I have witnessed the “tragedies” that John Hubbuch talks about [Speaking of tragedies … Viewpoints, Sept. 14] as a volunteer at both OPRF High School and at Irving Elementary School.

My take on the problem is different from John’s. First, there is a school about two miles from Oak Park that only takes those children who are well behind in school. They take them into their middle school, and their reading level is about third grade. In three years when they graduate, their average reading level is at freshman level. Their math scores also are above eighth-grade level.

The magic formula is almost two hours of reading a day and 90 minutes of math. Their school day is longer and so is their school year. If Oak Park provided such a system for those children who are well behind starting school, don’t you think most of the discipline problems in middle and high school would disappear?

I have taken previous superintendents from both District 97 and District 200 to visit the school and they were amazed. We all know that if a child cannot read with comprehension, they will not succeed in school. These Austin children have substantially less resources than their counterparts in Oak Park, and they were further behind to start. Isn’t it time to consider following a successful program? I would be delighted to take anyone to this school for a visit.

Strange that Oak Park prides itself on diversity and uniqueness, and their education when I was at Hawthorne [now Julian Middle School] 65 years ago was the best. With some backbone and a willingness to go against the grain, it can be again.

An aside: Irving School opens up 30 minutes early six months of the school year, and a number of volunteers and teachers read with those children who are struggling. The results have been good — not great, but good. Think how many children we could save with an extra hour of reading.

Don’t take my word; check with experts.

Jack Flynn
River Forest

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