Opinion: Right to read


Published: 11-22-2023 7:00 AM

Joanne Grobecker lives in Merrimack.

I am a proud alumni of the University of New Hampshire. I graduated Magna Cum Laude in English Teaching in 2006. It is hard seeing an institution I respect defending a part of their teacher preparation program that needs improvement instead of implementing changes.

I took a course from Professor Newkirk as an English Teaching major at UNH. He is knowledgeable and I learned a lot from him. I am concerned that he is defending that only 33% of fourth graders can read proficiently. The fact that 67% of fourth graders cannot read proficiently should be a call to action.

After completing my undergraduate program I went on to the graduate program for Elementary Education. In my course in Elementary Education Teaching Reading the curriculum was focused on how kids should love books and we should fill the classroom with books. There was no instruction in how to teach phonics or the skills required to be a proficient reader.

I did all the graduate Elementary Education courses, passed my Praxis, and was halfway through the internship year when I walked away with one semester of internship when I left the program because I wasn’t prepared to teach reading.

My internship experience showed me that children were not being taught how to read. It was hard to walk away from my childhood dream of teaching but the current education system was not set up to teach children to read and I did not have the knowledge to change things.

I wrote my final project on generational poverty and how our current educational model isn’t preparing students. It wasn’t until my own daughters were back in the same education system and I saw nothing had changed that I realized I needed to be the change.

New Hampshire is making huge changes in literacy and higher education teacher preparation programs need to acknowledge the opportunities so our children can learn to read. The ability to read proficiently is crucial to being engaged and productive citizens. We owe it to all children to ensure they learn how to read.

I call on all higher education institutions to evaluate their teacher preparation programs to ensure future teachers have the skills and knowledge necessary to teach all students to read.