News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2005


Loss of reading coaches will hurt city students

Principals at Decatur's three middle schools made solid recommendations when they pleaded for the central office to not cut reading coaches.

Reading is the essential ingredient of learning, of being successful, of having the ability to fully participate in and enjoy life.

If you can't read, you are handicapped. If you can't read well, you are still handicapped.

Imagine yourself stranded in Russia where the alphabet is Cyrillic and you cannot speak Russian, but even worse, you can't distinguish an A from a B.

And, of course, you have no interpreter.

You've had it.

That is the plain truth about people who cannot read. They've had it.

That's why Decatur was part of the pilot Alabama Reading Initiative that puts a premium on making sure children can read.

The principals this week called on Superintendent Sam Houston to reconsider his recommendation to cut three reading coaches as part of $2.5 million he says the school system needs to save to pay for other increases, some of which the Legislature mandated.

School board members went ahead and approved the cuts as part of the year-end school routine of hiring teachers for the coming year. Skeptics may see the cuts as a power play between the school board and City Council over the incremental $1.8 appropriation request, part of which Mr. Houston asked for to launch the International Baccalaureate program. But remember, the mayor and council strongly suggested that Mr. Houston make cuts as a way to educate students with the money in his budget.

Decatur schools historically have had an advocate in the mayor's office or on the City Council who made sure public education gets its share of city revenue. That voice is lacking in this administration.

People may second guess the superintendent for cutting a program that is at the core of education, but these are only a few of the cuts he says are to be made.

It's an ugly picture of our youngsters' futures.

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