Student answers call for change

Posted 11/17/09

Tara Maxson aspires to be an expert in English Language and literacy acquisition within the next 10 years, having published works on effective …

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Student answers call for change


Tara Maxson aspires to be an expert in English Language and literacy acquisition within the next 10 years, having published works on effective strategies for teaching linguistically diverse students.

In addition, she wants to work as a professor in higher education, teaching pre-service teachers.

The University of Denver graduate student, who hails from Littleton, is off to a good start, having recently published her opinion on the pros and cons of general education requirements and what the current administration should do to answer the country’s “call for change.”

Her essay “Changing American Education through Equality in Early Childhood Opportunities,” was selected as one of five winning essays in the 2009 Resolve to Evolve contest.

Maxson received $1,000 and her essay will be forwarded to officials who may be able to act on her suggestions.

College students have been creatively addressing current events and issues through the Resolve to Evolve Essay Scholarship since 2006.

This year, the contest asked applicants to explore the efficacy of general education requirements or create their own “calls for change” in response to the current administration’s tasks for the future.

Ensuring literacy acquisition and school readiness by way of public early childhood education programs is Maxson’s proposed solution to a seemingly inadequate education system.

“By providing all students with early childhood experiences, America will set its children up for success by increasing school readiness prior to kindergarten entrance, closing the achievement gap and by helping all students to attain grade-level literacy by third grade,” Maxson wrote in her essay.

“American schools are not serving students of diverse and at-risk backgrounds as well as their middle-class, English-speaking counterparts. Sending all children to preschool would help remedy this inequity.”

Like Maxson’s essay, her dissertation as a PhD candidate at the University of Denver, studying K-12 Leadership and Policy, will further explore the effects of early childhood education on the literacy and language acquisition of English language learners by third grade.

And she already has first-hand experience as she teaches elementary English as a Second Language, and works as a Spanish translator and interpreter.

“Research not only indicates that students who are not grade level have lower success rates in school and life, but also demonstrates that students who speak another language and have little support at home can take anywhere from four to seven years to acquire grade-level proficiency in academic English,” Maxson said.

“It is imperative that the American education system increase the rapidity of oral language and literacy acquisition for English language learners so that they encounter grade-level success by third grade.”

Maxson has earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Redlands in Southern California, and a master’s from the University of Colorado at Denver.

“A college education is infinitely important,” she said. “It will help me to attain the knowledge necessary to continue to conduct educational research.”

She continued, “I am grateful that the Resolve to Evolve committee selected me as a scholarship recipient. The award is significant not only because it will aid me in paying for school but also because my essay topic is something I am very passionate about.”

The other winning essays focused on general education requirements and how they should include life skills to help students get and keep jobs after graduation; legalizing and taxing marijuana to pay for two years of free tuition for every college-bound American; more flexible general education requirements with a firm foundation that left room for greater freedom after the first year of school; and energy reform in the United States.


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