Op-ed: Students need the community as education system endures challenges

The state of Texas is facing a teacher shortage, making it difficult to reach and address the problems struggling students face daily.

Op-ed: Students need the community as education system endures challenges

Houston is still fighting the literacy crisis that plagues our youth. 73% of Houston's third graders are not reading at grade level, and 41% of Houston children are not ready for kindergarten. The state of Texas faces a teacher shortage that makes it hard to reach struggling students and help them.

Houston is not an exception. It's a well-known fact that American public school teachers quit the classroom in large numbers during and after pandemics. Only 800 teachers were hired by the Houston Independent Schools District for the school year 2022-2023, and another 800 positions are still open. Literacy Now, a leader in the local provision of early childhood reading programs, has also struggled to find qualified staff who can deliver our crucial reading intervention programs. The rapid growth of our company (134%) in the past two years, coupled with the general shortage of workers and teachers across the state has presented us with multiple challenges.

Literacy Now will continue to expand its Reading Intervention Program to reach more struggling students in Kinder-second grade. We have created The Literacy Lab as an innovative training program in order to reach the vast untapped talent pool in our city - degreed professionals without education degrees who have a heart for children, a passion for service and a desire make a positive difference in their community, but also a desire to become teachers. The opportunity to continue training and work in a supportive, part-time environment, while having a positive influence on the next generation is attractive to those who are looking for work-life balance.

After completing the Literacy Lab, participants will receive an offer for a part-time Reading Interventionist position at Literacy Now. The Reading Intervention Program partners with Title I Schools in HISD, Aldine ISD, and other districts to help K-2nd graders become proficient readers before the end of third grade.

In this school year, more than 1300 struggling readers will receive 25 weeks of small-group instruction (4:1) in an individualized setting. This program was designed to bridge the gap between a student's reading level and his or her actual grade level. The program provides students with hands-on learning that is tailored to their specific needs, including mastery of reading foundations and building relationships.

Who wants to be a part of the village which impacts our children's lives?