Senator Berta Gardner

August 22, 2014

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Serving Midtown,
Spenard, and UMed

433 W. 4th Ave.
Anchorage, AK 99501
Call Me: 1-800-331-4930

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Reading by Third Grade

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It is never too early to develop a love for reading.
It is never too early to develop a love for reading.

        The topic was "Reading by Grade 3" and I thought to myself "This is not a fresh theme.  We all know that grade 3 is when all kids should be able to read to learn, having already learned to read.  We know that 3rd grade reading scores correlate with high school completion."  However, I felt an obligation to attend this particular session because I am a delegate to the Education committee.  I am glad I did.

        Major General Mark Musick gave a call to action, representing MissionReadiness.Org, a group of  more than 450 retired Admirals and Generals working to persuade policy makers to support American security and economic prosperity by:

  • Expanding high quality preschool programs;
  • Improving the quality of food served in our schools;
  • Increasing physical fitness and health of our young people. 

        He also spoke about the work of, a group of more than 1,000 business leaders working to education politicians and the public about the need to strengthen business and the economy through proven investments in children and youth.  Their number one priority is for improvements in the quality of childcare and early education.

        The most impactful speaker on the panel, for me at least, was the representative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, reporting on the research recently completed about why so many children are not reading by grade 3.

  • Many children start school already so far behind that even high quality schools and effective teachers struggle to help them overcome the deficits.
  • Many children miss too much school, because of poor parenting, health issues and any of the multitude of challenges often associated with poverty.
  • Many children lose ground over the summer because they do not read and are not read to.  Teachers agree that the first two months of a new school year are spent in bringing kids back up to speed.

        Solutions were proposed and discussed.  They take initiative, commitment and yes, money...a lot of money.  I have to say that for Alaska, I will not be surprised if the legislature continues to underfund education the same as last year...and the several years prior to that.  It will not be good enough and I will not stand for it. Yes, the state can afford to do what is needed if we rethink our priorities.

         I’m Berta and I’m still listening,

         If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office

signed: Berta


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