Eau Claire Grade Level Reading Campaign

June 30, 2012

Henry Giraux observed in a recent essay that, “Democracies need informed citizens to make them work and they can only survive amid a formative culture that produces individuals willing to think critically, imagine otherwise and act responsibly.” An educated and informed citizenry begins with assuring that all children in our local communities are reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Third grade reading proficiency is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. Unfortunately, the national Campaign for Grade Level Reading reports that every year, 68% of America’s children, and more that 80% of children from low-income families, fail to reach this important goal.

This year the National Civic League, in collaboration with the national Campaign for Grade Level Reading, United Way Worldwide, National League of Cities, and US Conference of Mayors, is coordinating a national effort to improve third grade reading competency for at-risk children as part of its All-American City Awards process. A national workshop on best practices to improve reading is being held this year in Denver on June 30-July 2.

Eau Claire is one of 124 charter members of the Grade-Level Reading Communities Network  and is represented at the Denver conference by Jan Porath and myself. Jan is the Executive Director of United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley and is serving a co-chair of the Eau Claire Grade-Level Reading campaign. I am at the conference on the behalf of Clear Vision Eau Claire, which is working with United Way to develop the local grade-level reading community initiative.

Over the next several years, Jan and other community members will be developing a community partnership of educators, parents, and community organizations to:

  1. Increase the number of third grade students reading at proficient levels;
  2. Strengthen community efforts to address key barriers to reading achievement by promoting children’s readiness for school, regular attendance and summer as a time to continue reading; and
  3. Building a more seamless community system of care, services, and family supports for children from birth through third grade.

For more information about how you can get involved in this grassroots community effort, contact Jan at jporath@uwgcv.org or me at hugginsmw@gmail.com.


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