According to a report by the Detroit Free Press, the reading proficiency of the third-grade children in Flint has dropped from 41.8% in 2013 to 10.7% in 2017. Flint School board vice president Harold Woodson says that the literacy crisis in the Flint community did not begin with the water crisis in 2013, and will not be adequately addressed unless the state of Michigan begins to seriously reckon with how poverty ravages not only Flint but many other areas of the state.

“We’re in crisis mode,” Woodson says. “We were able to put a nurse in all of our elementary buildings and we’re investing more in looking at the behavior of the children… But the impact from the lead might not manifest itself for another year or two.”

Statewide, Michigan’s reading proficiency has fallen from 70% in 2015 to 44% in 2017, which indicates that there are places besides Flint which have massive reading proficiency issues. Detroit is one such area, and following their own lead crisis their reading proficiency dropping from 11.9% in 2015 to 9.9% in 2017. This is a much smaller percentage drop than Flint, but just as concerning.

Michigan’s Superintendent of Education Brian Whiston says that some of the drop is due to a higher standard on its state tests and curriculum requirements, but that the higher standards fail to explain all of what happened to the rate in Flint.

The state of Michigan has not implemented any kind of monitoring program to ensure all students who live in Flint are being looked at to ensure they do not have any developmental issues. It has created a public-private effort which is being funded by Flint’s community foundation and is being aided by Mott Community College, but this program is only going to affect children five years of age and younger.

There is a newly created registry which is attempting to keep up with and track damages to the children who were poisoned by the water over the last 4 years, but pipe replacements are still incomplete and it is apparent that the state is not doing enough for the welfare of these poor and Black and Brown children.

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