Letter to the editor: Literacy law is an important 1st step

Published 7:59 am Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Inscribed on the cornerstone of the state capital, beneath the image of the mother pelican sacrificing herself for her young, are the words “We live for those we love.” Nothing better describes our spirit as a state, or especially our commitment to our children. It is in this spirit that I am proud to have had the bipartisan support of the vast majority of the state legislature in passing Act 422 this past legislative session, signed into law this week. The impact of Act 422 cannot be overstated, as it will ensure that all third graders are able to read before they are promoted.

Nearly half of our third graders struggle to read at grade level, a problem that has persisted for generations in Louisiana. Graduation rates, job opportunities and crime are all driven by literacy rates. Under the new law, starting the 2024-2025 school year, students who fail to meet the minimum score on three separate literacy assessments will repeat third grade with a variety of extra interventions, including 90-minutes of daily phonics instruction, a highly effective teacher, and smaller class sizes. This is a proven policy that has demonstrated significant improvements in our neighboring states of Mississippi and Florida.

Passing the law was only the first step. Success will depend on the implementation by the Department of Education and local school systems, as well as the continued support of the next administration and the Legislature. Finally, we need an awareness campaign to ensure that every student, parent, teacher and school are focused on meeting our literacy goals. We have laid the foundation, now we must work together to give those we love the most, our children, the tools they need to lift our state up.

 

Rep. Richard Nelson, R-Mandeville