By Sen. Peter MacGregor, 28th Senate District
Is your student struggling with reading? If so, they’re not alone. More than 30 percent of Michigan third-grade students are not proficient in English. Over half are either not proficient or only partially proficient. This is a huge issue because early reading problems can snowball into more serious challenges later on in a student’s academic career and even beyond into the job market.
We are very fortunate in the 28th Senate District to have high performing schools with strong reading programs and dedicated teachers, but other areas of the state are struggling with results and positive outcomes.
The Michigan Legislature has worked hard on this problem by enacting laws to improve early detection of reading issues and to fund extra help for students in need, including our third grade reading law and Individual Reading Improvement Plan programs. We have also set aside almost $27 million in the School Aid budget specifically to fund tutoring, teacher training and literacy coaches. We’ve required schools that have widespread issues to use specific amounts of their at-risk funding to address the problem as well.
When I was first elected to the Michigan House and was asked to come read to a classroom during March is Reading Month, my sons, who were all in middle and high school at the time, were concerned that I would choose a book that was boring to read to the younger students. So I asked them to help me find one that was “cool.” Together we chose Bobby Bramble Loses His Brain.
The main character, Bobby, is an energetic jokester who, like most boys, loves to push the limits of safety. He has a comical accident, of course, and loses his brain — which then sprouts legs and runs away. In the end Bobby is reunited with his brain and he learns an important lesson about the need for intelligence and the benefit of safety equipment.
I’ve read this book to countless classrooms over the years and the students all enjoy it. It isn’t a challenging read, but it’s an engaging and fun book that shows the children that reading can be fun.
While we are working on solutions in the public sector, we shouldn’t forget that as parents we are our children’s main source of learning. When parents don’t make time to read with their kids, they not only miss out on a tremendous teaching opportunity, but also on a rewarding bonding opportunity as well.
I encourage you to take a moment this March to think about how you as a parent are helping your children learn. If you want to instill a love of reading in your children, try instilling a love of reading with your children.
If you’d like to do some more reading on the subject of parent engagement, visit www.michigan.gov/mde. If you have an education policy concern that I can help with, please contact my staff at SenPMacGregor@senate.michigan.gov. You can also receive my regular newsletter by signing up at