Education is one of my passions. My vision of having a literate America is very real to me. They call me a “starry-eyed dreamer.” “Impossible,” they tell me. I don’t believe that.
Recent events have reinforced my belief that a literate America is possible.
As regular readers know, I don’t always agree with the powers that be on how education is delivered. That has been true with the Fairfield-Suisun School District. I do a poor job of letting folks know that the local district is not where education policy decisions are made. I have a feeling they may be far more frustrated at the school district than I am. They must do things they may not agree with.Yes, I do understand.
I had a very enjoyable meeting with Superintendent Kris Corey and members of the board of trustees. We talked about something we all agree on and that is helping children acquire the skills that will help them become successful adults; primarily the ability to read proficiently.
I am genuinely excited to tell you that our district is on the way to having every child reading proficiently by the time they reach the fourth grade. It has adopted the Learning Dynamics reading system in its kindergarten and transitional kindergarten classes.
The program really works. I am familiar with it because it is the same program that Tools of Learning for Children has used for 14 years to produce readers. Children who are using this system are reading when they reach kindergarten. To adopt the Learning Dynamics Reading System was a stroke of genius. It has been incredibly successful. What a legacy for Corey and the board of trustees.
Fairfield-Suisun is the first district to achieve third-grade reading proficiency. It certainly doesn’t have to be the only Solano County district to do so. The possibilities are, in my view, staggering. Corey and the board of trustees can take their success to every other district in the county and say, “See what is possible. Won’t you join us?”
Solano County Office of Education Superintendent Jay Speck can facilitate the discussion and become a part of the reading miracle legacy. An added benefit for Speck is that it will, in the long term, keep kids in school and almost eliminate the dropout problem. Kids drop out of school primarily because they cannot complete assignments if they read poorly, and because they are embarrassed by appearing to be “dumber” than their peers.
I have worked with the Learning Dynamics family for many years. They have been of great help to the Tools program. They share my vision of creating a literate America. I am sure they will do whatever is necessary to help Solano County districts be as successful as the Fairfield-Suisun district has become.
I was talking to a friend about the possibilities of the county schools becoming the best in the state (perhaps nation) in equipping children to succeed. “But, it’s not your program,” he said. My response was, “So what?” These folks are dedicated professionals who in all probability will not need my help. But, I will help in any way I can. The results are what count.
I see this as an opportunity to plant the seeds of the creation of the finest education system in the world. The pieces are there; most failures are a result of not trying because someone says, “It isn’t possible.” Most great successes result from trying anyway; learning from our mistakes and trying again. In this case, we are really looking at learning from our success. A success-based adventure, or as the old saying goes, “finding something that works and replicating it.”
Am I an optimist, or what? If this happens, I will be a most happy fellow. It can happen.
Murray Bass can be reached at 427-0744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.