We have an outstanding elementary school system in Chula Vista, but I want to do what I can to support them to be the best
Chula Vista, Calif. (PRWEB) March 15, 2012
Spurred by a reading crisis for American students, the city of Chula Vista, through the office of Mayor Cheryl Cox, has joined more than 120 cities, counties and towns that have submitted ambitious plans to get students on track for grade-level reading by the end of third grade.
In partnership with the United Way of San Diego County, the Chula Vista plan is now part of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading network, which will provide access to experts, policymakers, and foundations investing in early literacy. Many of the plans will also serve as applications for the All-America City awards, which will be announced by the National Civic League in July.
Chula Vista, along with the other partner communities both large and small, is addressing what is clearly a national crisis: a full two-thirds of U.S. students, and fourth-fifths of low-income children, fail to become proficient readers in the early grades.
“As a former elementary school teacher and principal I recognize the importance of this issue,” said Mayor Cox. “We have an outstanding elementary school system in Chula Vista, but I want to do what I can to support them to be the best as we look to strengthen all students’ abilities to prepare for high school graduation, college and career.”
The third grade milestone marks the point when children shift from learning to read and start reading to learn. Students who haven't mastered reading by that time are more likely to get stuck in a cycle of academic failure, drop out of school, and struggle throughout their lives.
The plans provide benchmark data for children in these communities, as well as strategies for ensuring more students are reading proficiently.
“To have so many partners throughout the city committed to supporting our schools is exciting,” said Chula Vista Elementary School District Superintendent Francisco Escobedo. “Individuals in many of our district offices and schools have been working with local organizations to develop a plan for Chula Vista that supports district initiatives and engages the community.”
"No single sector can make real, lasting change alone," said Brian Gallagher, CEO and President of United Way Worldwide, a founding member of the Campaign. "It's so encouraging to see local United Ways, city leaders, foundations, libraries, and literacy councils working together to mobilize individuals and organizations around the need to help young kids read."
In addition to the support they receive from the Grade-Level Reading network, each community will be included in a national grant registry where their plan can be reviewed by more than 100 foundations and philanthropic donors who fund early childhood and early learning and literacy projects.
"Communities have already won just by applying," said Gloria Rubio-Cortes, president of the National Civic League, which sponsors the annual All-America City Award. "The act of coming together and creating a plan for improving early learning puts these places ahead. The application process was intended to elicit the best ideas, develop partnerships, and discover program efficiencies to put children on a track to graduation and success."
Each community proposes strategies for tackling three underlying issues that can keep children from learning to read well:
School Readiness — too many children are entering kindergarten already behind.
School Attendance — too many young children are missing too many days of school.
Summer Learning — too many children are losing ground academically over the summer.
Research shows that children who aren't reading proficiently by the end of third grade are four times less likely to finish high school on time, one study showed. If they are poor and not reading proficiently, they are 13 times less likely to finish high school. And for children who live in areas of concentrated poverty, the prospects are even more grim.
"Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation," a report update released yesterday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, details that more than a third of poor students who live in poor neighborhoods and struggled with reading early on do not graduate from high school by age 19.
This concerted local action comes at a time when states and the federal government are paying particular attention to early education through legislation and grant programs. It also complements efforts underway by United Way Worldwide and the National League of Cities. Other major partners include the United States Conference of Mayors, America's Promise and the Council for a Strong America, whose Mission Readiness affiliate brings a strong national security message to the Campaign and other efforts to improve the prospects of the nation's youngest children.
To get involved in Chula Vista, email ChulaVistaReads@gmail.com.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
is a collaborative effort by dozens of funders across the nation to: close the gap in reading achievement that separates many low-income students from their peers; raise the bar for reading proficiency so that all students are assessed by world-class standards; and ensure that all children, including and especially children from low-income families, have an equitable opportunity to meet those higher standards. For more information, visit http://www.gradelevelreading.net.
The National Civic League
is the home of the All-America City Award, an honor achieved by more than 600 communities across the country. NCL is a 117-year-old nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that strengthens democracy by increasing the capacity of groups and individuals to participate in and build healthy and prosperous communities. NCL publishes the Model City Charter and the National Civic Review, and conducts programs, research and technical assistance on topics like fiscal sustainability, transportation-oriented development, environmental stewardship, racial equity and immigrant integration. http://www.ncl.org
The National League of Cities
is the nation’s oldest and largest organization devoted to strengthening and promoting cities as centers of opportunity, leadership and governance. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.
United Way Worldwide
is a worldwide network in 40 countries and territories, including more than 1,200 local organizations in the U.S. It advances the common good, creating opportunities for a better life for all by focusing on the three key building blocks of education, income and health. United Way recruits people and organizations who bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change. For more information about United Way, please visit: LIVEUNITED.org.
Supporters for the city of Chula Vista plan include:
United Way of San Diego County, Office of the Mayor, City of Chula Vista, Chula Vista Public Library, Chula Vista Elementary School District, Preschool for All/SDCOE, South Bay Family YMCA, First 5 San Diego, Reach Out And Read San Diego, Child Development Associates, Inc., Chula Vista Recreation Dept., Chula Vista Community Collaborative, Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego, The San Diego Council on Literacy, Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce, WestEd, Center Pointe Church, Foundry United Methodist Church, Southwestern College, High Tech High School, Chula Vista Nature Center, Altrusa International, Inc. of Chula Vista, South County Economic Development Council, Junior Achievement.