It was sad to hear the reading scores of the Detroit Public School students. But I got very excited when Financial Manager, Robert Bobb, announced that he was looking for local citizens to help Detroit students with their reading. The website stated that over 69% of 4th graders were below basic reading level and 77% were below basic reading level. I, being a lover of all books, and a tutor to several teenage kids quickly volunteered. However, I’m now quite disappointed in the program, and it hasn’t even begun.
Nowhere on their website to volunteer did the program say it was going to aimed to kindergarten aged children. So imagine my surprise when at training I learned that I would be partnered with not one, but two, four year olds. Each student would only be dedicated 30 minutes per week.
I completely understand their thinking, that if we start training the students early on how to read, that by the time they reach fourth grade, their test scores should be on par with the rest of the nation. The training materials told us we would be going over reading simple things like “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. We would also spend time working on the basics of letters. Trying to show them how certain letters are formed and the basics of phonics.
I commend the effort they are putting into the young children, but I wonder what’s going on with the older children that are already failing these reading tests? What special is going on for these children? Will they just get lost in the DPS system, as so many others have.
My other concern, was that I was not prepared to work with such young children. I can deal with tweens and teens, but honestly four year olds scare me. Not sure if I have the patience to deal with that age group. There is so much that they need to be taught it kind of scares me. I could have dealt with a teenagers stubbornness and laziness, but to think of potty breaks was not what I thought I signed up for.
There also hasn’t been much communication from DPS. I wasn’t able to attend the first rally and training session. They took over two weeks to inform us of the next training sessions, and gave barely 24 hours notice before the next one. The emails and phone calls also weren’t clear to people that did attend the sessions. Many showed up thinking it was going to be more training, not a repeat of the first one. They haven’t given us a potential start date of the program and asked us to pick our schools. But did not have a map or list of schools available.
I truly hope they are still working out the kinks, and that this program will be successful, whenever it starts. But please don’t forget about the children that are already behind. It is those that are currently behind and feel like they will never catch up that end up dropping out of school.