Friday, April 24, 2015

"Pushing young children to read is not good for them," says School Board Member

From TN-Edu Independent - "Pushing young children to read is not good for them." This comment was made recently by a school board member in Nashville. This comment reflects a policy view that would be detrimental to students across the MNPS system.

If anything, we have the exact opposite problem. We don't have the right policies and the appropriate execution of practices that foster the early literacy skills that so many Nashville students need.

Way too many young students in Nashville don't have adequate early literacy skills, and this deficit continues to hurt them in a big way throughout their K-12 learning years (if you can't read, it is hard to learn in other subjects or from other texts).

The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates for reading out loud to children (and is pushing their pediatric members to communicate that to parents).

It's somewhat shocking to me for a school board member to advocate for not pushing young children to read. While advocating for developmentally appropriate policies for children, which has merit and makes sense, this statement is irresponsible. If this was about making a political statement, related to the video below, and tied into the very skewed Diane Ravitch education policies (that is more about test opt-outs, everything should be play for children, etc), it's still irresponsible, and shows how allegiance to adult politics can trump rational and sensible policies for educating children.

A couple of thoughts stand out.

  1. If pushing young children to read is not good for them, then we shouldn't fund the Reading Recovery appropriation in the most recent MNPS budget nor anything else related to early literacy instruction.
  2. I'm basically a terrible parent for reading Dr. Seuss books with my 16 month old.
  3. Dolly (and many others) have gotten it way wrong all these years by sending books to homes through the Imagination Library program.
  4. The early literacy skills gap is a very serious issue that underpins a lot of our issues in K-12 education. This gap is particularly problematic for low-income and minority students. Note the reading gap (diamonds) among different income levels:
  5. The above video showcased Mission Hill school in Boston (along with Matt Damon's mom - Nancy Carlsson-Paige).
The video is more about testing opt out issues, and an advocacy for an approach to education that is all about play based learning. To make the statement that we shouldn't push young children to read and learn early literacy skills is going way too far.

And when it comes to student proficiency levels in reading (English Language Arts), the approach advocated for in the video in the school that is highlighted isn't working very well. Only 1/3 of Mission Hill school students are proficient or advanced in English Language Arts school-wide. For some grades, it's extremely low (4th grade - only 8%), and they have a very high percentage of students in the "warning/failing" classification for English Language Arts.

Yes, Mission Hill is a Title 1 school, but so are many others in Boston that have much higher reading proficiency rates.

Pushing young children to read and develop early literacy skills IS GOOD for them!!
My Comment: If you were wondering which school board member said, "pushing young children to read is not good for them;" it was Amy Frogge. Go to her Facebook page and it is posted on April 19. Rod

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