Durham News: Opinion

The Conversation, Nov. 12: David Gellatly

Reading is the foundation

Mary Carey’s article “Asking the big Why” (DN, bit.ly/1xjcJxL) misses the larger issue when she says “we as a state and as a nation don’t teach black boys how to read.”

The critical question is: why do we allow ANY student to progress up the grade ladder if they can’t read at grade level?

Reading is the foundation of all education, yet we now allow students without adequate reading skills to fail upwards. Why are we afraid to hold these students back and demand that they perform? School Board head Jamezetta Bedford is puzzled on this point as well, so let’s ask some teachers. Why do you allow your weakest students to progress to the next grade level?

All students in grades 2 through 12 should be required to read aloud from time to time to demonstrate proficiency. Stand up and read well, or be held back. Read well, or you can’t even try out for a sport let alone join the team.

Yes it would create havoc for a while to hold back those who can’t read, but the word would spread and performance would improve. This “radical” reading program would cost zero dollars and get the results we seek – boys and girls who can perform in the classroom before they get anywhere near the athletic field.

Will teachers and parents and administrators get on board, or will we continue to look the other way and pass the problem up to the collegiate level?

David Gellatly

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