Sunday, July 12, 2009 | When I retired from the City Schools in June of 1996, after 33 years as a teacher, then site counselor, and finally, district counselor (from 1975 to 1996), I made it a point to ask several teachers (as I walked into the sunset) what their greatest challenge was as a classroom teacher; was it deportment, gangs, attendance, wardrobe, class size, lousy benefits?

The answer: the kids can’t read!

What skill is more important to school success, academic success, promotion, self-esteem, intellectual curiousity, and college goals than reading achievement? If the kids can’t read, every morning is like another trip to the dentist! The negative attitude sets in early for children.

The school/library project is noble and visually attractive, but the money is misplaced. For the Board of Education to plow $20 million into a building when that money could go to the elementary reading programs is shameful. They need to build readers, not downtown monuments to “inner city” revitalization. The Board needs to stick to what they supposedly know: educating our children, not erecting new pyramids downtown.

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