Pinellas Women Educators Pledge to Improve Education Standards of Today’s Youth

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The Church of Scientology hosted local women educators at the Historic Fort Harrison to discuss how to better the education of children today.

Without sufficient education, people are delegated to the sidelines of life with little hope of contributing their unique gifts to society – it’s a lose-lose situation

A diverse mix of professional and volunteer Pinellas County women educators recently met at the Church of Scientology’s Fort Harrison to discuss issues and create solutions to the suffering state of a basic human right– education. The Church of Scientology is a 40-year advocate of ensuring that human rights are always protected and embraces the efforts to educate humankind of their inalienable liberties.

Human rights are rapidly entering the academic curriculum, with education being at the top of the list. Education is fundamental and essential for the use of all other human rights. The Church and the group, which included tutors, elementary and high school teachers, and directors of private schools, focused on the crisis of illiteracy and lack of quality education in the United States, which is worse now than reported a century ago. They cited such grave statistics as:

•70% of Florida 8th Grade students are below proficiency in reading skills (National Center for Education Statistics)

•The Pinellas County school district has the worst graduation rate of African American males of any district in the country – in 2010 Pinellas graduated just 21 percent of African-American male students who had enrolled. (Schott Foundation for Public Education)

•In May 2012, Florida education officials reported that nearly half of Florida’s high school students failed the reading portion of the state’s new FCAT.

•The last national survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2003, found 14% of the adult population in America to be functionally illiterate, an increase from the statistics reported in the census of 1900 that 11% of Americans were illiterate.

•The same 2003 survey found that 40% of Americans were at basic or below basic levels of reading proficiency.

•The survey also found 60% of adults in the U.S. prison system at or below the fourth grade reading level, and 85% of US juvenile inmates to be functionally illiterate.

The group identified a primary cause of today’s poor literacy levels to be confusing teaching methods introduced into the American education system in the early 1900s. By the 1950s, “whole word” reading instruction had become the prevailing teaching method. This method teaches children to see words as whole pieces of language, rather than the combinations of letters. Though it was exposed as unworkable in 1955, the situation worsened in the 1990s with the introduction of “whole language” reading, which emphasizes that children should focus on meaning and strategy rather than phonics, or the ability to recognize the correspondence of sound and spelling.

In 2000, the Federal National Reading Panel examined hundreds of science based studies and determined that the centuries-old successful method of phonics-based instruction was the most successful way to teach reading. Yet, a study by the National Council of Teacher Quality discovered in 2006 that only 15% of teachers colleges in the U.S. were providing teachers with exposure to this method. With such a low application of working teaching methods, the education of America’s children has dramatically suffered.

Because of this, the Church of Scientology is dedicated to increasing the minimum standards of today’s schooling methods and providing children with easy access to academic provisions. Along with the Church, the group of educators resolved to network with fellow peers throughout Pinellas County in a grassroots movement to promote science-based reading instruction methods as the primary teaching tool. They also pledged to encourage furthering the implementation of stronger educational courses.

Sharon Hillestad, Community Learning Center Director of Tutoring, attended the meeting and believes educators should be more assertive in pushing stronger education for children and fulfilling an indispensable obligation.

“Without sufficient education, people are delegated to the sidelines of life with little hope of contributing their unique gifts to society – it’s a lose-lose situation,” Hillestad explained.

The Church of Scientology and its parishioners participate in and host a multitude of events celebrating the extraordinary efforts of Tampa Bay residents that strive to make the community a better place to live, work and play. Today, Scientologists on five continents work with both governmental and nongovernmental agencies to bring about global human rights awareness.

Pat Harney, Church of Scientology public affairs official, presented all participants with the tools for workable education as described in the recent publication by the Church of Scientology in the “How We Help” series – “Applied Scholastics, Achieving Literacy and Education.” Guests also received the volume of the recently published biographical encyclopedia on educator, humanitarian and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard, entitled, “Education, Literacy and Civilization.”

About Applied Scholastics:

Applied Scholastics International is a secular nonprofit public benefit corporation that addresses head-on the problem of illiteracy by making broadly available L. Ron Hubbard’s discoveries in the field of education and literacy. Since 1972, Scientologists have worked with and supported Applied Scholastics.

About the Church of Scientology:

The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher, L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in the United States in 1954 and has expanded to more than 10,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 184 countries. Scientologists are optimistic about life and believe there is hope for a saner world and better civilization, and actively do all they can to help achieve this. The Church of Scientology regularly engages in many humanitarian programs, such as anti-drug campaigns, human rights campaigns and global education programs. To learn more, visit http://www.scientology.org.

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