Social promotion hinders learning

Gov. Martinez’ initiative to end the automatic social promotion of children from the third grade to the fourth grade is a good one.

Students should not be moved through school if they do not have the skills to do the work in the next grade.

When this happens, they are more likely to cause classroom disruption and become discouraged to the point of dropping out.

Proponents of social promotion claim that student retention harms self-esteem. They claim that students who are retained have an increased risk of dropping out or engaging in risky behavior.

I disagree.

This claim may be true when tutoring programs are lacking, yet these risks are present when a child is socially promoted, too.

The governor’s initiative provides remediation programs, so retention will actually help, not harm, struggling students.

Kids are in school to learn and third-graders must be able to read before moving to the fourth grade.

Parents must realize that they and their children need to work hard to attain academic success.

The state and local school districts have done a lot to improve the public education system over the years, but we can, and must, do more to make sure children can read. Otherwise, they will not learn other subjects.

Public Education Department Secretary-Designate Hanna Skandera said she wants to “ensure that the department provides real results and shows better returns on New Mexico’s taxpayers’ investment in education.”

Ending social promotion will help more children read and accomplish that goal.

I would also like to make two more points: This is not another unfunded mandate — school districts will be provided with funding to implement the program; and it is a flexible initiative, allowing each school district the discretion to manipulate the program as it feels is best for the district.

About half of New Mexico’s fourth-graders read below the basic reading level. The governor’s effort to help New Mexico reach its potential by educating its children is an initiative that is worthy of widespread, bipartisan support.

It is right for the children, and the future, of New Mexico. I stand in full support of making sure the children of New Mexico have the basic foundation of education … reading.

Please join me, and the governor, in supporting the end of social promotion.