“Today, after much deliberation, I decided to vote against House Bill 4822, the third-grade reading proficiency bill. After having worked on this for a long time, it was a difficult decision for me to make, but I ultimately felt the structure of retention, which Republicans would not comprise on, was too destructive to warrant a yes vote.

“I believe in the research that shows the damaging psychological effects of retention on children. I offered an amendment to this legislation to allow a student to forgo retention if parents and school officials agreed on an individual reading plan for them. This amendment would allow a child to understand that when they are working hard to improve their reading proficiency, and the adults are doing their part, then we are going to stand behind them. We are doing more harm than good when we tell a child who has been working hard to catch up with their classmates that their hard work is not good enough and they cannot move on. That is not something I will tell to a nine-year-old who has been playing by the rules.

“We are all in agreement that this Legislature needs to be taking educational reform seriously — there was a reason this bill was bipartisan in the first place. My Democratic colleagues and I are absolutely willing to revisit this issue when Republicans are ready to discuss fair, long term, multifaceted approaches to addressing the inadequacies and inequities in and out of the classroom, which may prevent a child from thriving academically.”