Reading is still fundamental

Published 11:28 pm Friday, January 29, 2016

No one disputes reading is important; one might even say fundamental. So when test scores show students lagging in reading, educators and parents worry. Everyone should worry; students who can’t read at their grade level are likely to graduate — if they do graduate — at a significant disadvantage.

There is no shortage of ideas for how to improve reading, but there is a shortage of funding, and not all ideas are created equal, anyway. When the state Legislature cut funding to local school systems, many of those systems cut reading specialists upon whom they relied to help boost reading scores.

Cedar Ridge Middle School, however, has instituted a program that costs nothing, at least in terms of money.

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Each morning at 9:30, students — as well as teachers, counselors and administrators — drop everything else and spend the next 20 minutes reading.

It’s largely self-directed. Students can read pretty much whatever they like, be it a book, magazine or newspaper. All the school does is provide the dedicated time.

It may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Students have lots of things competing for their time: homework, sports and extracurricular activities. That’s just what school demands of them. It doesn’t take into account video games, movies, TV, spending time with friends and family, household chores and all the other demands on a busy student’s life. Heaven help the student who also takes piano lessons or dance classes.

With so many things vying for kids’ time and so much of that time structured, a block of time where the only requirement is to read must seem like a calm in the storm for many students.