BOE Speech-Early Readers

Good evening.
Tonight I represent thousands of young JeffCo readers.

As we all should know, 2/3 of Jeffco students did not meet state reading standards in 2019. Knowing this, Jeffco should be doing anything and everything, all hands on deck, to right this wrong.

My expertise as an elementary teacher compels me to stand and speak for the students and parents of JeffCo who are dependent on our public schools for the education of children. I have taught hundreds of young children to read successfully. As the recipient of the Mile High Teacher award from the Mayor of Denver 💯 of my 1st graders learned to read on grade level and above for more than 1 year in a row. My diverse classroom consisted of black, white, Asian, Arabic, Indian and Polynesian students. English was a second language for many of my 6 and 7 year old students. My recent resume includes participating on a CDE Spanish literacy review team. I speak with complete confidence when I say that almost every young student has it in them to build a successful and fluent reading foundation by the end of 1st grade. Children with speech setbacks face the biggest climb to the top of the reading mountain. I am here to tell you tonight that you have enabled speech setbacks in most of our young children by enforcing masking during reading instruction. The reading developmental window in the early grades is crucial to setting children on a road to success in all academic areas. If you don’t have personal experience and success teaching large numbers of children to read then I ask you to take it from those who do.

Our 5, 6, 7 year olds should learn more than 100 decoding skills. They should know these as well as they know how to navigate their iPads. They should know the different places where these sounds are formed (with their teeth, with their throat, at the top of their mouths…). They consciously and subconsciously watch their teachers’ mouths for cues. They learn to segment and blend phonemes. They build a solid sight word vocabulary consisting of hundreds of words. They sequence, retell, make inferences and connections. They read and reread and read and reread to build fluency. All of this takes nearly all of their brainpower and energy and requires the use of their mouths and the development of their language. And yet, as a district with 2/3 of 3rd graders not reading on grade level, the majority of JeffCo BOE members appear to minimize and ignore the incredible learning loss of early readers by allowing a PHO to remove your responsibility to our children.

Please consider this:
Learning to read properly is as important to a child’s well being as eating lunch.
Learning to read is as important as playing an instrument indoors.
Both of these activities have recently been amended in the PHO due to community feedback.

Tonight, I have a specific, fair, and reasonable request that will have a monumental outcome if you take action. Young readers should be meeting in small group settings which traditionally last around 15 minutes. Please do what needs to be done in order to allow parents to give their young children permission to remove their masks during small group reading instruction. If you refuse to make this decision as a Board, please reach out to Dawn Comstock, the Board of Health, and County Commissioners to request this critical and simple adjustment to the PHO.

You must do all you can to chip away one by one the suffocating restrictions that profoundly hinder the learning of our little ones. Please, set them free to read.

Thank you.