School Board, Please Make Literacy A Priority

Los Alamos

Open letter to Los Alamos Public Schools Board

The Los Alamos Public Schools have done a poor job of teaching literacy to my children.  I am moving away solely because this school district is unable to meet their learning needs.  If parents ask me about our local schools, I have to give negative feedback.  If a parent asks if moving to our town would be good for their student, I have to say no.

My family has tried for five years to get LAPS to implement scientifically proven literacy instruction.  This includes joining the LAPS Dyslexia Task Force and the Equity Council.  We have also been active in parent support groups.  While at times LAPS staff has indicated changes were coming, that has proven to be all talk and no action.

Again this year LAPS staff has indicated they are starting to make changes in literacy education.  Again the plan sounds great to me.  However, having seen several previous plans go nowhere, I have given up on LAPS making changes in time to help my own children.  To be fair, making the required changes will take years.  However, it is frustrating that LAPS is still at the beginning of this process, after several false starts.

I believe everyone at LAPS has good intentions.  Schools and teachers have too many demands placed upon them and not enough resources to accomplish those demands.  However, many of the teachers themselves were taught about literacy incorrectly and are resistant to change.  Many teachers are using methods that hurt kids, destroying mental health and setting them up for a lifetime of poor reading.

School board, you control the strategic plan and budget.  Please make literacy a priority.  Additionally, you have soft power in the areas you choose to focus on.  Request frequent updates about reading proficiency rates and structured literacy trainings.  Get comparisons of our students to the nation, not just to New Mexico.  When compared to the whole of the USA, our reading scores are unacceptably low.

Literacy education should be at the core of what schools do.  While there is hope that the LAPS administration will implement an excellent Literacy Plan, I personally am not counting on it. I have given up on LAPS, I have quit a job I enjoyed, I am selling a house I love, and am going to a place where the schools do literacy right.  However, you school board members have the ability to follow the LAPS literacy plan through the years it will take to come to fruition.  I hope you will have the determination to do so.