Since being named to Gov. Scott Walker’s Read to Lead Task Force, I have come under some political scrutiny by those who oppose the governor’s conservative agenda, most notably his attempt to disenfranchise teachers of their right to bargain collectively. Evidently, there are some who feel that it is acceptable to thwart an initiative that seeks to remedy the deplorable state of reading achievement in our state and use it as a weapon to extract some measure of political redress.
I am willing to take political heat for my participation on the panel, but the fact that I must is symptomatic of why we have been stymied in our efforts to address a public health issue of pandemic proportions and leave countless children as collateral damage in the process.
Having been both a teacher and administrator, and having served several stints as my school’s union representative, I am naturally opposed to any action that would reduce teacher benefits and marginalize due process protections. But such issues have no place in any discussion that seeks to address how we set about the task of building competent readers. While we have much to accomplish in that regard, there are those who would claim otherwise even though:
Two-thirds of state fourth-graders cannot demonstrate age-appropriate reading ability.
Wisconsin’s rank for that same cohort has dropped precipitously over the past decade – from 3rd to 30th among all states and the District of Columbia.