Ex-Wayland principal blasts state’s new law on 3rd-grade reading

Former Pine Street Elementary 21257873-mmmainPrincipal David Britten, now superintendent at Wyoming Godfrey Lee Schools, has written an opinion strongly opposing Michigan’s new law on retaining third-graders who cannot meet reading requirements.

Britten, who plans to retire at the end of the current academic year and until recently a life-long Republican, was very critical of GOP Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-dominated State Legislature. Snyder signed the bill in law just last week.

His objections essentially were that the new law prescribes penalties for children struggling with reading proficiency, but does not offer viable solutions to the problem.

Britten penned, “The bill contains no substantial provisions for actually raising student reading levels by the end of the third grade, just whips and chains for students who have not yet progressed to this level, many of which are still learningdavid-britten2 English, have dyslexia, are special needs students, live in impoverished homes and communities, or just haven’t developed their reading retention and comprehension abilities, yet.

“So the smug actors in Lansing, including the Ottawa County representative who led the charge on this bill, actually believe they’ve done something. At the same time, they continue funding classrooms well below the level of adequacy and are doing absolutely nothing on this issue of funding equity.”

Britten has said on Facebook that he almost always voted Republican, but in recent years has withdrawn his support because of the GOP’s policy of favoring private and charter schools, but starving public schools at the same time.

Turning his commentary to voters in Michigan, he added, “But most of you will keep voting these losers in to office because it’s easier for you than understanding the problem, and you’ll keep a few more dollars in your pockets for lottery tickets and craft beer every weekend. Besides, they’re someone else’s kids so let them worry about ’em. “Not my problem. What a country!”

PHOTO: Gov. Rick Snyder signs the new law on third-graders’ reading proficiency, in a ceremony in Lansing witnessed by elementary children from Otsego. At right is 80th District State Rep. Mary Whiteford, who represents almost all of Allegan County.

David Britten


  • So Lee Public Schools are the “shining light” of third grade reading and comprehension? Mr. Britten, do you have the answers to your questions/assertions you place upon those who’ve received your scorn?

    As you state; “many of which are still learning English, have dyslexia, are special needs students, live in impoverished homes and communities, or just haven’t developed their reading retention and comprehension abilities, yet. So what you are saying is you have many illegal or legal immigrants not speaking or comprehending English, have undiagnosed dyslexia, are special needs students, and live in impoverished homes and communities in your district. Are you the only district in Michigan with such a student population?

    Maybe it is a good time to retire, since you’ve told the voting public they are uncaring, selfish cretins because they see students from public schools not being able to read or write English. Evidently, your attitude is it is all the public’s fault, because they don’t put pressure on the politicians in power and they keep voting these people back in power.

    I’m just a stupid cretin you speak of and from a generation that had “Dick, Jane, and Spot” books and was taught through phonics. Yeah, we actually read books; you know, those archaic heavy things where you had to actually carry back and forth from school, open up, and turn the pages. If you couldn’t make the grade in school, you were given individual instruction through a tutor system. If you still couldn’t read or comprehend, it could be decided you were to repeat the grade. Yeah, back then in the “stone age” you actually had people repeating a grade. Have you ever heard of such a thing, Mr. Britten?

    How many of the kids your school (and many other schools) keep advancing to the next grade, even though they can read or comprehend, either quit, don’t graduate and either get menial jobs or fall into the welfare trap, from which few get out of?

  • Mr. Britten you are my Champion, I was one of those 3rd graders in the early 1940s
    and it is hard to live with the inferiority complex.
    I hope to see you at football games Thursday and Friday nights.
    Sincerely, Your friend in Hopkins.

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