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Steps to improve literacy

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Response to Sept. 25 commentary, “Preparing teachers to deliver high-quality reading instruction,” by Nancy Scharff.

As a lifelong early childhood educator, I’d like to tell you what is needed for our children to become readers.

First, poverty needs to be addressed. Families need a living wage, access to health care, and decent housing. Schools need smaller class sizes; certified teachers; school libraries, each staffed with a certified school librarian; full-time counselors and nurses; and an end to the churn that the present superintendent has created. We need to bring back reading specialists and Reading Recovery, a proven remedial program for struggling readers in 1st grade. We don’t need more volunteers flooding into schools taking the place of educated and experienced school staff.

As a regular attendee of School Reform Commission meetings, I witness the “magic money” syndrome. The money disappears and then suddenly reappears when lawyers need to be retained or private companies take over District services (as with the present fiasco with Source4Teachers).

The best professional development I had came from learning from my colleagues – not having some expensive consultant come in and tell us what to do.

Karel Kilimnik

The writer is a retired teacher and co-founder of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.

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