Special to Frost Illustrated
From 21st Century Parents for Quality Education
Dear EACS Parents/Guardians/Residents/Community:
21st Century Parents for Quality Education’s mission is to provide objective information, reference resources and tools to support member parents who want to be involved in their children’s education and who want to make informed educational choices.
Our executive committee met with new EACS Superintendent Ken Folks, Administrator Marilynn Hissong and the school principals at Southwick, Prince Chapman and Paul Harding Junior High School on July 25, 2013.
What we heard from the school principals are the patented excuses for low academic achievement at our schools: 1) English learners, and 2) special education students. We have questions about the placement of black students in special education, and reminded them all of the last decade of low achievement at Harding community schools.
EACS closed Village Elementary and Paul Harding High School, moved children across the street and some across the parking lot, got new school numbers and appear to be continuing with the ineffective education of our children. The passing IREAD-3 scores were 53.2 percent in 2012 and down to 51.6 percent in 2013—after a boycott was called in 2012 because they were reported to be the lowest scores in northeast Indiana. We believe that decisions about curriculum, staffing, interventions, scheduling and EACS priorities all contribute to the continued lack of progress. The highest ISTEP success rate was achieved at Village using the Voyager Reading Program that EACS no longer uses. Read 180 appears to be the most widely-used program and the best available for struggling middle school readers, but EACS will not use the program as designed with Paul Harding Junior High students. One of only two black teachers at Paul Harding Junior High was laid off because of seniority. The other black teacher is an experienced reading teacher with a master’s degree, who is not teaching reading.
We have grave concerns about whether the core language arts curriculum developed in-house by EACS is effective for Harding community students. We also have grave concerns about using Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI), a program researched for elementary students, with our English-speaking—black students at Paul Harding Junior High School.
21St Century Parents For Quality Education cannot ensure a quality education for your child. Only you can strive to do that. We encourage you to let your voice be heard.
We have requested that EACS make improvement in the reading skills of Harding community students EACS’ #1 priority; however, it appears that any priority is or will be with English learners—not our black children. If your child does not learn to read well, life will likely be difficult for them.
Please review the following statements, then call (260) 441-2543 to express your position.
1. The Voyager Reading Program was the most effective at Village Elementary in the last decade and should be reinstated for English-speaking students—our black children.
2. The Read 180 Program is one of the most widely-used and best available programs for struggling middle school readers and should be continued at Paul Harding Junior High for English-speaking students—our black children; not LLI, a program researched for elementary grades and may work for English learners—but should not be forced on our black children to accommodate English learners. Scheduling Read 180 can replace music, art or other special classes, if necessary, until reading proficiency is achieved.
This is your opportunity to let your voice be heard. Please call (260) 441-2543 with your responses or questions and provide your contact information so that we may keep you informed.
For more information, contact 21st Century Parents for Quality Education at: P.O. Box 6202 Fort Wayne, IN 46896, (260) 441-2543. 21st Century Parents for Quality Education Executive Committee: Jimella Harris, Condra Ridley, Paulette Nellems.
This article originally appeared in the Aug. 7 print edition.