Commentary, Education

Editorial: The path to creating better readers in our schools is not about quick fixes

Be sure to check out the lead editorial this morning on WRAL.com. As “Only determined focus, from statehouse to schoolhouse, will fix lagging reading scores” points out, it’s long past time for state political leaders and policymakers to get past their affinity for addressing the state’s educational needs with quick fixes and doing things on the cheap.

This is from the conclusion:

The inability to significantly increase the portion of students who, by the time they are in the fourth grade, have the basic skills to be good learners, represents a lack of determination and focus at the local level of education on up….

This is a crisis. Our education leaders – from the principals’ office and the local school board to the state Board of Education and the superintendent of public instruction – must act. It is their constitutional duty to give every child an equal opportunity for a quality education.

Our courts ruled – more than 22 years ago in the landmark Leandro case – that the state failed in that obligation. Even with a court order, our leaders have fallen so short of their duty that the courts again are preparing to issue fresh directives. At the same time Gov. Roy Cooper’s has a commission working in parallel so the state is poised to move when the court acts.

Our leaders need to engage more directly with those who REALLY know about the challenges students face. They cannot tolerate failure on the current scale.

Good managers, when faced with failures to perform in their organizations, first turn to those on the front lines. Why aren’t they able to accomplish their tasks? Do they lack the materials or time? Do they lack the training? Are their efforts spread too thin (in school, too many students per class, lack of teacher assistants)?

Passing the blame and embracing ethereal fads isn’t teaching any more kids to read.

It is time for officials from the schoolhouse to the statehouse to focus on classrooms – get good teachers in them and give them the environment and tools to do the job.

Amen to that.

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