LANSING — It’s possible Michigan students might have a state lawmaker reading to them in the classroom this month.
The leaders of the education committees in the Michigan Legislature are challenging their colleagues to each read to 1,000 Michigan students as a part of March is Reading Month.
Rep. Amanda Price, R-Park Township, and Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, issued the challenge to their colleagues last week. If each lawmaker reads to 1,000 children, the legislators would read to a total of 148,000 Michigan school children during March.
Price, the chairwoman of the House Education Committee, said it’s important for lawmakers to encourage children in their districts to read.
“It’s vital to begin building a strong learning foundation at a young age,” Price said in a statement. “Reading to children early in life and encouraging them to become active readers will help build that foundation and give students the tools they need to succeed in their educational endeavors.”
March is Reading Month is an annual push to emphasize reading in the nation’s schools.
The initiative comes as lawmakers consider Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed third grade reading initiative. The plan, presented to lawmakers during the unveil of his fiscal year 2016 budget last month, is a $48.6 million proposal — about $25 million of which is state money — to increase reading proficiency scores for third graders.
Third grade reading proficiency is a strong indicator of a student’s academic success in later years, numerous studies show. According to state documents, 30.5 percent of Michigan’s fourth graders read proficiently or better on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
About one in six children who don’t read proficiently by the end of third grade don’t graduate from high school on time. That rate is about four times higher than the rate of proficient readers who don’t graduate from high school on time.
Price called the challenge to lawmakers to read in front of students a “wonderful opportunity” to guide students toward proficient reading.
Pavlov agreed and said loving reading is “essential for a balanced and successful life.”
“It is a great joy to go into a classroom and read to kids,” Pavlov said. “I look forward to visiting schools again over the next several weeks and I urge my fellow lawmakers to take up the challenge as well.”