Disruption is a call for radical change; it is this belief in “disrupting the educational status quo to increase childhood literacy rates to save more lives” that drives The Windward Institute. It is a lofty mission, but, when reports show only one third of students in the United States are reading at grade-level proficiency (NAEP, 2019), the stakes are simply too high to aim for anything less.
The field of education as we know it must be disrupted. Luckily, there is a clear path forward on how literacy rates can be improved at a large scale. Mississippi Literacy Director and 2021 Windward Fall Community Lecture speaker Kristen Wynn proved this by leading Mississippi to be the only state to demonstrate widespread gains in reading in 2019, according to The Nation’s Report Card. The secret: They followed the data from the Science of Reading. The research unequivocally advocating for the Science of Reading as beneficial for all learners is a recurring theme that Jamie Williamson, EdS; John J. Russell, EdD; and Danielle Scorrano discuss in this issue from various angles. When our leaders trust the science, restructure professional development, and focus on what is best for the students, progress follows.
But existing educational systems are not the only challenges that need to be addressed. Inequity exists and affects the most vulnerable learners—BIPOC students and children with language-based learning disabilities. In this issue, Resha Conroy underscores the research indicating how implicit bias disproportionately affects Black students with dyslexia and the resulting adverse outcomes. Annie Stutzman shares why understanding linguistic differences of children who speak two dialects, such as General American English and African American English, can ensure all students are being taught in supportive and productive environments. Stories like the journey of Shawn Anthony Robinson, PhD, to inspire others who are dyslexics of color like him are beacons of hope; lives can be transformed when students in need are taught how to read.
Within the pages of The Beacon Fall 2021, I anticipate you will be energized by the rich scholarship presented and the actionable steps laid before you. Disrupting the educational status quo is an ambitious goal, but we hope you will join The Windward Institute in this meaningful work.