Right now, Michigan is facing a literacy crisis. The MDE reported this week that around 55% of students entering the fourth grade are not reading at grade level.When I was a teacher in Detroit, I had seniors in high school that were reading at an elementary level, and I knew then we needed to make a change.
A lot of this comes down to our state not giving students the tools they need to succeed. When the recession hit, many librarians were laid off and school library programs terminated, and school libraries and librarians across our state still haven’t recovered. Today, only 43% of Michigan schools have a school library, and I believe this is an issue of access and equity at the highest level.
The solution is improving access to the resources students need to succeed and compete in an ever-changing global economy. With 55 percent of our students falling below grade level in reading, we need to act now to improve literacy access and educational outcomes across our state — and that starts with making sure kids have access to a library in every school along with excellent teachers, literacy coaches, and other critical resources.
While improving access to school libraries and certified librarians is just one piece of this puzzle, it’s a critical piece. because a strong foundation in literacy is the key to all types of academic success down the line.