ALL THIS hoopla around Dr. Hite's latest plan for our school district needs some perspective.

Talk to any educator and ask what is needed, for instance, to achieve "all 8 year olds reading on grade level."

As a retired kindergarten teacher, let me describe working conditions so you have an idea of what our children have to contend with when they enter kindergarten.

There can be up to 30 children in a class. Many have had some preschool experience, but I always had a group of children who walked in off the streets with absolutely no preschool experience. I never had a full-time assistant. If I was lucky someone came to assist me for an hour a day. Every year I received more and more children with serious health issues, ranging from asthma to Williams syndrome to mobility issues. I have had students with severe developmental delays. Having them evaluated often took an entire school year. Now, with the shortage of counselors and psychologists, it can take even longer. The curriculum was developmentally inappropriate for young children who use play to learn about the world. We were forced to use a tightly scripted curriculum that allowed little or no space for exploring materials. There was no certified school librarian to help foster library skills.

Given these conditions, now even more drastically cut back, how are all 8 year olds going to be reading on grade level? What supports are in place to ensure this?

Karel Kilimnik

Philadelphia