Sep 11, 2022
On literacy, Ryan Walters, tweets from the White House

Investing in libraries is key for literacy growth

The way to achieve Drew Dugan’s goal of making up for lost time in literacy growth and even help students get ahead is straight-forward: Invest more time and (a few) more dollars in school libraries, in book collections, and in staffing. Fill the school libraries with books that students really want to read, and hire credentialed school libraries to help match children with books that are right for them.

We know from the last two decades of research that reading, especially reading books that readers select themselves, leads to better language and literacy development, including improved writing, spelling, vocabulary and grammar. The last two decades of research also has informed us that those who read more also know more, and they know more about several different areas, including social studies and science.

The key is the creation of a collection of genuinely interesting books, and allowing children to select their own reading choices. We can make the process even more effective by encouraging children to serve on committees that help select books for the school library and participate in library design. Micki Uppena and Matt Renwick, of the Mineral Point Elementary school in Wisconsin, with the help of the Bring Me a Book organization, are engaged in such a project now, with encouraging results.

— Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

I’m tired of hearing Ryan Walters’ accusations against public educators

Quite frankly I’m very very tired of hearing Ryan Walters accuse our public educators of some sort of “woke” liberal agenda. He states over and over as state superintendent he would not allow teachers in the classroom with a liberal agenda to brainwash our children. Well, I don’t think we should allow the conservative Christian nationalists with an agenda to use public tax dollars to pay for vouchers for private secular OR private religious schools to govern in our state. I attended a private parochial school through the 6th grade, I got a good education, very small class sizes, committed teachers, but I also was indoctrinated into the religious beliefs of the denomination that operated the elementary school. Public education dollars are for the great diverse public without regard to personal religious beliefs. Why should the state pay for that? The reason Oklahoma is 47th in education in the country isn’t because we don’t have a free for all voucher system or because our public school educators are teaching a radical socialist agenda, it’s because our state does not make a long-term commitment to public education. Oh, occasionally we see the Legislature throw a few dollars at our teacher salaries or enact a law to limit class sizes, but year after year there is no real commitment, no plan. Rather, we find our Legislature offering up laws on guns or school bathrooms or subsidies for oil and gas. It’s my belief our public educators, administrators and staff are dedicated to giving our children the best education they can, and all of us in this state should be grateful for that.

— Penny Barber, Edmond

Walters’ statements regarding Norman teacher are unacceptable

In light of recent events leading to the false statement and egregious request made by appointed Secretary of Education Ryan Walters, the Oklahoma State Board of Education should revoke his teaching certificate and the Oklahoma Republican Party denounce his candidacy for state superintendent. There is no place for an educator with ANY political agenda in the halls of the state Department of Education. Mr. Walters’ statement regarding the former Norman teacher Summer Boismier is unacceptable, and we must ensure that he doesn’t slander a single additional hard-working teacher in this state. This action must be dealt with swiftly and with respect to all our kids, parents and educators.

Educators are one of our state’s greatest assets, and it’s unfortunate that Mr. Walters’ comments have caused one of them such harm and discouragement for the entire profession, especially when we are facing a crisis-level teacher shortage. This type of behavior will not be tolerated in Oklahoma, and I speak on behalf of parents, students and teachers across the state who are demanding swift and immediate action.

— Jennifer Ingram, Oklahoma City

White House using Twitter to discredit opponents a new low

As The Oklahoman reported on its front page on Aug. 27, the White House Twitter page began targeting political opponents of its student loan forgiveness plan by unrolling a social media campaign against Republican members of Congress. Two of the critics of President Biden’s loan forgiveness plan, Oklahoma Congressmen Kevin Hern and Markwayne Mullin, reportedly had interests in private businesses which had received government Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans that were handed out to save jobs in Oklahoma in response to the COVID -19 pandemic and subsequent forced business closures.

The White House using social media and taxpayer information to discredit political opponents is a new low for a US president — and that’s no small feat given the previous administration’s antics. Rather than holding a much-needed debate on the merits of the student loan forgiveness plan, a plan which saw the editorial boards of both the liberal Washington Post and conservative Wall Street Journal come out against, as well as heated ongoing debate in The New York Times, Executive Branch policymakers instead lashed out in ad hominem attacks against its political dissidents.

No one should be in fear of targeted political retaliation by the world’s most powerful individual, the US president, simply because they hold a differing viewpoint — no matter their respective political persuasion.”

— Bradley K. Farris, Goldsby

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Letters: On literacy, Ryan Walters, tweets from the White House

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