Levy would support early reading
Katy and I are voting yes on the LO Learning Levy, Measure 3-547, and we are urging you to join us. It is impossible to point to just one, two or even three special characteristics that make our school district so exceptional, because there are hundreds. At the top of the list are the teachers, our classified staff of support professionals, principals and administrators. Not one of our over 700 incredible employees could do it without the financial support of the citizens of LOSD.
The difference that our local option levy makes each day can be seen in every classroom, in every school and in the academic results our students attain. All students, including my sons Ryan and Christopher, benefit because our community has been strongly supporting the levy since its inception in 2000. Smaller class sizes at every school, specialized academic and vocational classes, and eight period days are just a few of the benefits our children receive because of your support for the levy.
Renewing the levy is central to the most critical skill we teach every student
— READING. Reading is the gateway to the world. If you can't read proficiently, your self-esteem suffers, your options diminish and your likelihood of graduating from high school can become reduced.
Two years ago, our board asked Dr. Beck and Dr. Musick to study and make recommendations on what it would take to increase our graduation rate from 90% to 100%. We weren't interested in "quick fixes," but real move-the-needle solutions that would help the 10% who have historically not made it to the finish line.
Drs. Beck and Musick were clear and direct: we must make sure every child is READING at grade level by the end of third grade. We know that approximately 14% of elementary students have a form of reading challenge: some elementary students are dyslexic, some have reading processing issues, some have difficulty with phonemic awareness, fluency, and/or language processing, which can all lead to struggles with comprehension. These students need reading supports and different strategies.
Dr. Beck and Dr. Musick were emphatic that if we don't intervene beginning in kindergarten, many of these students don't make it to the finish line, academically or emotionally.
Dr. Beck and Dr. Musick began changing the supports several years ago. When they first arrived in LOSD, we had reading specialists who had to split their time between two elementary schools. Drs. Beck and Musick redeployed staff to have one specialist at each elementary school. The problem now is one specialist can only teach approximately 30 students in mostly small groups. Our average would indicate we have 63 students who need serious
reading supports at each elementary school. These specialists not only provide academic support, but also help children with their self-esteem when they strug-
I have talked to dozens of parents who are nearly at their wits' end trying to help their children learn to read. Your vote in favor of the LO Learning Levy will guarantee that, for the next five years, we will have two reading specialists at every single elementary school. Our reading specialists, teachers and classified professionals have the skills, drive and talent to make sure that your "YES" vote on Measure 3-547 will make graduation a reality for every student!
Bob Barman is the chair of the Lake Oswego School Board.
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