Opinion: To address literacy, understand link with poverty

December 18, 2019
By PAULA HERBART/President – Michigan Education Association

Some of us remember the old “Reading is Fundamental” ad campaign, which encouraged parents to read to their children. Today, that fundamental is even more critical, especially in light of how poverty and lagging literacy levels intersect.

Too often, lawmakers look for “silver bullet” solutions — like the reading law that threatens to retain third graders who do not meet literacy benchmarks this spring — rather than understanding more complex needs, like building a strong foundation of literacy skills to ensure future success.

Front-line educators have a deep understanding of the problem. Colby Sharp, a nationally-recognized literacy expert and a fifth grade teacher in Jackson County, put it this way:

“We have a poverty issue more than anything. Children from high poverty areas are less likely to live in homes with 100 or more books, or to attend schools with rich library collections. Research shows that kids surrounded by books are more likely to succeed at reading than those who are not.”

Click here to read the entire article


Labor Voices Newsroom


Launch Michigan educator survey results show causes and potential solutions to educator shortage

With educator shortages crippling the state’s K–12 workforce and impacting learning opportunities for students, Launch Michigan today released the findings of a statewide survey of more than 5,000 public school teachers and other professionals. The findings shed light on many of the reasons why Michigan educators are leaving the profession. Launch Michigan, a partnership of business, […]

Whitmer signs ’20-21 K-12 budget

On Tuesday in Kentwood, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the 2021-22 K-12 education budget, which invests a record $17.1 billion in schools and equalizes the state’s foundation grant funding for districts at $8,700 per pupil. MEA President Paula Herbart joined Whitmer at the press conference announcing the signing.  See her remarks in this WLNS news coverage […]