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

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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

accountability category.

Here in Dallas County and Selma, the leaders

and teachers in both school systems say

we have a way to go.

The key?

Most of our local educators say parents

have to take more interest in their children

at home.

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

to read.

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.