The Road to Success Travels Through 3rd Grade Reading

By Kathryn Hickok

Denisha Merriweather failed third grade twice. Today, she is finishing her master’s degree, thanks to Florida’s tax-credit-funded scholarship program. Denisha was President Trump’s guest at his Address to Congress Feb. 28, where he called educational choice “the civil rights issue of our time.”

The key to Denisha’s success was her godmother’s ability to remove Denisha from a school that was failing her, and to send her to the school that provided her with the support she needed.

Denisha says:

“Now that I’m in graduate school, I can look up statistics that suggest I’ve beaten the odds….[S]tudents who don’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times as likely to drop out of high school as those who do….

“That was me.”

According to the National Association of Education Progress, only 34% of Oregon fourth-graders tested “proficient” in reading in 2015. Oregon students should have the power of choice to find their own path to success, just like Denisha. The Oregon Legislature can help them do this with Senate Bill 437. SB 437 would give parents who want to opt out of a public school a portion of the per-student state funding for their child, to spend on education in other ways. No one disputes the need for improvements to public schools. But children who need help today should be able to get help now.

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Oregon program at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

  • Granola girl

    As a parent in the Tigard -Tualatin school district, I am all for the bill. My two kids have gotten a great education with the district, but i really don’t appreciate the leftist indoctrination that both received
    . If I would have had the money, I would have sent them to private school!!

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  • thevillageidiot

    just another demonstration of the failure of public education. Kathryn’s example is of a black student probably poor, probably growing up in a poor neighborhood, and attending a government run school taught by teachers who can’t get fired. I made a lot of assumptions from the article. I profiled and this makes me a racist. So what is the problem in Oregon. Oh yes, government run schools with teachers that can’t get fired. same problem as Florida. Race has nothing to do with it. alternatives not funded and run by the state cost far less with far better outcomes.

  • Myke

    As a STEM instructor, middle school math, if you can’t read, you can’t do the math. Reading IS the most important skill.