Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Letters to the Editor: Ruane Internship

RE: Lang Interns Teach Kids to Love Books, Issue 14, April 17, 2007

Dear Inprint,

A reading studies program used by Lang’s Ruane interns is more accepting and tailored to individual learning than a program offered by No Child Left Behind, according to Aaron Jenkins, a student coordinator.

The Ruane Internship sends students to work in some of New York City’s public schools. The key program is to get Lang students to help out at schools that use Accelerated Reader, a computer-based reading comprehension program. The interns assist in implementing the program and make it more effective while earning academic credit.

Jenkins said the program is, “a really meaningful work experience. With out the hands on practice you don’t really know what its like.”

He added, “In school you can come up with ideas and solutions to make things better, but when you really get down on the ground you see that a lot of students in the classrooms go out the window.”

President George W. Bush passed No Child Left Behind in January of 2002, to “reduce the achievement gap” between “poor” and “rich” public schools in the United States. “It doesn’t have to be this way,” Bush said, as the bill was passed.

One of the proficiency reforms set up by the No Child Left Behind act is the Reading First program. Reading First only allows certain books to be taught in the classroom. Schools will buy these commercial products made by huge publishing companies that were written by the same panel that selected them to be used in the classroom.

Therefore, not only are these panelists recommending their own books for the classroom, but also the readers they produce are incredibly explicit. They manufacture readers that have pre-described lesson plans and scripted reading materials for the whole class to use.

“If you have a block for literacy, you can teach only Reading First textbooks during that time, which is terrible for the kids because not everyone is on the same level and it leaves no room for creativity,” Jenkins said. “With Accelerated Reader, you can use any book and work one-on-one with students at any time during the day.”

“There is no group tracking system, wherever you are at we will meet you there. Weather you are reading on a first or second grade level, wherever you are we will meet you there and work up,” he added.

So far the program has been effective. The interns say they have seen a lot of growth, not only in the charts on the computer that test phonetic and comprehension levels, but also in the student’s desire and enthusiasm to grasp and appreciate the literature that they are reading.

The importance and love of education does not come from receiving a high test score, interns said. In this way, children are taught to love books, not just decode them.

- Gabrielle Steinhardt

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