It seems Al Johnson has worn out his welcome in our sister city, Ketchikan. Now Mr. Johnson wants to peddle to a Juneau audience his personal, and need I say distorted, interpretation of statistics about student reading scores and what they represent. (Empire, Oct. 18,).
The reading tragedy
Recently, the fine folks of Ketchikan grew weary of School Board member Johnson. May 24, 2001, they held a very special recall election for the sole purpose of removing him and others from the Ketchikan School Board. Which they did, with Mr. Johnson receiving the most votes for removal from the Ketchikan School Board.
Now Ketchikan enjoys a more community-based approach for assessing their children's learning needs, and the methods by which to best address those needs.
I don't mean to diminish the serious literacy problems in Juneau. Too few children read for pleasure or otherwise. Too many children watch too much television for their mental stimulation and values formation. Too many parents don't understand or care enough about the importance of literacy for their children. There are as many variables as there are children in our schools.
Plenty of work remains to be done in Juneau to improve literacy for our children. Fortunately, there is no lack of effort or concern on the part of Juneau's teachers to remedy our literacy challenges in Juneau's schools.
Could Mr. Johnson have only known that his diatribe would be published in the Juneau Empire on the very day that more than 350 Juneau teachers met with their colleagues to work on important student learning issues, such as literacy. None of the teachers I worked with today indicated that they needed the expertise of Al Johnson. And apparently, folks in Ketchikan feel the same way.
Fortunately, we don't need Mr. Johnson to keep us informed about literacy issues in Juneau. If you want to know how well your child reads, I think you know what to do. If you care to know how well students in general read, like Mr. Johnson, you could rely on some test scores for whatever you think they are measuring and what it means. Or you could visit a classroom. And perhaps volunteer some time to read with a child while you are there.
It's October. Perfect reading weather. Read with a child today.
Juneau-Douglas High School
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