Change in mix of students

can impact literacy rates

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

The failing literacy rates in Virginia and across this country would seem to be the result of a perfect storm. The diversity of America has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. The proportion of non-Hispanic white children has declined from 61% to 51% in the past 10 years. In contrast, and proportionately, children of Hispanic origin have increased from 17% to 25% in the same time period. Non-Hispanic blacks have stayed relatively static (14% to 15%). The significance of these facts brings to the forefront issues of language, culture and intellect, which can affect all learning. Often accompanying these statistics, but not exclusive to, is the ongoing decline of the family unit. Teaching a heterogenous group is vastly different and more difficult than teaching a homogenous group. As stated in a recent RTD news article, "The numbers of English-learning students in the state and those from low-income families have drastically increased in the past 10 years."

Educators and institutions of higher learning, for the most part, have not been able to keep pace. The other item that has not kept pace is teacher pay. Teachers should be rewarded for excellence in a merit-based program.

Paula R. Spraker,

Reading specialist.

Henrico.

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