Viewpoint: Saltzman was instrumental in passage of landmark literacy bill at CapitolI want to congratulate our Sen. Kathy Saltzman for her work and authorship of a literacy bill she has championed for three years, which was signed into law earlier this year.
By: Rebecca Schmitt, Woodbury Bulletin
We have a hero in our midst. I want to congratulate our Sen. Kathy Saltzman for her work and authorship of a literacy bill she has championed for three years, which was signed into law earlier this year.
This law will require teacher colleges to teach scientific research, on reading instruction to student teachers. In turn, new teachers can then apply this knowledge to effectively teach reading to all students. It will also require a more thorough job of testing pre service teachers coming out of college; their knowledge of the structure of the English language and it’s five strands; showing their ability to teach reading.
You may say this should have long been a no brainer, but in the past teacher licensure tests included only ten questions, that evaluated reading instruction. Teachers coming out of college could fail all ten questions and still get their license to teach in a classroom full of beginning readers.
The National Council On Teacher Quality has identified this to be a problem across our nation, and this new law will help to bring our state’s standards up, and in line with the recommendations of the National Reading Panel’s sited research based evidence, showing what is needed for effective reading instruction.
Saltzman, DFL-Woodbury, worked with Sen. Gen Olson, R-Minnetrista, as a bipartisan team when asked by a group of concerned parents to look at a problem of teacher preparation in college. This deadicated parent group I became involved in is made up of mostly metro moms (a few dads too) with a mission to help Minnesota children read more profiently, were fondly coined, “Mom’s on a Mission!” with a web page at mnright2read.org with informational links.
Being hailed as one of the best new literacy laws in the nation, Saltzman and Olson have already received an award from the national “Reading First” program for their diligent work, along with three in our parent group, Susan Thomson, Bette Erickson and John Alexander.
Given time, this new law should give teachers the extra tools they need to help all students be better readers, save a great deal of taxpayer funds in new teacher development, cut down on delinquency and drop out rates, decrease crime, increase the number of students going to college, increase the economic strength of our state and lastly give students that struggle hope for the future. Something that we all need to succeed, even children.
Sen. Saltzman and Sen. Olson had their work cut out for them. But they looked into the problem and found a solution that other representatives had turned tail and ran from, too afraid to stand for what was right for children in the face of strong opposition from college interests, complacently comfortable with the status quo.
Before this experience I was a skeptic about our political process, but I have to say my faith has been restored to believe that there are those that care, and I have the highest regard for Sen. Saltzman’s integrity.
While watching events unfold at the Capitol, her savvy to get to the bottom of what is happening; her pioneering spirit and resolve to follow through to completion, fostered visions of the old movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” She knows who she works for; in this day and age that is sometimes very rare to find, humility and virtue combined with the “true grit” of a John Wayne!
We are extremely lucky to have such a person as our senator. I hope that if you are a parent or a concerned citizen who cares about the well being of our students and the quality of education and what that means for our future, you will send Kathy Saltzman a sincere thanks.
Rebecca Schmitt is a Woodbury resident and was involved with a citizens group that helped lobby for a literacy bill that was signed into law and sponsored by Sen. Kathy Saltzman, DFL-Woodbury, and Sen. Gen Olson, R-Minnetrista.