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We are not teaching our children to read and we need a national commitment to save their future


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It is not by chance that you can read and understand this sentence. A solid education has given you this fundamental skill. Yet today there is literally millions children in our country who are behind in reading and, unfortunately, too many who cannot read at all. Your child may be one of them.

The latest data provides the facts – and they are alarming. The National Assessment of Educational Progress has released its latest results in 4th and 8th grade reading for US students and found that nearly 70% of these children are tested “below their proficiency level” in reading and are in great difficulty. It’s not just appalling, it’s heartbreaking, especially because most parents think their children are fine.

How did it happen? In a recent podcast series, “Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong,” journalist Emily Hanford shared stories of parents who discovered their children couldn’t read and the many challenges they faced. confronted to ask for help.

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One parent, Corrine Adams, realized her kindergarten son wasn’t learning to read when she helped him with distance education during the pandemic. When she took to Twitter to share her experience, Adams quickly discovered that parents across the country had children who were also not learning to read.

Senior Airman Paweena Vennum reads to children March 23, 2022 at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Natalie Powell)

This national failure is real, and it has the potential to rob our children and grandchildren of a chance to reach their full potential. To cite one example, economist Eric Hanushek estimates that students affected by pandemic-related learning loss will earn 6-9% less income throughout their lives.

The way forward is effective policy. That’s why I founded the Foundation for Excellence in Education 15 years ago. Our organization recently hosted over 1,200 participants at its annual National Education Summit in Salt Lake City. Participants heard from Hanford and Hanushek and many other speakers in policy-focused discussions.

At the heart of our work, each of these solutions starts with what’s best for students. This is why I strongly believe that every child should have access to all educational options, like what has been adopted in neighboring Arizona with its Empowerment Scholarship Accounts program.

But that’s not all. In Utah, leaders have already made strides in adopting common-sense policies. Senate Speaker Stuart Adams is an accountability champion who grades schools using letter grades — so schools are held accountable. Utah Senator Ann Milner championed some of the fundamentals of early literacy policy, including literacy coaches, screening officers to identify troubled children early, and early intervention, monitoring and supporting students until they are at the level of their peers.

However, in education, success is never final, reform is never complete. There is still a lot to do. It starts with ensuring that all early literacy programs are aligned with phonics and reading science and rejecting failing policies. States would be well advised to follow the lead of Arkansas and Louisiana which have banned curricula containing 3-cueing. As the podcast series I referenced earlier reveals, this failed method literally teaches young children to guess words rather than working on probing the letters and actually learning. How? ‘Or’ What read.

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I don’t expect parents to know – they shouldn’t have to. But there is an industry that profits from this program, despite overwhelming evidence it harms a child’s reading skills.

It’s time to put students first and end what isn’t working for kids.

But too much is at stake – we all need to play a part in helping every child rise. There are things parents, guardians, grandparents, and any trusted adult in a child’s life can do to help students recover lost learning.

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Invest just 20 minutes in reading each day with a child. And research has found that an extra 30 minutes per week of extra math work has been shown to help students make educational progress.

As a national problem, it requires a national effort. This requires a national commitment to excellence in education for every child. I know we have it in our capacity as Americans to help every child close those gaps and ensure that every child can access their God-given potential for a meaningful life.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT JEB BUSH

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