We were pleased to share our story with Education Week.
The best thing about the article is that it reinforces something that we said in our open letter to teachers – and reiterated in our letter to the school board – but seems to have been missed by some readers: we have very high regard for T/E's teachers.
If anything, teachers deserve professional development on the science of reading that other districts across the country are working to provide so that they can help all students become successful readers. They also deserve a literacy curriculum that isn't the worst-reviewed in K–12. Our #1 goal is better support for teachers, in the form of more professional learning and better materials for them.
We would like to point out a few things about the national reaction to our story that make us feel like we are on the right track: The story was shared by respected education leaders, including John King, the former United States Education Secretary. Some reading specialists pointed out that our letter makes some of the same points as Susan Pimentel, the lead author of the Common Core Standards, when she wrote an editorial in EdWeek.
Lastly, we would ask readers of the EdWeek article to note that Stephen Sawchuk, the reporter who interviewed us for Education Week didn't challenge us on the validity of EdReports, when asking us how we discovered this trusted source of curriculum reviews. It seems to us that the education community sees EdReports as a trusted source, and district Chief Academic Officers recommend its use.
In fact, all of the national reactions to the article have convinced us that the evidence supports our concerns. We are bringing important, evidence-based recommendations and information to our community, and we ask our neighbors in the Tredyffrin-Eassttown community not to shoot the messengers.
We take no pleasure in sharing with our community that our students have the worst-reviewed curriculum in K–12. Once we discovered this information and inquired with district leaders about it – only to find that our district leaders had a blasé response – we felt it was important for both our parents and our teachers to know.
We would like to thank all of the parents in our community who value our work. We know that many parents are afraid to speak out with us publicly, fearing it will affect their kids. The private support has been great.
Some may not agree with our approach, and that's OK. Until someone has walked 18 months in our shoes, and learned all that we have learned about literacy research and the students in our district who are not learning to read to the best of their potential, it might be hard to understand our firm sense that things aren't right in T/E, and that we owe it to kids to speak out.
We promise not to be deterred by smear campaigns against us (of which literacy experts warned us) or district resistance to change (which we hoped we would not encounter). We promise to keep supporting the teachers, students and families who value the shift to evidence informed literacy instruction for all T/E students. And we promise to be transparent in all that we do.