Wednesday, October 30, 2002


When standardized test scores were released recently by the Omaha Public Schools, Ann Mactier’s eyes went right to the number listed for Central Park Academy, a school in one of the most impoverished parts of town.

Eureka! The same children who last year scored in the 39th percentile nationwide had zoomed up to the 56th percentile.

What made the difference? Not millions of extra dollars, as OPS is asking for from voters in Tuesday’s tax-lid override.

The answer was the method: systematic, intensive, explicit phonics instruction. It’s cheaper than what most public schools are doing now in the way of teaching reading, and, especially for disadvantaged children, it’s much, much better.

Mrs. Mactier, a former OPS board member and current member of the Nebraska State Board of Education, had privately donated the funds to get teachers trained in Spalding Phonics at Central Park and another inner-city school, Kellom.

At Kellom, test scores did not show such a marked improvement, but its student population is much more transient, with a high percentage of children who don’t speak English. Even so, Mrs. Mactier reports, Principal Jo Kubik says the Spalding method is working well.

Just another reason not to feel guilty about voting “NO” to the OPS override. Those cute inner-city kids don’t need more millions. THEY NEED PHONICS!

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