Which Reading Program Is Right?

By: Laura Gibbs
By: Laura Gibbs

Last week teachers were informed that their current reading program, Direct Instruction, is going to be replaced. That decision is leaving many wondering why.

In an effort to get all Rockford public schools to use the same reading program, district leaders want to implement Balanced Literacy at Lewis Lemon School. Lewis Lemon is the only school that is still using Direct Instruction.

Parent DaVita McWilliams says, "Changes were made and then parents were told about them. They were changes that we thought we should have been informed of first."

Rockford School Board member Mike Williams agrees. He states, "We wouldn't want to tamper with Montessori unless we knew it would be better. Changing reading at Lewis Lemon, I haven't seen any evidence that what we are putting in place is going to make the situation better, so it's a double standard."

Direct Instruction is a fast paced program filled with plenty of group and individual response. With Balanced Literacy students will work in small ability groups, but with 92 percent of students at Lewis Lemon being African American, these parents say Direct Instruction is the program that best fits the students.

Parent Tamara Watkins speaks very highly of Direct Instruction. She says her first grader is trying to read her medical books.

Watkins told 23 News, “There's adults that can't do that and she was sounding out the words by using Direct Instruction. That's important and that's what we want to keep."

Williams says, "The school has never been on the state ‘Watch’ or ‘Warning List.’ The last couple of years students perform higher than the rest of the students in the area."

Through signs, petitions, and flyers these parents want other school board members and other parents to voice their opinion. They also hope that with more support the reading program will be allowed to continue this year and many years to come.

McWilliams says, "The minority parents in Rockford as a whole, we have a voice. We have an opinion and we are concerned about the future of our children and their education."

These parents plan to picket the next board meeting that is scheduled for January 25. That is also the day the board is supposed to make a decision in regards to outsourcing maintenance workers.


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