As educators, it is our duty to ensure every child becomes a proficient reader in order to ensure they preserve their future freedom.
The words of Frederick Douglass, "Once you learn to read you will be forever free", reminds educators of the monumental charge of preserving a literate society. Elementary teachers are often passionate and committed to the necessity of teaching a child to read. However as secondary teachers, often the art of teaching a student to read understandably takes a back seat to literary content and analysis.
Can we teach reading in a secondary setting?
Principals and other educational leaders must create a pathway for secondary English Language Arts teachers to have the opportunity to provide reading instruction to secondary students who still need foundational reading instruction, while simultaneously proving on level content instruction. This is no easy task in the scheme of a large comprehensive high school setting. So often the need to teach reading remediation in high school is overlooked, or at best is provided via pull-out or in a disconnected (from primary English) class. Ideally, the two would be provided in a connected manner meaning the students' on level English teacher is given the opportunity to also provide the remedial reading instruction. This model creates a connection between the content in English class and the reading support, which accelerates instruction while remediating basic reading skills.
How do we get there?
This literary-content-reading-remediation structure doesn't occur naturally in a traditional high school setting. Teachers who need time to teach reading must advocate for a schedule that allows time to reach struggling students, and principals must prioritized literacy in master schedules. Additionally, central administration must lead conversations that include exploring options for creative scheduling that includes additional blocks of time for reading instruction.
When school leaders, content teachers and central administrators have literacy as their focus, students would be less likely to be lost in a high school setting and continue to struggle with reading through adulthood. Educators, regardless of position held, are charged with providing every opportunity for every student to become strong, competent readers, i.e. ensuring their future freedom.