Letters to editor: April 21 - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Letters to editor: April 21

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Posted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 12:12 pm

SOCIAL PROMOTION: Retain students

If a problem is surfacing, fixing it before it becomes even worse is the best thing to do. Retaining illiterate third graders before they graduate high school and being a burden to society is a smart idea. Here are two reasons why.

It greatly increases a student’s ability to read and write. Florida is proof of this. Before holding back illiterate third graders, nearly half of Florida’s young students could not read at grade level. As a result of retaining them, fourth graders in Florida now test above the national average in reading.

According to Jeb Bush, Chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, retaining illiterate third graders can enhance their ability to read and write independently and confidently at the end of the third grade. Speaking with experience, if I were held back at third grade and completed it again, relearning and mastering the reading skills I learned would have drastically helped me through school. Holding back third graders who have made mistakes can help students understand them and learn from them so it doesn’t happen again.

Passing the proposed law that retains illiterate third graders who cannot read at grade level is a smart idea. It stops small problems from getting bigger and it enhances the chances of a successful future. So do the kids a favor and pass the proposed law. A successful future is not worth temporary satisfaction.

Iann Gongora, Dobson High School sophmore

Revise current policy to focus on literacy

In our shrinking world of shared knowledge and digital wiring, reading is as important as ever. Jobs require more and more education and being illiterate impedes the chance for a good life. For third graders who fall far below the standards, Arizona’s legislature has proposed a bill to help give them a better chance. This bill revises the current law to create a “gateway” for them; pass the test and get promoted, fail and you are retained from graduating. The bill has some good ideas but there are some flaws.

Trouble first starts with the idea of such a huge decision decided on a single test. We are talking about third graders. Children that young have trouble concentrating. Plus, imagine a student who cannot read but has a streak of luck and guesses himself into the next grade while a child who can read has poor test-taking skills and fails.

Second is stated perfectly in Colleen Stump’s article: “How will your child feel about being retained? Will she (or he) be more motivated to learn and try, or will she (or he) be embarrassed and further withdraw from learning?” The existing version of the proposed bill does not account for those students who could not adapt to socio-emotional adjustments in self-esteem and peer relationships and jeopardizes them.

Both the bill and our present-day law have promise, but certain things need to be changed. What we should try first is revising the current policy since there are still places to amend with things like producing more programs to focus on illiterate students. When the current law cannot be improved, then we should focus on such a bill to overhaul the system.

Juliana Bennett, Dobson High School sophomore

Letters policy: Click here to submit a letter to the editor. Please be brief (no more than 300 words) and type or print name, address, city and phone number for verification. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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