Too many Indiana kids cannot read. This bill can help.

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.

Natalie Lott and grandchildren.

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.