Sunday, August 7, 2011

Preaching to the Choir?

I took a week off from work and this blog to spend 5 wonderful days at the beach with my daughter. It was our fifth annual trip, and this one was especially sweet after a long, exhausting (and yes, fun) summer.

I did send a letter to our State Superintendent of Schools. Along with the letter I sent copies of The Fellowship of the Ring and Bunnicula Strikes Again. I will very likely post my complete letter on this blog, but first I want to wait and see what kind of response I get. That way I can post my letter along with (hopefully) his response. I tried my best to write a letter that would inform not inflame. I had a little help in editing and several colleagues gave me the thumbs up, so I hope I will be able to make some small impact.

I encourage readers from other states being affected by this to write letters to both state and local agencies about Lexile™ When I bring these issues up on list serves, I sometimes get told I am preaching to the choir. But my thoughts are this. If there is a choir out there – why aren’t we singing on the front lawn of our state capitol? I don't really want to preach to the choir, but I don't mind singing with the choir! I realize that there are so many issues out there, that it is easy to let this just be a little nag that gets ignored. However, I think that we did this we Accelerated Reader for years and the result of inaction was to get something even worse.

This will be only the first of other letters. I have been noticing that No Child Left Behind is starting to get more coverage that questions the practicality of the law. This is because we are closer to the 2014 deadline in which all schools are supposed to meet the goals at 100%. The standards keep getting higher. Fewer school systems are making the cut. It is now more obvious what a sham the whole thing is. It is a great time to write to the press and show them how this law is impacting our children’s reading. So I am thinking in some upcoming weeks, I will also write to our local media and see what interest can be generated that way as well.

I do want to share a celebratory story of something that happened just before I left for my vacation. A rising 5th grade boy came into the library about four days before the end of our vacation reading program. He had a little more reading left to do before he can finish his goal. He was really pushing his mom and me to help him find something short and simple – didn’t care if he would really like it – just to make the goal. I reminded him that if he found a good book he really liked – even if it was longer he would still make his goal and have something to keep on reading for that last week before school got out. I handed him a copy of my summer pick that I had been stashing copies of behind my desk all summer – Gregor, the Overlander by Suzanne Collins. This young man took the book. He came in on our closing day of the program and asked where I was. He couldn’t wait to find and tell me how much he loved the book and that he was already bugging his Mom to buy him the whole series. He had already finished his goal and was still reading. I went and got our director and had her give him and extra pat on the back. He left the library with the biggest smile and was telling his Mom – I am a reading champion! That was a gratifying moment. We can still focus on what is most important and have some success. Despite the barriers that are being placed in front of us, no one can change the magic that happens when children are encouraged to read good books.

Now, off to prepare for my first day back to work after 8 days out. It is also the first day of school for our local kids - so a big day all around. Happy Week and Happy Reading everyone!