The most important goal teachers should ensure is that students can read and comprehend well when they graduate from high school. It is as simple as that; there is no excuse for a child to go to school for twelve years (thirteen if you count kindergarten) and not leave with the ability to read. It seems like it is the bare minimum, but we have adults in their late 20s, 30s, or even older who cannot read. It is a travesty, and it is borderline line criminal for this to be the case. The emphasis should be on teaching children to read. Parents should be asking, is my child’s school teaching my child to read? Parents should be asking themselves, how am I supporting my child with learning how to read? It is going to take a collective effort to get our children reading.
The Mind Trust, the Indianapolis-based education nonprofit, saw how important it was to invest in reading as well to push the culture of literacy. Back in March of 2021, they launched the Go Farther Literacy Fund. The program awarded funds ranging between $150 to 5,000 dollars to support families and community organizations who wanted to improve literacy rates for children. Modeled after The People’s Literacy Fund out of Oakland, California. Go Farther Literacy Fund is pouring money directing into the people and the families to support literacy at home.
At my school, we have our literacy focus in collaborating with our PEAK Organization called Summit READS (Reading Educates and Drives Success); our focus is to push a culture of literacy that goes beyond the reading block in our school day. By improving reading proficiency rates, we know that we can lower suspension rates, improve math scores, and improve overall student performance. This year we are being purposeful about making sure that we track and monitor and remediate, when necessary, all scholars to ensure we are improving reading levels all year. In grades kindergarten through second grade, our students are learning to read. When they get in third grade, they are now reading to learn. Phonological and phonemic awareness are essential components of literacy. The foundational grades of kindergarten, first, and second grade are critical to building that foundation for reading. Literacy is built on these two foundations. If they are not solid, everything else will suffer, and children will struggle to read—children who struggle to read and do not receive supports become adults who cannot read.
A firm belief of the work started by The People’s Literacy Fund in Oakland and picked up by the Go Farther Literacy fund in Indianapolis is the best way to improve literacy rates for all children is to support the families.
Application for round 2 of the Go Farther Literacy Fund opens October 1, 2021. Indianapolis families and community organizations interested in receiving funds can do so by visiting the Go Further Literacy Fund page https://www.themindtrust.org/gofarther/.
In the meantime, tune into episode 47 of The Recess Podcast where I will be joined by Dr. Charles Cole from The People’s Literacy Fund, Patrick Jones of The Mind Trust and the Go Farther Literacy Fund, and Neline Wooley, from Indy E.C.H.O. who was a recipient of the funds from round 1 of the Go Farther Literacy Fund.
The episode will stream live Thursday, September 23, 2021, at 7:00 pm E.S.T. To listen live, click the link and subscribe to The Recess Podcast Youtube.