If the situation were not so serious, it would be laughable. How can we improve reading achievement if we make it more difficult to put books in the hands of our children?
Our schools work diligently to teach reading skills, but we actually undermine teachers’ efforts and students’ progress by drastically cutting the purchase of new school library books and by eliminating many school librarians. It stands to reason that once you learn a skill you must practice to master it. If we insist that we must exert effort to ensure reading achievement, it does not make good sense to reduce the number of books and librarians in our schools!
We must also provide access to e-books in our libraries and ensure that we have librarians on staff to help students become familiar with the technology that is already a part of our world.
Data gathered by the National Center for Education Statistics’ Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) from the 50 states and the District of Columbia reveal that as time passes Indiana sinks lower in state rankings when it comes to financing and stocking its K-12 school libraries.
The Young Hoosier Book Award program is the main statewide program that emphasizes reading new books. Each year 20 books are selected at the primary, intermediate and middle grades levels. Children are required to read at least five of those books and vote for their favorite. Participation has declined because schools are not purchasing the needed books. If the books are not available, then how can students read them?
Renewing school library book collections is not as glamorous as providing new electronic devices, but our achievement scores will go up if the state makes the commitment to ensure that our children are not only taught reading skills but also have school libraries with all the useful and attractive books needed for reading practice. When it comes down to it, we can’t expect higher reading achievement without providing the books for reading practice, can we?
— Amanda Cleary, president
Indiana State Reading Association
FLASHPOINT: Heading in the wrong direction
A study released last week by the Tax Foundation reported Indiana taxpayers saw one of the sharpest increases in tax burden since 2001. Dig deeper and the numbers are more alarming.
FLASHPOINT: Time to fix government
In 1965, the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Wilbur Mills, brought legislation establishing Medicare and Medicaid to the floor of the U.S. House. That was my first year in Congress, and I remember vividly the moment when Mills came to the Democratic caucus to explain his plans.
Flashpoint: How to deal with a public-employee union
An open letter to Indiana city councils: The problem: A public-employee union has no check, no market mechanism, to temper its power. The solution: You, the councilman.
FLASHPOINT: Justice system needs both sides represented in court
Several same-sex couples recently filed lawsuits seeking to strike down Indiana’s traditional marriage definition law.
FLASHPOINT: Fixing a Congress hung up on outdated practices
These are hard times for Congress. Its approval ratings have seen a bump from their historic lows of a few months ago, but it’s a small one.
FLASHPOINT: Indiana deserves better than what recent session provided
The ageless wit Oscar Wilde once observed, “The salesman knows nothing of what he is selling save that he is charging a great deal too much for it.”
FLASHPOINT: House Republicans achieve legislative priorities
When the General Assembly began its work last November, as Speaker I pledged a session driven by five main issues: increased road funding, enhanced job training, early childhood education, fair business taxation and cutting government red tape.
FLASHPOINT: Energy bill a no-brainer target for Pence’s veto pen
Indiana has, for many years, wrestled with the question of what policy, if any, to pursue to advance new, alternative visions of how we deal with waste, move around and grow our food. Fortunately, we’ve seen some tangible signs of progress in the Indiana General Assembly with respect to recycling, mass transit and local food systems.
FLASHPOINT: Where Congress falls short, and where it doesn’t
At a public gathering the other day, someone asked me how I’d sum up my views on Congress. It was a good question because it forced me to step back from worrying about the current politics of Capitol Hill and take a longer view.
Flashpoint: President should stop Medicare Advantage cuts
Virtually all elected officials — Republicans and Democrats — share the goal of increasing access to affordable health insurance and helping families receive the best coverage to meet their specific needs.
FLASHPOINT: Restoring trust, respect in schools rests in fundamentals
A recent Harris poll of 2,250 adults reveals a troubling educational trend.
Flashpoint: Everyone would benefit from responsibly expanding health coverage for Hoosiers
A medical epidemic is one of the worst scenarios a hospital can face — when a significant portion of the population is suddenly struck with a life-threatening illness.
FLASHPOINT: Now imperiled, Indiana’s leadership helped launch biodiesel success story
There’s been a lot of talk about ethanol lately, and the policy — known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS — that introduced renewables into our nation’s fuels mix.
FLASHPOINT: Local control over the business personal property tax good option
I have a tremendous respect for Indiana’s local leaders.
FLASHPOINT: Did legislators place bad bet on Common Core?
A comedian once observed that the reason they call it “horse sense” is because horses don’t bet on people.
FLASHPOINT: Manufactured statistics, exaggerated claims make meth battle more difficult
Indiana has many societal problems. One of the most serious is the use of methamphetamine. Meth destroys families, ruins lives and costs taxpayers millions of dollars in law enforcement and meth cleanup efforts.
FLASHPOINT: Study dissects tough tax issues on business equipment, machinery
Indiana’s Legislature first got serious about eliminating personal property taxes in 1966, when Hoosiers approved a constitutional amendment separating taxes on property and personal property.
FLASHPOINT: Hold all the congrats for this U.S. Congress
Now that Congress has its immense, $1.1 trillion bipartisan funding bill in hand, Capitol Hill is breathing easier. They ended the specter of a government shutdown for the moment and funded the federal budget for most of the year. The media has been commending Congress for finally doing its job.
FLASHPOINT: State has obligation to crack down on youth sexual assault
Children have the right to be safe. Yet in Indiana, girls are more likely to be sexually assaulted than almost anywhere else in the country.
FLASHPOINT: Economic prosperity means strong businesses and vibrant communities
Whether you are talking about college graduates looking for a first job, older citizens who are deciding where they want to live as they age, or new parents deciding on the right place to raise a family, future Hoosiers can afford to be picky.
FLASHPOINT: Marriage ban contrary to U.S. law and Christian faith
Central Christian Church has been part of the Terre Haute community since 1841 and an Open and Affirming congregation since 2006.
FLASHPOINT: Different day — same story
Heading into the 2014 legislative session, the argument again is being made — in a tired and worn way — that Indiana’s laws controlling the sales of alcohol are outmoded, inconvenient and circumspect.
FLASHPOINT: What are government’s essential functions?
Here are some questions regarding the distressed reaction by some in local government to Gov. Pence’s stated intent to eliminate business personal property taxes.
FLASHPOINT: No need to expand access to alcohol in Indiana
I am a homegrown Hoosier businessman. The state of Indiana has granted me the privilege, and the responsibility, of selling alcohol.
FLASHPOINT: America’s major policy shift on Iran
In a recent address to the nation, President Barack Obama acknowledged Iran “has been unwilling to meet its obligations to the international community.” In the same speech the president vowed to “prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
FLASHPOINT: Dealing with hunger requires less rhetoric, more action
In November, millions of families in Indiana and across the nation saw their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits cut through a planned phase-out of a temporary increase in funding that originally took place during the 2009 recession.
FLASHPOINT: Getting right with history
I am ornery enough to never much worry about whether I am on the “right” side of history.
FLASHPOINT: Dogged journalism is a blessing, not a curse
Let’s start with the obvious: A democracy needs intelligence agencies. It needs to know what’s happening in the world — and understand the plans of allies and enemies — to keep the nation prepared and secure.
FLASHPOINT: Same-sex marriage battle not good for state’s future
For those who can still bear to look, Indiana’s unemployment rate remains stuck above 8 percent.
FLASHPOINT: A pledge to work together with respect, civility
Indiana’s students and schools have made great progress in recent years. According to the latest scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Indiana is improving at the second-fastest rate of any state in the country. We owe this progress to the hard work of our students, teachers and the parents and school reformers everywhere who have insisted that we hold ourselves to high standards.
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- FLASHPOINT: Heading in the wrong direction