Basic literacy is essential for all our citizens, yet less than half the students passed the reading portion of California's most recent statewide literacy tests. What a monumental failure.
In fact, 11 of the lowest performing school districts in the country are in California. Using the state's own tests many schools have fallen below 10 percent proficiency in reading. Incredible as it may seem the school wide reading proficiency rate for La Salle Elementary in the Los Angeles School District is for example is a dismal 4%.
In December of 2017, two pro bono law firms representing La Salle students and parents among others filed a landmark lawsuit against the State of California. According to the suit the state has failed to insure that students get the instruction needed to adequately read. One former teacher at La Salle who is also part of the lawsuit expressed his frustration with Los Angeles Unified School District. For example computers with literacy software that were so needed for reading instruction were actually removed by LAUSD from his classroom, where they claimed that the school did not qualify under LAUSD's need definition.
Right now the state does not have a system In place to make sure that there is effective literacy instruction occurring in California schools. The State of California needs to ensure that school districts are properly evaluated and do the following:
- Make sure all schools in the state have effective literacy instruction programs.
- Insure thorough Instruction at the elementary and secondary level.
- Determine which students are having trouble reading and set up special literacy programs for them.
- Supply up to date and continuous training for instructors in how to best teach reading.
The fact that so many of our school children cannot read is absolutely unacceptable. The state of California is largely responsible for this failure. It's up to the President of California's State Board of Education, Dr. Michael Kirst and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson. They must make things right. The future of our children and our state depends on it.
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