Put learning at the center of education

To the Editor:

I applaud the Hyde Park Herald for reporting on the newsworthy events that inform and revitalize our community. The Hyde Park-Kenwood neighborhood represents such a diverse and civic minded community and I am proud of our accomplishments and contributions to the further development of Hyde Park-Kenwood — home of President Barack Hussein Obama and possibly a presidential library.

HP-K should focus on school community and the future of our children. If we want to set a precedent of a well-balanced economy within our school community it requires all community members to identify themselves as education stakeholders. As you know the prosperity and freedoms — no matter how big or small — we experience every day are due to everyone working together on one accord — furthering education.

Today, I plead that we all reconsider the school of thought that permeates the development of our school community and our child-centered education philosophy. There’s one school of thought that I advocate — readiness, and there is another school of thought used today — high stakes testing and school choice.

My school of thought — well research-based — allows for a child to be assessed and tested on his or her own instructional level as to experience the beauty of his or her proficiency or mastery of any given standard. The latter school of thought tests a child on his or her frustration level that results in failure and man-made deficiencies, and gives the family a false sense of the necessity of school choice.

Families can determine their child’s reading level by their child reading and retelling a book —independent reading level by use of the Fry readability formula. Therefore, the instructional level is one level above the independent level, and the frustration level is two levels above the independent level.

Throughout history we have learned that literacy (reading and writing), standards, and benchmarks determine upward mobility in society unless we inherit wealth. So, literacy as we know is imperative to success and even survival in an volatile society, while humanity is often challenged by a lack of resources and violence.

Our responsibility, education stakeholders, is not to let the illiteracy cycle continue —encourage literacy. Please allow our children an inquiry-based education informally (in community/home) and formally (in school). Open the doors of your business for children to ask questions. Maybe give them a small treat if they understand the concept and principle you use to operate your business. Let them in on the main idea, details, and supporting details of your business as convenient. Make your home print rich and require that your child find his or her reading level and monitor as they retell books.

Illiteracy threatens the concept of community and people working together for a common goal and the rewards of that goal being priceless — education.

Patricia Breckenridge
CPS Teacher/Reading Clinician
HPK resident