Message to Michigan State Representatives Thomas Hooker and Ken Yonker

Gentlemen:

Just a short note to ask you not to support HB 5111 when it comes to a vote in the House Education Committee.
 
While all of us agree that we need to find solutions to children coming to school ready to read, particularly in impoverished, low English-speaking communities, punishing these students by failing them in the third grade if they haven’t made enough progress trying to overcome these barriers, is the wrong direction.
 
This bill does not help our schools serve challenged students or support their parents. It does not provide the resources and staffing we need to run higher quality reading programs that overcome the effects of poverty, limited English proficiency, transiency, segregation, and other special needs. This bill simply holds students back, a strategy that research has proven does not produce better results.
 
In the end, this bill will likely prove more costly than adequately resourcing high needs schools in the first place with each additional year of school draining more funds from taxpayers. Based on evidence, dropout rates may increase down the road as a result leading to higher unemployment, crime, incarcerations and more children growing up in poverty. Investing some of these funds now to improve early childhood education and supports for parents living in poverty will have a more positive impact on achievement. Hold the schools and parents accountable but don’t lay the burden on the child.
 
Should the House Committee decide to ignore the evidence against retention and vote this bill through, I would ask that you do everything possible to slow down the legislative process and provide more time for study and input from education professionals, economists, and others interested in the welfare of children. This should not be a decision made lightly.
 
Regards,
 
David
 
Also see:
 
 
 
 
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About David Britten

Retired U.S. Army Officer, former elementary, middle and high school principal, currently serving as a public school superintendent.
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