Public speaks out about Voyager

By: Laurie Ott Email
By: Laurie Ott Email

April 30, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Richmond County's reading program was under fire tonight. The school board heard publicly for the first time from opponents of the Voyager Universal Literacy program.

Those opponents were mostly teachers who said they were glad for the chance to speak out at last.

Dr. Virginia Bradshaw, superintendent of instruction, stands by Voyager.

"It gets harder and harder to tell the difference between advantaged schools and disadvantaged schools," she said.

And Gracewood principal Mary Braswell again got up in support of the program.

"Voyager listens to the teachers and values input," she said. "In fact, they make changes based on teacher input."

But then board members started asking questions. The first, Frank Dolan, asked about how Voyager came to Richmond County in the first place.

"This was brought to us by Linda Schrenko and Merle Temple and Dr. Larke...and two of out of three of them are in jail tonight," he said.

And then three kindergarten teachers from Warren Road Elementary spoke.

"Voyager is taught at Warren Road and we strongly supplement it because of huge deficits in specific areas," Sonya Graham said. "If we want to teach Voyager exclusively, we'd be doing a terrible disservice to our children."

"It really saddens me to see so many wonderful, qualified teachers leave this county--not because of students, not because of pay, which is less than other counties, but because of Voyager," Leesa Lyles said.

"While the positives are minimal, the negatives are plentiful," Laura Mobley said.

Finally, teachers spoke about why other teachers are afraid to speak against it.

"Teachers are afraid and scared to speak up," said Paige McLemore, who teaches at Rollins Elementary. "You would not believe what comments we got at school today, what was going to happen to us for coming down here."

Tonight's meeting was just for informational purposes only. Board members did not make any decisions on Voyager.

More:

April 28, 2006: Special Assignment: The Price of Education

April 28, 2006: Is Voyager Learning System failing Richmond County students?

May 2, 2006: Voyager's response to News 12's Special Assignment: The Price of Education

December 13, 2006: Voyager declines to be interviewed

December 13, 2006: Richmond County Board of Education’s Position on Voyager Universal Literacy Program

December 14, 2006: Voyager: Linda Schrenko's Legacy of Literacy

April 19, 2007: Voyager learning program to be evaluated

April 23, 2007: Teachers, administrators evaluate Voyager

For News 12's complete coverage of the Linda Schrenko spending scandal, click here.

Laurie Ott has opened a blog topic for further discussion. To join in, click here.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Dianna Location: Augusta on May 3, 2007 at 04:01 PM
    The teachers from Warren Road and other schools expressed exactly how dedicated teachers feel about Voyager at the Board Meeting. I am glad that teachers can now speak out without fear of retribution. Thank you channel 12 for keeping everyone abreast of this situation.
  • by Jim Location: Augusta on May 1, 2007 at 02:16 PM
    If you research the Internet you will find some very interesting information. Richmond County is far from the only school system where there is discontent with this program. Many in NYC, Texas, etc have also questioned it's value. Another "interesting" aspect of this is the political connections between the Dallas, Texas developers of the program and the White House. Apparently a lot of money (as in millions) has changed hands along the way. The whole situation certainly doesn't pass the 'smell test'. Personally I think the key to a child learning to read comes from the home. You can't expect any teacher, no matter how dedicated they are, to overcome inadequate preparation/encouragement from home.
  • by CONCERNED Location: THOMSON on May 1, 2007 at 09:59 AM
    I WAS VERY IMPRESSED LAST NIGHT AFTER SEEING dR. dOBSON AND HIS WIFE SPEAKING ON T.V.. IF PEOPLE WOULD START FOCUSING ON PRAYER AND GOD WITH THEIR CHILDREN INSTEAD OF VOILENCE AND NEGATIVE THINGS IN LIFE I'M SURE WE WOULDN'T BE SEEING ALOT OF THE THINGS THAT TAKING PLACE IN TODAYS SOCIETY. WHEN PRYER WAS TOOK OUT OF SCHOOL I KNEW THEN THAT THINGS WAS GOING TO START DOWN HILL FOR THE SVHOOL SYSTEM CHILDREN HAVE TO LEARN ABOUT IT SOME WHERE. tHEY ARE NOT LEARNING AT HOME OR AT SCHOOL NOW AND THEN WE WONDER WHAT IS GOING WRONG PEOPLE BETTER WAKE UP !!!! AND REALIZE WHATS HAPPENING IN TODAYS SOCIETY WITH ALL THE CRIME AND EVIL DOINGS. IT'S ALL BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE GETTING AWAY FROM WHATS RIGHT AND THAT'S THE BIBLE. THANK GOD FOR PEOPLE WHO WILL SPEAK OUT AND STILL STAND FOR WHATS RIGHT LIKE DR. DOBSON AND HIS WIFE IF THERE WAS JUST MANY MORE LIKE THAT WHAT A BETTER PLACE THIS WOULD BE. MAY GOD BLESS THEM.
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