4/26/23: KPS continues refuted reading program

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

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An investigative podcast alerts a Kalamazoo mother and librarian about a potentially harmful reading program taught within KPS. Also: Kalamazoo’s YWCA wants the county to help support abortion and gender affirming care. And Kalamazoo shuts down controversial rezoning plans.

NowKalamazoo Feature Story

Reading Recovery, or regression?

A group of children sitting on the floor reading books.

Five months ago, Susan O’Connor began writing to administrators at Kalamazoo Public Schools about an early elementary school literacy intervention program that has been all but discredited by recent research.

A librarian and data specialist with two elementary school kids at KPS herself, it was a point of inquiry both professional and personal. She spoke at Board of Education meetings and emailed links to studies, reports, news articles, and specialized podcasts all underscoring her main question: will the district keep using this program?

It is a particularly vital probe in Kalamazoo, as recent test scores show that 44.4% of KPS third graders are not proficient compared to the statewide average of 33.9%.

Reading Recovery is aimed at first graders with the lowest reading skills. It teaches those kids to memorize words and to make educated guesses as to what more difficult words are in a sentence, often with visual hints like pictures. It’s used within 14 KPS elementary schools.

“It’s actually harmful to kids. They end up doing worse. They might do OK for first grade but end up hitting the wall in 3rd grade,” said Mary Outinen, who spent seven of her 30 years in Parchment Public Schools teaching Reading Recovery. It has since been dropped there, like everywhere else in Kalamazoo County’s public school districts.

O’Connor pressed for answers from administrators and when their responses didn’t suffice, she turned to NowKalamazoo. Here’s what we found.

More News You Need To Know

YWCA asking county to support abortion and gender affirming care

YWCA Kalamazoo is asking the Kalamazoo County government for $100,000 to support its “comprehensive reproductive health fund.” The fund helps county residents pay for costs associated with getting an abortion and obtaining gender affirming care, along with doula services. That’s generating controversy among people who don’t want taxpayer money to be used to support either abortion or gender affirming care.

The YWCA’s fund is the first in the nation to offer this kind of support. Launched in 2021 with a grant from the county, the fund is now supported with private donations. It doesn’t directly fund either abortions or gender affirming care. Instead, the money goes toward related costs such as transportation and child care. About half of those helped by the fund are minorities and a majority of them are low income. Two county commissioners, Jeff Heppler and Wendy Mazer, have indicated they are against supporting the fund. But with a Democratic majority on the board, it is very possible it could be approved when it comes to a vote later this year. [Bridge Michigan]

No rezoning for controversial car wash project

Kalamazoo residents have been up in arms for weeks over a proposed project to build a car wash on the corner of Stadium Drive and Drake Road. That project is on hold for now after city officials decided to halt plans to rezone the land. The two parcels are owned by the company Drive and Shine, which operates three other car washes in the Kalamazoo area. The company wants the city of Kalamazoo to rezone the parcels on Stadium Drive to allow for the new car wash. The city announced on Tuesday that it has removed those two parcels from a rezoning process covering much of the area.

Residents are opposed to the project because of its proximity to the Asylum Lake Preserve. The parcels are currently zoned for residential use and designated as a Natural Feature Protection property. The now-abandoned rezoning proposal would have changed them to commercial properties, allowing the car wash project to move forward. Residents complained at recent public forums that a car wash would threaten the adjacent preserve and the plants and animals that live on it. [WWMT]

First peregrine falcon egg of 2023 has hatched

You know it’s spring when the peregrine falcons return to downtown Kalamazoo. For more than a decade, the two birds known as Rebecca and Kewpee have nested on the edge of the Fifth Third Building on East Michigan Avenue each spring. Rebecca lays her eggs while a live nest cam streams the birds’ activities online. There are four eggs this year, and on Tuesday morning the first of them hatched.

“It’s kind of nice to know we have had a decade of successful hatchings,” Audubon Society of Kalamazoo falcon liaison Gail Walter told MLive. The birds nested on the 15th floor ledge before 2014, but were unable to hatch chicks until volunteers built a nesting box to keep the eggs safe. The eggs usually hatch in April or May, then residents watch as the chicks grow, learn to fly, and eventually leave the nest. [MLive]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

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Kalamazoo Academy Of Rock – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
5:30PM 4/26

Board Game Night – Main Street Pub, West Main
6:00PM 4/26

Yum’s the Word! – Chocolate Explorations – Parchment Community Library
6:30PM 4/26

Growing Wildflowers from Seed – Kalamazoo Area Wild Ones
7:00PM 4/26

Barrelhouse acoustic blues – O’Duffy’s Pub
7:00PM 4/26

3 of a Kind – Hilton Garden Inn
7:00PM 4/26

City of Champions: A History of Triumph and Defeat in Detroit – Richland Community Library
7:00PM 4/26

Karaoke – Shakespeare’s Pub
8:30PM 4/26

Bits Of Business Mini-Expo – Portage Zhang Senior Center
9:00AM 4/27

Upgrade Your Lunchable for Teens – Kalamazoo Public Library, Oshtemo
4:00PM 4/27

Open Mic Night – this is a bookstore | Bookbug
5:00PM 4/27

Canuck Club – Final Gravity Brewing Co.
7:00PM 4/27

Chicken & Biscuits – Farmers Alley Theatre
7:30pm 4/27-29, 5/4-6; 2pm 4/30, 5/7

Kate Pillsbury and Eric O’Daly – The Clover Room
7:30PM 4/27

Over The Rhine – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 4/27

Music with Steve Kamerling – Brick + Brine
6:00PM 4/28

Artists Meeting Artists – Portage Parks & Recreation Building
6:00PM 4/28

Grace Theisen – The Distant Whistle Brewhouse
6:00PM 4/28

Barrelhouse acoustic blues – ThunderBird
6:00PM 4/28

Nate Bargatze: The Be Funny Tour – Kalamazoo State Theatre
7pm & 9:30pm 4/28

Eat Drink Give 2023 – Gryphon Place
7:00PM 4/28

Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical JV – Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
7:30pm 4/28; 1pm 4/29; 4pm 4/29; 2pm 4/30; 10am 4/26-27

Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center – Fontana
7:30PM 4/28

Minor Element w/ Cam The Cryptid – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 4/28

Sketch Show: Miss Communication – Dormouse Theatre
8:00PM 4/28

Old Hank’s Son – Nob Hill Bar and Grill
8pm 4/28-29

The Incantations & The Mickeys – The Clover Room
8:00PM 4/28

Good Stand Up Comedy with Dan Alten & friends – Presidential Brewing Co.
8:00PM 4/28

See more upcoming events here.

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