Broward News

Florida Students Lead Nationwide Reading Competition, Await Bullying

Thousands of Sunshine State students have taken the lead in a national reading competition, which means that same number of pupils is going to be shoved into lockers, called names, and pantsed when the school year resumes this fall.

As part of the Scholastic Summer Challenge, students across the country log the hours they've been reading during the summer break. Scholastic, whose quirky series such as "The Magic School Bus" and "Clifford the Big Red Dog" have introduced generations of kids to the marvels of books, is trying to set a world record for summer reading.

So far, officials at the publishing giant say that Florida is in the lead, with kids at 308 schools tallying more than 7,172,138 minutes. Five Florida cities, including Jupiter, North Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, are among the nation's top-ten towns for summer reading.

Surprised? You should be. Compared to the rest of the U.S., Florida's ranking for student success and K-12 achievement, according to some studies, hovers around a dismal C-grade. And considering how little state politicians care about education, it's a bit of a shock that kids here can even read at all.

These bookish young'uns deserve major props for their intellectual curiosity. (And maybe an ice cream social at the library.)

And, hey, even though bullies will readily pick on them for being nerds once they hear about the contest -- especially in Palm Beach -- geeks have no reason to dismay!

Indeed, all that learning will wind up being quite beneficial.

According to some estimates, bachelor's-degree recipients will make 74 percent more money (about $2.1 million) in a lifetime than those without diplomas -- even in times of economic turmoil. And it's even better for master's recipients: They tend to take in $1.3 million more in a lifetime than a high-school grad.

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Victoria Bekiempis