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RG18.2 SMART is as SMART does

April 29th, 2008 by dk

Every Thursday I read to kids for an hour at Harris Elementary School. It’s often the highlight of my week. Start Making A Reader Today (S.M.A.R.T.) is an Oregon original and it’s something to be proud of. The stated goal for the program is not to teach kids to read, but to teach them to love to read. As such, a volunteer need only bring his or her enthusiasm, because there is no tutoring involved. Likewise, there’s no fraternizing allowed either. Although we bond each year with the children we read to each week, the focus remains on the reading. I believe the most important part of the program that it brings regular people inside the school’s walls. Once our children are past school age, it’s not so easy to stay attuned to the needs and accomplishments of our local schools. SMART makes that easy to do. The program has announced it will be eliminating the paid coordinators sited at each school and try to replace them with a mix of volunteer help and technological solutions. I hope they succeed, but I wish they had made this shift in stages, reducing salaries by 50 percent the first year and then seeing what they could learn from that reduction before proceeding.

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  • 1 Jennymoose May 5, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I’ve been a SMART reader at Brattain in Springfield for the past 10 years. Your idea is excellent. It also seems absurd that the foundations funding SMART would want to cut back funding because the program is launched and successful…just another example of internal bureaucratic payoffs[how exciting is it to tell our trustees that we are continuing to fund SMART, rather than this “new exciting” program we’ll fund this year?] trumping real world objectives. I’d love to see you publish this column and start or lead a groundswelll to restore at least partial salaries to the coordinators…we’re totally penny wise and pound foolish, since each SMART success story is so much cheaper to fund[even with tax dollars for the coordinators] than each prisoner who ended up there because he or she couldn’t read well enough, dropped out of school and turned to drugs and crime with few other viable alternatives.