Raleigh, N.C. — Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) today released the below statement regarding implementation of the Read to Achieve children’s literacy program.
The program, which is part of state law, prohibits school districts from advancing students to the fourth grade if those students cannot read. That is because in fourth grade, students begin relying on their reading skills to learn new material.
If a student cannot read properly by fourth grade, data shows that the student is much less likely to succeed in their remaining school years — dramatically increasing the probability of dropping out, not attending college, and failing to obtain gainful employment. The data is clear: Fourth grade is a critical time in a student’s life and impacts his or her probability of future success.
Senator Berger said, “Promoting a child to fourth grade who cannot properly read is one of the most harmful and cruel actions the education bureaucracy can take. A student who cannot properly read is unlikely to learn at grade level in subsequent school years, setting that child up for failure. It must stop now.
“Administrative resistance to ‘embarrassing’ students, and the education bureaucracy’s refusal to explain why a child is unable to read, has been allowed to trump providing children with the basic skill necessary for success. It’s nothing short of malpractice and another example of the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations.’
“And to those who argue that disadvantaged students may be disproportionately held back under this policy: There is no better guarantor of intergenerational poverty than failing to educate a child. If a child cannot read properly by fourth grade, that child is significantly less likely to succeed. To ignore that reality is to risk that child’s potential and perhaps sentence her to a lifetime of underachieving. It’s cruel and it must stop.”