On children and reading, William Bennett shares “incredible literacy success” in Montgomery, Alabama

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Speaking to Fox News Digital this week in a telephone interview on American students and literacy, former Secretary of Education William Bennett threw no punches.

“Our nation is inundated with bad educational news,” he said.

“Although there is too much of it, I believe what may be worst is the significant learning loss leading to precipitous declines in third grade literacy,” he also said.

Bennett said that since serving as Secretary of Education during the Reagan administration, “I have been amazed at the consistent connection between third-grade literacy and any other conceivable measure of academic, social or economic success.”

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“If children don’t read in third grade,” he said, “their life chances are radically reduced.”

Bennett noted, “Any drop in key academic measures is bad news. The decline in literacy in third grade is catastrophic both nationally and individually. And as has always been the case, when schools fail, the groups most affected. are those already at the highest risk. “

Dr William Bennett told Fox News Digital that when it comes to the poor literacy statistics emerging across the nation, “he’d rather focus on something far more important. Success.”
(Fox News)

In addition to his job as Secretary of Education, Bennett also served as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George HW Bush. Bennett holds a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in political philosophy and a JD from Harvard Law School. He has been a consultant and consultant for many groups and organizations.

He said it “could talk for a long time about the horrible literacy statistics emerging from states, but it doesn’t have to be.”

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Instead he said, “I’d rather focus on something much more important. Success.”

Bennett referred to three significant numbers: 18, 48 and 62. “Respectively, those are the percentage of experienced second-grade readers for the 2018-2019, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years at the Brewbaker Primary School in Montgomery. , in Alabama “.

He said Brewbaker Primary School is known locally as “BPS Amazing School” – “as it is,” he said. “BPS’s student body is 100% eligible for free and reduced lunch. It’s a 98% minority population.”

“When we find an example that pops up not only for bucking the trend but also for blowing doors, we need to understand what is driving it.”

Bennett explained the scale of the school’s results: “In 2019 the comparable figure for Montgomery was 50% and for the state 35%. Brewbaker started far behind and on occasion COVID-19 has increased relative to where both the district and the state were. “

“We must not ignore the torrents of bad news and educational failures we are facing, or brush them with phrases like ‘delayed learning’,” said Bennett. “But more importantly, moving forward, when we find an example that pops up not just for bucking the trend but for blowing doors away, we need to understand what is driving it.”

Drawing on his philosophical background, Bennett said: “We demonstrate the possible from the real”.

William Bennett told Fox News Digital: “We must not accept that less advantaged children cannot improve” their reading and literacy skills.
(iStock)

“In other words, we must not accept that this collapse in third grade literacy has to happen or that it cannot be addressed, or that less advantaged children cannot improve.”

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Bennett shared with Fox News Digital that “to better understand what was driving” these hits in Montgomery, Alabama, he had a “wonderful conversation” with Brewbaker’s principal Jaclyn Brown Wright.

“Her enthusiasm and willpower for the success of these children is amazing, just like the name of her school.”

“I learned he believes two fundamental things drove this,” he said. “The first one surprises me no one: school culture. Brewbaker’s staff and their 600+ students live by their six core values, and they do it seriously.”

“They do what they have to do to reach every student,” he said. “And they never take a reason why it can’t be done for the final answer. Her enthusiasm and willpower for these children’s success is amazing, just like the name of her school.”

At Brewbaker Primary School in Montgomery, core values ​​include: “We work smart. We respect ourselves and others. We invite innovation.”
(iStock)

The school’s six core values ​​are: “We work smart. We respect ourselves and others. We invite innovation. We achieve our academic and behavioral goals. We help each other. We are great in every way!”

Bennett said they also discussed what Principal Wright believes is a second key aspect of Brewbaker’s incredible literacy success story.

He described the “smart guardian” named Amira, the first of its kind. “Unlike any other computer-based reading assistant, Amira is based on the science of reading,” she said. “She works by listening to the student read, then apply personalized interventions.”

“While doing so, Amira is collecting detailed teacher diagnostics, allowing teachers to save much of their day otherwise spent on routine diagnostic work,” he said.

“This allows teachers to focus on much higher value work than individual personal interventions.”

“This is an amazing success story in literacy – and it’s happening with the most difficult populations.”

Bennett said, “Principal Wright told me that students love working with Amira because while listening to them read, they get real-time feedback. And teachers love Amira because it allows them to focus on where they can make the most impact.”

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“The bottom line is this is an incredible success story in literacy – and it’s happening with the most difficult populations.”

William Bennett said there is “no time to waste” when it comes to addressing the literacy rates of young American schoolchildren.

Brewbaker isn’t alone in finding improvements with this approach, Bennett said.

“Hundreds of other schools and states” have experienced similar leaps in the advancement of literacy, he said.

“From deans to governors and all the leaders in between, we need to take examples like this, study them and expand them very quickly.”

“The costs of students not achieving literacy in third grade are well known.”

He added that he is a consultant to a small number of programs and organizations and that Amira is one of them.

He said, “I’ve been asked to join many advisory committees over the years. I’ve only joined a couple and joined this one for the excellence of its track record.”

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“The costs of students not achieving literacy in third grade are well known,” Bennett also said. “We are now seeing some proven approaches to solving it. There is simply no time to waste.”