RG18.2 SMART is as SMART does

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.