In the recent “What’s Hot” report from the International Literacy Association, in which 2,097 respondents from 91 countries and territories were surveyed, an apparent disconnect was seen between what is needed for effective literacy instruction versus the reality of present instructional delivery. Professionals believed early literacy and strategies for differentiation were both “hot” and important, indicating equally important issues included: equity in literacy education, access to books and content, and teacher preparation. Obviously, income inequality is inserting its ugly head not only into our political system, but also into our ability to educate the general populace, per these responses. Yet, literacy professionals continue to be “pushed” to emphasize digital literacy over literacy in general, also asked to assess students endlessly.
In response, literacy professionals are expressing their wish to spend more time 1) ensuring each child has a stack of books easily accessible and close-by, 2) planning for all learning styles and contexts, and 3) participating in professional development opportunities.
We have spoken over the last several months about leaders who read voraciously as children…about the dire need for an educated populace… and about the manner in which reading develops critical thinking skills (and therefore discernment and evaluation of sources). Sadly, along with the ever-increasing rate of “false facts” to which our children are exposed, alarming educational issues remain unsolved, namely 1) ineffectual instructional practices and 2) inequitable access to quality literature. In other words, the flame required to light the wick is being extinguished, despite the loud voices of literacy professionals.
The question to all literacy professionals, therefore, is how best to circumvent “time wasters” and get back to the business of overloading our students with literacy materials and providing exemplary instruction and training, rather than anxiety-ridden assessments, essentially punching holes in the darkness of the current political “ambush.”
Do we rebel and demand the reduction of assessments, as did educators in Seattle a few years back? Do we require our local politicians to fund libraries, as have the good folk in San Francisco? Will we require state legislators to pass acts which provide opportunities for targeted professional development, as did 14 states in 2017?
Such grass-roots collective problem solving should remain paramount in our professional reflections and discussions! Join others in your community and blaze the trail envisioned by literacy experts/respondents across the globe!