I support House Bill 1558. Because I am a reader and my children are readers and even my grandchildren are readers. I did not initially think Indiana was facing a literacy crisis.
But then I began to volunteer with my church.
And in asking elementary through middle school students in my Sunday school class to read basic passages, I saw and was extremely disheartened by the failures of our public schools. And I do say public schools because I know that ANY child can learn to read. But they need to be taught with proven methods.
When I first noticed this problem, I felt helpless and really overwhelmed – especially as I watched an 8th grader who was struggling to read a primary school book. I wondered how she had gotten by and how our schools could pass along children who cannot read. I questioned if the materials we were using to teach children were the right ones. I asked her mom if she had an IEP and she did not. I was told she simply did not like to read. But I know that liking to read and being able to read are different things. One is a preference and one often determines our futures and the rest of our academic experiences as well as our lives.
Seeing so many kids all behind where they should have been, I couldn’t sit by and do nothing.
So, along with two other volunteers at my church, we started a Tuesday class to help students who were behind in reading. A teacher we knew offered us a suggested class and book. The book is based on the Science of Reading. And while I did not know that at the time, I can say that it is helping. I can also say that what we are currently doing in our public schools is not.
Since all of this began, I have learned that only 37% of children in Indiana are reading on grade level. But the statistic is sadly no longer as shocking. It is, however, still extremely unacceptable.
As a state, we must do better for our children. I believe that HB 1558 does just that. It helps ensure schools have the right curriculum, based in science. It makes sure our teachers and schools are supported in this.
I am not an expert on this bill, but I can say that our kids need to learn to read. Reading will determine their futures and ours as a state.
I hope House Bill 1558 passes. Through my work, I can help 10-12 children at a time. This bill has the possibility to help thousands of Indiana students.