March 20, 2019
By PAULA HERBART/President – Michigan Education Association
With reading month every March, educators see a flood of policymakers wanting to spend time in classrooms reading to children and touting the importance of literacy.
This year, however, there is a genuine effort to put money behind efforts to help all students read and learn, instead of the decades of disinvestment educators and parents have come to expect.
During the campaign, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer committed to reinvest in our public schools and her first budget shows she is true to her word. In particular, she focused on the need to provide real support for student literacy efforts, rather than the “test and punish” model of the past.
In 2016, then Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law pushing for every student to be proficient in reading by the end of third grade, with students unable to reach that goal subject to retention – a solution which does nothing to actually improve student reading skill. The law did include a variety of supports for literacy efforts, in particular hiring literacy coaches to help educators better meet the needs of all young readers. Unfortunately, funding for those coaches was woefully inadequate.