Rally for HB 2625 (among other things)
I know what I said yesterday. I need a break from blogging. I really do. Unfortunately, taking that break is predicated upon Janet Barresi not sending us ridiculous emails like the one I read last night.
|Superintendent Barresi comments on bill
to weaken third-grade reading law
OKLAHOMA CITY (March 28, 2014) — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi made the following remarks concerning House Bill 2625. Slated for a vote Monday in the state Senate Education Committee, the measure would repeal automatic retention of students who score Unsatisfactory on the third-grade reading test and who don’t meet a good-cause exemption.
“To deny children the opportunity to learn how how [sic] to read is to deny them an opportunity for success. Reading is the most fundamental aspect of an education. It is unconscionable that anyone would think it’s too much to ask that a school teach a child to read.
“Extensive research shows that moving children forward in school without the ability to read proficiently sets them on a course of falling further and further behind. It condemns them to frustration and failure. But there are also severe consequences for the students who are able to read proficiently, as fourth- and fifth-grade teachers must increasingly spend their time in remediation with the struggling readers.
“The Reading Sufficiency Act has been in existence for 17 years to identify and provide intensive remediation for struggling readers as early as kindergarten. And yet after 17 years and more than $80 million in funding, the percentage of Oklahoma students reading below grade level has remained flat. We cannot allow this to continue. We cannot continue sabotaging the promise of future generations.
“I urge Senate Education Committee members to continue to support high standards by ensuring that our children can read. I would ask that they let the RSA work. There already are good-cause exemptions to address an array of special circumstances. Predictions of catastrophe are simply incorrect. When the State of Oklahoma mandated end-of-instruction exams as a condition for high school graduation, critics made similar predictions that the sky would fall. Instead, Oklahoma’s young people rose to the occasion, with the passage rate at 99 percent.
“The good news is that RSA already is working. It is igniting attention and innovation in reading instruction. We see school districts in Tulsa, Bartlesville, Putnam City and elsewhere making impressive gains in reducing the numbers of children with reading difficulties. It would be a mistake to start weakening the law just as it begins to show glimmers of its anticipated positive impact.”
She has every right to have an opinion and to use her position to try to influence the outcome of a vote. I take issue with the language she uses. Nobody is trying to “deny children the opportunity to learn how how to read.” (Aren’t you glad we’re not debating the Writing Sufficiency Act?) Reasonable people – and by reasonable, I mean the parents and teachers who work with children every day – believe that mandatory retention does more harm than good.
I also take issue with her selective use of research in paragraph three. This from the mouth of a politician who derides researchers when it suits her! Everything Barresi says reeks of a selective view of her particular agenda. Research also shows the damaging effects of retention. She never talks about that.
She mentions the Good Cause Exemptions but fails to mention that they are quite limited in their coverage. She also fails to mention that Florida pumped millions of dollars into useful programs when they went down this road ten years ago. Barresi also talks of empowering parents, when it is convenient for her. What’s more powerful than having parents and teachers sit down at a table, discussing student achievement, and making educational decisions together? That’s what HB 2625 would allow.
I’ve recently heard Barresi say that the RSA existed for 17 years before the retention clause was added, and now the Act has “teeth.” Lots of things have teeth. That’s something Barresi can discuss with authority.
Ok, now I’m on hiatus.