It’s Now or Never
One of the results of true education reforms is when students legitimately learn to read by the third grade. Students learning to read ensures that no child is left behind. To preserve this country’s freedoms requires a literate society. It is urgent that we eliminate educational practices based on popularity or fads. The formal assessment period takes too long to identify non-readers. Once they are identified, it’s too late for remediation. Learning to read after the third grade is like going back to school after dropping out four years earlier. It’s not going to happen. Declaring war on illiteracy is urgent. It’s now or never!
What can we do to change our educational system to turn it around and make it an effective and viable system? We must take the same approach as Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Center when they diagnose breast cancer. They treat it as an urgent medical crisis. In fact, they know that time could be the difference between life or death. Here is how treatment works. An Oncologist assumes you have breast cancer until they prove that you don’t have it. Professional educators should take the same stance with reading where they assume all of our children can’t read and prove that they can read. This requires a paradigm shift in our educational landscape.
We do not have a problem in identifying non-readers. The problem is how to teach a child to read. Something must be done. One key solution to helping students learn to read is to hire a specialized trained individual with a proven research-based program that works. We must have train teachers to become a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT), who has the expertise working with learning disabled and dyslexic students. These professionals are not focused on qualifying students for Special Education, but they focus on reading remediation as early as four or five years old.
It’s imperative that the CALT not only be the gate keeper for all non-readers, but be on the forefront of creating a culture of reading in schools. To ensure that education reform is sustained and students are literate, we must have two CALTs at every elementary school in the country. They will be able to identify and help provide remediation for non-readers and/or those students with showing characteristics of dyslexia. A CALT has the expertise to give students and parents hope with a personalized educational plan for a student.
Traditional and non-traditional elementary schools and even colleges/universities must target and even incentivize teachers to participate in our language therapy program designed to train CALTs. Immediate remediation by a CALT is critical once a student has been identified with LD characteristics and/or dyslexia. With two CALTs in each elementary school, we can ensure that all children with characteristics of learning disabilities or dyslexia are not only identified, but remediated immediately so they can learn to read by third grade then read to learn. It’s now or never!