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Back to Aug. Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 223 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS AUGUST 2004

Singer with College Degree Laments
Her 3rd-Grade Reading Skills
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Actress, opera singer and former Miss Black Ohio Veronica Lewis sent an emotional letter to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in April describing how she graduated from college with only 3rd-grade reading skills.

Lewis, who has toured worldwide with productions of the Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess and now lives in New York, commended the mayor for demanding 3rd-grade reading tests and holding back pupils who fail them. "To read in person is almost impossible for me," she wrote. "I'm crying as I write these words."

Lewis went to school in Indianapolis. Reading was taught by rote in her elementary school. "You either got it or you didn't," she told the New York Post (4-29-04). "The majority of us didn't get it at the time." Nevertheless, she proceeded to a high school "voted the 12th best high school in America," which graduated her in 1976 with a severe reading deficiency. "They just kept passing me," she said. A's in math offset her D's in English.

At Marian College, a small liberal-arts school, Lewis's instructors did not become aware of her handicap until senior year. Intensive one-on-one instruction pulled her through. Still, she has "such a phobia of reading in public."

"Reading is the greatest thing in the world," she wrote to Mayor Bloomberg. "The ones who learned it at the right time in life will never understand the pain one has when one can't."

At least 10,000 of the 80,000 New York City 3rd-graders who took citywide reading math tests in April are expected to be held back next year under Mayor Bloomberg's controversial decision to end social promotion. The city will provide specially tailored summer school, intensive instruction for retained 3rd-graders in the fall, additional teacher training, and smaller 3rd-grade classes. (Education Week, 6-16-04)


 
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