You are here

Advocacy update: briefing on the 3rd grade reading bill

Dear Friends,

I know you've been hearing a lot from me about this "third grade reading" bill that's in the Michigan House of Representatives. Sometimes events don't give you the time to explain as much as you'd like about what is at stake. So, I wanted to take a moment to brief you on what we're doing.

When we work in Lansing, we try to focus on getting good policy passed - and we are willing to work with anyone who is ready to do right by our kids. This bill is an example: it's got good parts, and bad parts. We've been working to make the good parts better and get the bad parts out.

The bill, HB 4822, has a kind of "split personality." On the one hand, it would guarantee that all schools will offer reading help to children who need it, starting as early as kindergarten. The best way to head off problems later, teachers tell us, is to catch any problems as early as possible. Schools would also get help and training in offering these services, and would have to use tools that are proven to be effective. Front-line reading teachers say that this part of the bill could actually help children a lot, if it is done right and funded decently. (And that's a battle we can fight in the budget process, with a good chance of winning.)

On the other hand, the bill still includes legal requirements that children who are behind in reading be held back at the end of third grade. That decision won't be made by the child's teacher, parents and other educators, but by the child's score on the state test (whichever one we are using by then). It's true that this part has been softened, and there are many ways to find exceptions to the rule. But it's also true that well-resourced schools will find it easier to do the extra work to take advantage of those exceptions, which is not fair to all children.

Here is our proposal: just take out the mandatory retention, and all the testing and complications it brings. Instead, make a promise - that every child will get the reading help they need, as early as possible, and for as long as necessary. We can accomplish this in the bill by taking out mandatory retention. It looks like a lot of lawmakers might be open to this idea.

We need your help. Please reach out to your State Representative today. To send an email, use this link to our first action alert.

But if you can take it up a notch, please consider calling your Representative's office - use the information in our call alert to make that really easy.

Thanks for your help and your patience. It's only by working together that we can make sure Lansing does right by our children.

Steve Norton
Michigan Parents for Schools

Drupal theme by pixeljets.com D7 ver.1.1