WHO NEEDS IT

Schools / Principals

“If teachers don’t have clear purchase on what it takes to become a good reader and what some kids might be missing, then their instructional successes will be fortunate accidents. The same can be said for the principals and district leaders who supervise them.”  —Dr. Timothy Shanahan

To Whom It May Concern,

Schools all over our state are inundated with teachers that haven’t had the proper, science-based training to teach students how to read. We have students graduating from high school who are still reading on an elementary level, simply because we didn’t receive the proper training when we were going through college. The ability to read affects everything in our lives, so it is so important that we get this right in the short amount of time that we have them.

Because educational research has a history of being poor, lacking practicality, and being loaded with short term fixes, many teachers have lost faith in the idea of “research-based” reading methods that promise instructional magic.

Last summer, our elementary staff was taught the science of teaching reading. We had new teachers in the class, as well as teachers that had been in the profession for over 30 years, but all walked away admitting it was an eye-opening training. We were not trained in the science of teaching reading when we were going through our educational training in college, not were we required to pass any tests proving that we were prepared to teach students to read. Most of us just teach what our curriculum says to teach with the best of intentions.

During the training, most (if not all) had moments of “I wish I would have known about this years ago,” though we’d done the best that we knew how to do at the time. As a teacher, it is hard to think about the students you may have let down that you could have helped, had you only known.

We are asking that the senate bill be passed so that future teachers cannot graduate from college without knowing (and proving that they know) the science of teaching reading. Every student deserves to learn to read, and it is up to you, our lawmakers, to see to it that the children of our state reach their full potential.

Sincerely,

Elementary School Teachers of Arkansas

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