Macomb Democrats Say No to Third-Grade Reading Bill

Controversial bill mandates retention if students don’t meet reading benchmar
Thursday, October 15, 2015

LANSING – Macomb County Democratic Representatives voted no today on House Bill 4822, which would mandate that students be retained in third grade if they do not read at a third-grade level. The legislators disagreed with the bill because of the mandatory retention without parental consent, and because the bill takes away local control and fails to provide enough resources to districts.

“Studies have shown that holding students back a grade doesn’t really help them like people think it will,” said Rep. John Chirkun (D-Roseville). “There are better ways to help a child be a better reader than by keeping them back and separating them from their friends in their own age group. We should have looked for better options and not just taken the most drastic option of retention.”

House Bill 4822 also requires schools to use certain assessment tools to measure a student’s reading proficiency.

 “Everyone wants to make sure that students are good readers, but cutting parents and local educators out of the decision to hold a child back a grade is wrong,” said Rep. Marilyn Lane (D-Fraser). “Local teachers and parents know best what works for their students. They deserved to be part of this decision, and the fact that they weren’t included made me a no vote.”

“This bill doesn’t consider the students who may be working hard and getting help, for whom it hasn’t quite clicked yet,” said Rep. Derek Miller (D-Warren). “Data has shown that retention could discourage students and make it even harder for them to succeed in school.”

“Parents must have a say in education decisions that affect their children, but this bill takes that away,” said Rep. Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores). “There are barriers that students face outside of school that impacts their ability to learn. Unless we address those as well, we will still fail to truly help these students.”

“We all want to help fix our educational system, but this third-grade reading bill is not the right step in that direction,” said Rep. Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights). “We need to do more to figure out why students are having a hard time with reading, we need to involve parents, and we need to give schools more resources to help these students. But this bill doesn’t do that, and that is why I voted no.”