I said is cruel and maybe it is, but you know what’s crueler? Ninety-eight kids out of 100 who cannot read.

What makes this tragedy all the more farcical is that 82 percent of the kids at Hyde Park Academy High School will graduate. That’s right. Only two percent can read at grade level and yet 82% will graduate. It makes you wonder how bad the other 18 percent of the kids were that could not even meet such a low, low bar. Actually, I don’t because I deal with them every day. Most of them end up in prison or dead on the streets.

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The Democrats, the self-proclaimed carers of our society, have done nothing about this problem. At this point, you have to think this neglect is intentional. They’re not living on Mars; they know these numbers. They run the Chicago Teachers Union. If this neglect is not intentional, then it is criminal.

It is criminal because the Democrats prefer to spend their time pushing worthless DEI programs onto us. They segregate Chicago students and teachers by race. They impose racial sensitivity training upon us.  What they’re telling us is that racial diversity matters more than reading.

That is why I left the Democratic Party over 10 years ago. At that time, I came out in favor of a Republican running for governor. I lost half of my congregation. I received death threats and my family had to go into hiding. But I found myself free. I was no longer bound by the Democratic policies that made us feel good while sucking our personal agency dry.

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This gave me the freedom to address the ills within my neighborhood. After a long journey, I am more than halfway through building a massive Leadership and Economic Opportunity Center across the street from my church. 

Once built, our number one priority will be to teach kids how to read. We will teach the parents, too, if needed. It is not a difficult skill to learn and that is the tragedy here. It takes time and patience. It also takes true empathy to teach a child to read and to dream of a better future, a skill that the Democrats in my city lack.

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