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Opinion | Reading expert asks governor to delay Alabama Literacy Act

“Alabama educators are on the right course for teaching literacy as a result of the 2019 Literacy Act.”

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As a resident of Alabama and a nationally and internationally recognized thought leader in the science of reading, I urge Governor Ivey to sign the bill delaying the third-grade literacy law for two years as approved by a bipartisan legislative vote.

The delay will enable early identification of children with reading deficiencies in preschool through grade three and provide support for teaching phonics as structured literacy, a grade-by-grade spelling curriculum (which many Alabama schools don’t yet have in place), and a handwriting curriculum—all essential for the development of reading brain circuitry. Alabama educators are on the right course for teaching literacy as a result of the 2019 Literacy Act.

For example, Huntsville City Schools, one of the best school districts in the state, is a leading flagship with its recent adoption of a science-based grade-by-grade spelling program. But in many districts, the early literacy ship has run aground due to the pandemic. More time is needed to right the ship.

Rather than fail kids who are struggling give Alabama educators the tools they need—including more time and resources—to teach preschool through Grade 3 learners to read, write, and spell. Doing so will enable Alabama educators to reach higher to fulfill each child’s God-given right for literacy creating a pathway for every child to reach his or her full-life potential.

Written By

Richard Gentry Ph.D.is an independent researcher, author, and educational consultant and a former university professor, reading center director, and elementary school teacher. He is the author of 17 books including the recently released Brain Words: How the Science of Reading Informs Teaching(Stenhouse, 2019) co-authored with Canadian psychologist Gene Ouellette. Richard speaks nationally and internationally at educational conferences and blogs for Psychology Today. He earned his Elementary Education degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. in Reading Education from the University of Virginia.

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