From Petition Creator: At tonight’s Little Rock School District school board meeting, the superintendent, Dr. Dexter Suggs, announced that our elementary schools can KEEP the Reading Recovery program! Principals will now have the prerogative to implement Reading Recovery at their schools, but the funds must come from Title I, NSLA (National School Lunch Act), or grant moneys. While this solution is not ideal, it is still a great victory for the many kids who have benefitted or will benefit from the Reading Recovery program. But the battle is clearly not over. We will keep pressing for Reading Recovery in every school and through partnerships with literacy specialists at UALR, we will work to ensure that these principals and teachers have every resource that they need.
Unfortunately, this victory comes with further qualifications. Our current Reading Recovery teachers were given pink slips several weeks ago. They will still have to reapply for whatever positions are created in the coming year. It is unconscionable that our teachers have been treated this way, and we hope that they rejoin us next year.
We want to express our deepest thanks to our petitioners. Nearly 1,800 people, about half of them Arkansans, signed this petition. This was truly a grassroots effort, and we are grateful for your support.
For those of you who live in central Arkansas, this petition was only the beginning. Let us find inspiration from this small success and press for more accountability from administrators and better opportunities for our community and our schools. These are monumental tasks, but many predecessors in Arkansas and across the South fought and sacrificed for educational opportunities. In my mind, I see Bob Moses, a math teacher from Harlem, walking the dusty roads of Mississippi in the 1960s to register voters before creating the Algebra Project to improve math education in the South. I see nine teenagers walking up the steps at Central High School in Little Rock. And I see Sarah Rice, a relatively unknown Alabama woman born in 1909, fighting for educational equality in the 1950s. She later recalled, “The things we tried to get from the school board, we couldn’t get, and when we had exhausted all our begging and going on to them and trying to show them the reason why we needed it, we went and got it ourselves.”
Parents, teachers, and citizens of Little Rock, the time has come for us to get it ourselves. Let’s exhibit the same dedication and persistence that our civil rights heroes did. There is a place for you in this effort.
Please join us at https://www.facebook.com/abetterlrsd as we work to create the best school system in the country.
To Dr. Dexter Suggs and the LRSD Board:
We, the undersigned, are summarily opposed to ending the Reading Recovery program in the Little Rock School District. For the following reasons, we urge the superintendent and board to continue and expand the current Reading Recovery program.
First, ending this successful program directly violates the first, second, fourth, and fifth “cultural imperatives” in the NEW Little Rock School District. If you are serious about these imperatives, then please provide leadership in following them. If you are not serious about these imperatives, then please stop referring to them.
If Reading Recovery is discontinued, the first imperative, “Children come first!,” will be flouted in favor of specious, short-term financial savings.
The second imperative states, “All employees are accountable for student achievement that meets or exceeds state standards.” The employees who are primarily accountable are teachers. They know what works best, and they overwhelmingly support the Reading Recovery program for helping their students meet state standards.
If “student success is the only option,” the fourth imperative, then a proven program with strong teacher support will be expanded, not cut. In particular, the one-on-one instruction provides our students with the attention and focus they need to catch up to their peers.
Likewise, LRSD’s Reading Recovery specialists have an impressive record of discovering and nurturing potential, the fifth imperative. Teachers are much more likely to discover and nurture potential when each student has their undivided attention.
Second, research confirms that Reading Recovery works. The Reading Recovery program is “the world’s most widely researched intervention for young children having extreme difficulty with early literacy learning,” according to UALR. The U. S. Department of Education found Reading Recovery “to have positive effects on general reading achievement and potentially positive effects on alphabetics, reading fluency, and comprehension for beginning readers.”
We believe the choice is clear. The LRSD should keep and expand Reading Recovery.