Reading will help raise score
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 9, 2008
The issue: Alabama scored a C nationally on
its overall education quality, and local educators
say our students aren&8217;t learning to read as
well as they could.
Our position: Parents need to take a hand as
the first educators of children by reading to
them and making books available to them.
The Editorial Projects in Education Week
Magazine give Alabama a C for overall education
That means we’re doing some things right,
but we haven’t pushed beyond some challenges
as a state. The national overall average
was a C. Alabama performed better in
three of the six areas when compared to national
The highest grade for the state, A-, was
earned in the standards, assessments and
Here in Dallas County and Selma, the leaders
and teachers in both school systems say
we have a way to go.
Most of our local educators say parents
have to take more interest in their children
For instance, both school districts perform
poorly on reading assessments. Teachers tell
us that proficiency in mathematics and the
skills needed to pass the High School Graduation
Exam rest in being able to read and
comprehend the written word.
Granted, the school follows the Alabama
Reading Initiative, which requires a 30-
minute block of time spend reading at
school. But how much better could children
learn if they had books accessible at home?
If the television was limited? If parents sat
down and read with their families?
Reading at home with children costs nothing.
A library card is free. Plenty of age-appropriate
and reading-appropriate books
rest on the shelves of the Selma-Dallas
County Public Library. Librarians work
there, and they will help direct parents and
their children to the proper shelves.
Then, once parents and children get home,
it takes nothing more than discipline to
carve out 30 minutes, cut off all the noise, ignore
the telephone and read together.
Still not convinced? Then consider these
statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice
and U.S. Department of Health & Human
in juvenile court are functionally illiterate.
are functionally illiterate.
in terms of direct health costs.
skills live in poverty compared to only 4
percent of those who read fairly well.
Language and reading skills begin at
birth. The moment a child is born, he or she
begins making language. A parent is a
child’s first teacher and can help that child
by talking, singing, playing, and, yes, reading
together. Not only does the infant learn
language, but the child bonds with the parent,
Parents can help toddlers learn to read by
reading to them. These youngsters, 18 to 36
months, are still developing language. They
learn new words when parents read to them.
But learning to read doesn’t stop at home
when children go to school. Children will always
need access to books, to hear books
read and to have quiet time and encouragement
The state grade of a C on the latest education
report isn’t the worst in the world, but
we can all work to make it better.
Here in our corner of the state, we need to
ensure our children can read and understand
what they read.
The solution is really very simple, and not
Read to your child.