Schools Confront Reading Challenge


Every kid confronts the mystery of the printed page. Some hit school thoroughly prepared.

Others face the struggle of their lives.

But educators know that a child’s success in school hinges in large measure on reading skills.

And yet often-struggling students simply sink without a sound once they hit school, sitting quietly in the back, half ashamed to reveal the symbols on the page remain strange as rock art.

So along comes a flush of federal stimulus money designed to keep schools afloat during the economic downturn.

Payson Unified School District leveraged its share — and has done some marvelous things, thanks to the creativity and energy of the teachers and administrators.

Very preliminary results suggest that after half a school year, the program may have reduced the number of elementary school students who can’t read adequately by roughly 20 percent.

Today’s Roundup reports on the heartening early signs of success for the federally funded program, based on statistics compiled from two elementary schools.

The district office gave each school a lot of freedom in providing targeted help to students at risk of falling behind — with sometimes striking results.

We applaud the district for empowering the teachers and administrators at the individual school sites.

Lots of educational research shows that reform and student-centered innovations take place in the classroom and on a campus led by an expert, enthusiastic, empowered principal. The administration of this program demonstrates a welcome faith in the teachers working directly with students.

Of course, we’ll have to wait and see whether these preliminary results prove reliable in the long term.

But in the short term, the program not only demonstrates the benefits of the federal stimulus spending — but also the rewards of innovation.

We certainly hope the district gets more federal help to continue the program — but if the federal funds dry up, we also hope that the administration and the school board take note of these results — and the benefits of harnessing the creativity and expertise at the school site level.

The lessons are profound.

We must first, pay attention.

Second, we must test the results.

Finally, we must be willing to change.

More teeth in speed trap

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Star Valley is adding two more speed cameras to its profitable little speed trap there along Highway 260.

Now, the two cameras already on duty flash about 100 times a day — and have brought in a cool million dollars in revenue, according to Mayor Bill Rappaport. And Rappaport has previously bragged on the big drop in accidents and speed through town.

Still, they’re adding two more cameras — one at Moonlight Drive and one at the Circle K.

They say it’s because they’ve had a couple of accidents at those locations — and that savvy drivers slow down for the cameras at the edge of town, then speed up again as they scoot along.

They say it’s got nothing to do with raking in some more cash from unwary motorists.

Well. OK. If you say so.

But then again, they also have been saying with a straight face that the current system is “revenue neutral,” even though it’s been keeping the town afloat for the last two years.

But heck — you’ve got to figure, most of the 100 unlucky folks a day who get flashed come from out of town. After all, the highway carries 10,000 cars a day through a town with a population of 3,500.

So while the rest of the state revolves against the telltale flash, Star Valley marches happily along to its own little drummer.

So just keep it in mind, next time you drive through ...

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