Editorial: Reading initiative support

Feb. 03, 2014 @ 10:31 PM

Throughout Vance County, the push is on to get books to our third-graders.

Implementations of new standards set by the government are designed to improve proficiency. If they’re not hitting the mark, they won’t become fourth-graders.

Practice can make perfect, or at least provide the opportunity. That’s why books are needed. The United Way is anchoring the effort with a February book drive, and it’ll be the residents of Vance County that lead the way with donations.

Our children’s education is the reward for all of us.

The face of education is changing daily, from charter schools to educational requirements. The high school dropout rate has declined over three decades, from 14.1 percent to 8.1 percent, and the number of students going to college has risen in that time from 49 percent to 70 percent. Two out of three high school graduates in North Carolina are choosing some level of college.

Vance County has the full spectrum — students going to Ivy League schools, students not graduating. More than 500 have graduated who might not have otherwise through the alternative experience of Western Vance High.

A valid question on how well the numbers could change is linked to the ability of third-graders to read. Remember, last spring, more than 200 students who were freshmen in the fall of 2009 didn’t get a diploma from Vance County Schools. We can’t dismiss the possibility of a correlation.

State Rep. Nathan Baskerville, a Henderson Democrat, has broached the idea of students not being eligible for extra-curricular activities if parent-teacher conferences don’t include their parents.

In assessing the success of charter schools, one element is tied to parental involvement. And parental involvement has been dwindling in traditional public schools for years. Perhaps Baskerville’s idea needs to be heard again and acted upon.

Reading is fundamental, and we agree with Ronald Gregory, Vance superintendent, that a child’s socio-economic status has no bearing on the ability to learn. It can, however, have a bearing on access to extra reading materials.

That’s where we all help. Drop off the books at any of three locations: at Nationwide Insurance at 191 Ruin Creek Road, at The Dispatch at 304 South Chestnut Street, and at the United Way office at 212 Dabney Drive.

And remember, it’s for the children.