Elementary reading test

A third-grader works on a reading lesson at Anderson Elementary School in Tulsa. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World file

I am writing in response to Byron Schlomach’s article “Why Can’t Oklahoma’s Kids Read Any Better?”, which appeared in the Skiatook Journal on February 7, 2020. After reading, I tried to find the main point of your article. Are you looking for answers as to why our children have lower reading scores, or are you angry with teachers, our State Superintendent, Public schools, and/or Colleges and Universities?

My $5,000 raise was deeply appreciated, however, this raise, neither before nor after made any difference in my teaching ability. I have taught for 22 years to the very best of my ability. I had pride in my teaching before the raise, and I still have that same pride, ability, zeal and rigor. The raise does allow for more of my money to go back into the classroom, but yet holds no relevance to my ability to teach. Money does not make GREAT teachers, but it does allow our GREAT teachers to stay in this profession.

As for Pre-K programs, they are designed to help young children with socialization as well as early intervention. They prepare children for Kindergarten and provide an early start to learning, which, doesn’t always mean those student will excel and move above and beyond others. It does not mean that those students who attend Pre-k will be an entire year ahead of those who did not attend. It does not mean those students will become super readers or will be at the top of their class. It does provide an early intervention to help them get a good start, an early start, to be prepared for kindergarten. Remember, they are still only 4 years old.

Looking into classrooms one will find many Oklahoma teachers teaching Phonics, Sight words and how to use context clues. We use these methods because, according to research, this is how children learn to read. We do teach all the different strategies, because we understand the reasoning. Phonics is very important, but also reading words by sight.

Children cannot “sound out” or learn the rule for the word “said” so they do have to memorize it and many others. Research shows that learning words by sight helps with reading fluency. In addition to these skills, we teach comprehension, analyzing the text, summarizing, character, plot, setting, problems and solutions.

There is more to reading and the “Reading Test” than just reading. I invite you to come to my classroom so that I can further explain or show you how some of these reading methods or strategies work.

As to students with trauma, these students have a very little chance to gain any new knowledge until they feel safe. They are suffering within and are thinking about what has happened at home and what will happen when they return home. When learning about children with trauma or any type of emotional issues such as broken homes, homelessness, or depression, imagine an iceberg. We only see what is on top, what is on the outside.

We have no idea what is under the water, what is on the inside, what they are thinking. Teachers DO need reminded of this. We do need professional development where we have the time to stop our teaching and breathe, where we have time to talk and be reminded of all these things that may be happening within our communities. We all need to understand that during these times of trauma or emotional issues, children have a very difficult time learning, if they can even learn at all.

I understand that you are a director of scholars dedicated to “making Oklahoma the best it can be.” May I say, this article does not help in that pursuit. Your point seemed to spread negativity and point fingers at a problem rather than help to make Oklahoma the best.

If you want to “Make Oklahoma the best it can be” perhaps researching and bringing solutions to the table would be more helpful and along the lines of “Who you are.”

There is a lot more going on in Oklahoma schools than you realize. Which actually surprises me that you do not have a better understanding considering your wife is Oklahoma Public school teacher.

I am an OKLAHOMA Public school teacher as well. I am proud of what I do. So what IS your point? If the point of your article “Why Can’t Oklahoma’s Kids Read Any Better?” was to meant to spread negativity and belittle teachers, it does neither to this teacher’s heart and soul because I know you have been provided with misleading information. Your words do not urge me to do a better job at teaching- — my own integrity forces me to do such.

Carol Ward

National Board Certified

Kindergarten Teacher

Skiatook Oklahoma

Follow me on Twitter @SkiatookJournal.

E-mail lindsey.chastain@skiatookjournal.com

Managing Editor

Lindsey is the managing editor for the Skiatook Journal. She holds an M.A in English from the University of Central Oklahoma. Prior to the start of her news career in 2011, Renuard was a professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma.