The achievement gap between low-income and minority students and the rest of the student body in Maine is wide, persistent, and worrisome, and I’d like to ask for the community’s help in addressing this very important problem. 

School professionals work hard to help all students achieve at the highest levels possible, but are unable to close the achievement gap alone – we need parents to help. At this time of the year, when so many of us make New Year’s resolutions, I’d like to suggest a community New Year’s intervention, intended to push all students to perform at a high academic level. 

Evidence shows that regular reading on the part of students is vital to academic success, yet teachers find that many children do not read regularly at home. Because reading is tied so closely to achievement, let’s make a resolution focused around reading – that we will make sure our children, whatever their ages, are reading at home at least 30 minutes every day. 

Parents have busy schedules, I know. Many work two and three jobs and still struggle to make ends meet. Yet nothing is as important as the future of our children. And until children form the habit of reading, they need adults to make sure they read consistently. So, let’s make a community resolution that even with our busy schedules, we will make sure our children read 30 minutes each day. 

If parents themselves can’t read with their children for some reason, please try to provide the structures needed for this to happen. You could ask your children’s teachers for support, or ask older siblings or other community members. Even the youngest children, who can’t yet read, should spend time with books every day – either being read to, or given picture books to look at. In this way, they will form a habit of reading and learn the culture of books.