California commits to literacy goal and bets on dual literacy

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California State Superintendent of Education Tony Thurmond announced an initiative to ensure that not only will every student learn to read in grade three by 2026, but that the effort will also include a bialiteracy for bilingual learners.

Thurmond creates a working group to bring together practitioners, advocates, researchers, foundation partners, thought leaders, students, parents and other experts to identify key strategies to advance this goal . Efforts are underway within the California Department of Education (CDE) to put in place a structure and membership for the working group, as well as establishing when the working group will meet and details of the types of issues they are facing. will face.

On the legislative side, California Assembly Member Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) has agreed to sponsor legislation to advance the initiative. The legislation, which will be formally introduced in 2022, will be informed by recommendations emanating from the working group and could include the provision of resources to advance literacy and bi-literacy goals through professional learning to teach reading. , family engagement strategies and methods of obtaining books. the hands of students and their families, among others. Thurmond anticipates that the legislation will present a multi-faceted strategy that takes into account issues of preparation, chronic absenteeism, the needs of students with disabilities and multilingual learners, early education and socio-economic factors that impact on a student’s ability to learn to read.

“I look forward to working closely with all of you in the coming weeks and months to improve children’s literacy and bi-literacy,” Bonta said at the press conference. “Literacy for every child in California has been a passion for me throughout my life and quite frankly is what I believe is the surest path to justice and true democracy in our state and in this country. I congratulate Superintendent Thurmond on this targeted campaign. It is a bold and aggressive program. I agree and I want to make sure that we have the capacity to deliver legislation that is going to be meaningful and focus on implementation and making it a reality for every child in this state. Literacy is the key to equity; it forms the foundation of our educational capacity and achievements, and we will fight together for literacy, equity and justice in the future.

“We already know that when students learn to read, they can read to learn anything, and that this is a bridging skill that can take them at any point in their life, from their career and their journey, ”said Thurmond. “We also know that when students don’t learn to read in grade three, they are at greater risk of dropping out of school and at greater risk of ending up in the criminal justice system. From my perspective, this is a strategy that is about a lot of things: helping kids learn to read, but also putting them on a path that can create success for them. Our students can learn and overcome obstacles, but we have to give them the resources to do so, and clearly now is the time to move forward. “

Thurmond repeated the words of CEO of the California Association for Bilingual Education, Jan Gustafson-Corea: “Each of our students can learn to read and write in two languages, and do so in a way that meets standards. school level ”, before offering the association’s membership in the plan. Other press conference attendees shared their personal stories and encouraged statewide support for literacy and literacy for all students, regardless of social and economic background.

“California needs to work together to prioritize this early learning for its youngest children,” said Jackie Thu-Huong Wong, deputy chief executive of First 5 California. “We believe that targeted early literacy interventions can improve outcomes for an entire generation of California children, and we are very grateful and look forward to working with Superintendent Thurmond and the team to make literacy a reality. for all California kids. “

Assembly member Jim Frazier (D-Fairfield), liaison with the State Advisory Commission on Special Education, shared a heartfelt and personal story of his own childhood battle to overcome dyslexia. “It was embarrassing, humiliating, and I was always called stupid or lazy,” he said. “I hope we can take on this role and task force in the future to make so many differences in people’s lives – not only societal changes and benefits, but also the economic prosperity of people’s education. is the path to success, and I can’t wait to be a part of it and create new paths.

“It has been an incredibly difficult year for our students, educators and their families,” said E. Toby Boyd, president of the California Teachers Association. “The pandemic has shed light on the challenges our schools and communities face in serving the six million students in our system. I, along with my 310,000 educators, are ready to work with Superintendent Thurmond, Assembly members Bonta and Frazier, and task force members to develop thoughtful strategies and policies for our youngest learners and also for the future of California public education.

Thurmond encouraged those who are interested in participating in this new literacy effort or wanting to know more to email [email protected]. Thurmond also called for efforts to get the books into the hands of as many students and families as possible.

An archived broadcast of the full press conference with American Sign Language interpretation service can be viewed on the site CDE Facebook page.


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