Improprieties in Pres. Bush's "Reading First" Program?

One of Bush's signature education initiatives, Reading First provides more than $1 billion annually to public schools to help teach reading to disadvantaged children through third grade. Unprecedented in size, it is one of the few federal programs that isn't shrinking in this time of budget cuts. Congress is expected to distribute about $6 billion to schools by 2007.

A spokesman for Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., confirmed that an audit was taking place, opponents saying that the program has all but forced schools to buy textbooks and related materials from a handful of large publishers, several of which have retained top federal advisers as authors, editors or consultants. Gannett News Service story here .


Success is spelled r-e-a-d-i-n-g

The Gazette Reports from Montreal on Quebec schools will be the front lines of a labour dispute between teachers and the provincial government. Among the teachers' demands is more support for students with a variety of needs - learning disabilities, behavioural problems. Gazette education reporter Allison Lampert describes two groups of students who got extra help - and what it cost.Literacy is key to academic success in all subjects; indeed, some studies cited by Quebec's Education Department say girls do better at school than boys because they are more assiduous readers. This fall, the department is launching a literacy campaign that will invest $60 million over three years to improve school libraries.


It's August. Have the Kids Started Their Reading Lists Yet?

Summertime, and the living is e-a-s-y. But have the kids started their reading lists yet?

The Asbury Park Press (NJ) has an article on the age-old issue of getting kids to read, and which books will encourage the habit (Tolstoy, no; Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, yes). Kids, teachers and librarians chime in with their thoughts on the matter.


Group from Ithaca, NY draws praise

This editorial appeared in the Ithaca Journal. Ithaca is where I grew up and it is often described as "10 square miles srrounded by reality." Things like this show that is not always the case. I still live in Tompkins County and am proud of the area. - Bill Drew

The full story is at:
Literacy: Local group earns praise

There are times when we are reminded there's more to life's equation than cynicism comprehends. There are those who need, but there are tireless people doing wonderful things to help others.

Family Reading Partnership co-founder and Executive Director Brigid Hubberman's inclusion in the July 22 Newsweek “America's Best� feature is one of those reminders.

Nominated by Ithacan and Cornell staff writer Diane Lebo Wallace, Hubberman shares the spotlight in the feature with two Georgia mothers who created a medical research foundation, doctors who work with Africa's poor, a man who created a store that “sells� food to the hungry at whatever price they can afford, and a man who uses the outdoors to empower at-risk kids. It's a national stage and some grand company, and an honor Hubberman and all those behind the Family Reading Partnership richly deserve.

For most Tompkins County residents, the Family Reading Partnership has become as much a part of our reality as walks in cool summer gorges and hot-tempered debates about everything. For years it's been hard to drive or walk around the area without stopping to stare at one of the partnership's giant “Read to Me� banners, created and spread out around the county courtesy of the group's massive contributor network and coalition of individuals, schools, libraries and businesses. The group's goal is to promote reading as a family value - particularly reading aloud to young children to promote literacy and lifelong communication skills — and they put up more than banners to do it.

Australia Council's books promo

Crikey Says the site Books Alive is an annual initiative funded by the Australia Council promoting 50 "great read" books across a range of genres.

The 2005 program was launched this week and has roped in the internationally best selling author of Ice Station and Hover Car Racer, Matthew Reilly, to extol the virtues of reading.

Reilly has even written a free, limited edition, self proclaimed "page-burner" to mark the launch, entitled Hell Island.


Don't Know Much about History

Rock star historian David McCullough spoke to a Senate hearing last month about the sorry state of history education in America.

McCullough said at the hearing that the problem starts with the training that teachers receive. "Too many have degrees in education," he said, "and don't really know the subject they are teaching."

The rest of this David Broder/WaPo column is here.


England to give free books to all under-fives

Anonymous Patron writes "Guardian Unlimited Politics Reports England's Education secretary to announce initiative designed to promote reading and help overcome class barriers by targeting very young.Every child up to the age of four is to get a free bag of books under a £27m government scheme designed to promote reading."


Turning kids into happy readers

It’s National Reading Month in Malaysia and once again libraries are leading the charge to get people, especially children, interested in books. But is that happening? Daphne Lee finds out. It’s interesting though how many parents want their children to read yet baulk at the task of leading by example. And when the subject of public libraries is raised, most have little to say that’s positive.


The true axis of evil: illiteracy, poverty and mental illness

David Rothman writes "Literacy programs in isolation just won't cut it in many cases. What if some people are too depressed to attend? And what if they're just distracted by the general hassles of being poor? Could literacy programs be missing the people needing them the most? This is old wisdom to clueful poverty warriors, but I'm glad to see it getting some airing in a British educational consortium's report summed up in the Guardian. While e-books (my own little cause) can help fight illiteracy, they are hardly a panacea--nor, even, are literacy programs themselves. Needless to say, cause-effects can go in all kinds of directions. (Found via Bookslut.)"


Getting Boys to Read: A Matter of Taste

Here's a clueful story about the secret to getting boys to read: give them more flexibility in reading material. More from the Montgomery (AL) Advertiser.

"By keeping a collection of books that embrace a wide variety of literary genre, we also usually find boys are more willing to read," Daffin said. "Limit their choices too much via the traditional choices, and most boys look at reading as a chore."


International Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey

kathleen writes "Highlights From the 2003 International Adult Literacy and Lifeskills Survey (ALL) were released May 11, 2005.
The Adult Literacy and Lifeskills (ALL) Survey is an international comparative study designed to provide participating countries, including the United States, with information about the skills of their adult populations. ALL measured the literacy and numeracy skills of a nationally representative sample from each participating country.

The International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) is a large-scale, international comparative assessment designed to identify and measure a range of skills linked to the social and economic characteristics of individuals across (or within) nations. As our societies become more and more information-oriented, it is clear that adults will need a broad set of skills in order to participate effectively in the labor market, in political processes, and in their communities. They will need to be literate and numerate; they will need to be capable problem-solvers; and increasingly, they will need to be familiar with information and communications technologies.

IALS provides information on the skills and attitudes of adults aged 16-65 in a number of different areas, including:

* Prose Literacy

* Document Literacy

* Quantitative Literacy"


Biblical Literacy

Kathleen writes " The Bible Literacy Project reports the study, Bible Literacy Report: What do American teens need to know and what do they know? by the John Templeton Foundation that most American teens lack enough understanding of the Bible to be able to receive a high-quality education. [Templeton and his foundation work on the premise that scientific principles of evolution and the idea of God as Creator are compatible]. 'The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide' is located in the Bible Literacy Project's "Curriculum Adoption Kit," which also includes a printable sample chapter of the forthcoming textbook, The Bible and American Civilization.
MyWest reports that Midland Independent School District administrators are hoping to introduce a biblical class before the 2006-07 school year.

The First Amendment Guide can also be obtained from the First Amendment Center"


Helping Mississippi Read

tncorgi writes "April 06, 2005 - In 2000, the Barksdale family of Mississippi decided that the reading skills in its home state were unacceptable and became determined to improve them. A donation of $100 million by family members resulted in the founding of the Barksdale Reading Institute in Oxford."


Information Literacy Test from ETS

points to the ETS's (Educational Testing Service) Information
and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy Assessment
. The assessment
attempts to measure critical-thinking and technical skills that include
the ability to define, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, create, and
communicate information. Wired
journalist Amit Asaravala took a trial test, which 'may' include completing
tasks like "scanning e-mail messages for important attachments, looking
for documents using a search engine and picking the most authoritative
sources out of a set of search results." Asaravala suggests it's still
rough and doesn't (yet) coincide well with real world internet technologys
but that ETS is using feedback from the test trials to make refinements.


When Reading Wanes, It's Time To Worry

kylere writes "Interesting op-ed piece I found in the International Herald Tribune states, "One of the surprising findings of "Reading at Risk" was that literary readers are markedly more civically engaged than nonreaders." I {author Gioia}find it a shame that it took a study to determine this fact." The author of this article, Dana Gioia , is the Director of the National Endowment for the Arts, whose agency funded the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts.


Guys (Don't ) Read

Good Washington Post piece that looks at the lower incidence of readers among boys. It's agreed that there is little agreement on why boys tend to read much less than girls.

``Part of it is biological and part of it is sociological, but boys are definitely drifting down,'' said Jon Scieszka, author of the ``The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales,'' and founder of the Web site, which is aimed at helping interest boys in reading. ``We've been testing kids in America for the last 25 years and finding out that boys are doing worse than girls,'' he said. ``But we don't do enough to change that.''

(Do have a look at Scieszka's site--it's snazzy!)


Libraries/Learning in Yemen Not Respected

Here's an op-ed piece from someone who decries the state of higher ed libraries and learning in Yemen. In particular he talks about how higher ed libraries are filled with young women who are more interested in socializing than learning. He also acknowledges that the women gather at the library because they are not allowed to gather elsewhere in public.

It is interesting to think, then, about this amusing irony: that only when women in this society feel comfortable in other public places, and when libraries can be treated with the respect they deserve, will we be on the path to true cultural greatness.

More from the Yemen Observer.


Libraries' network to be set up across country: Atta

Anonymous Patron writes "Hi Pakistan reports on The Higher Education Commission (HEC) intends to launch a major programme, aimed at creating and enhancing reading habits among the people especially the youth. "


Watching TV--Great Training for a Spelling Bee

Some kids prepare for a spelling bee by studying the dictionary. Others have their parents quiz them from lists of long and tricky words. Thirteen-year-old Jason Liao, whose native language is Cantonese, has a unique strategy: He watches television — especially “The Simpsons,� with the captions on.

Jason's technique of TV as teacher helped him learn English as a toddler (Sesame Street), and now he hopes it will help him to make it through the semi-finals to compete in the 78th National Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington, DC in May. Here's the Portland Tribune story.


Losing punctuation

slashgirl writes "An editorial lamenting the lack of punctuation these days (I wonder if she's read "Eats, shoots, and leaves"?). 'Animals with brains invariably have ways of conveying meaning and messages. Horses flick their ears and lower their heads to say they want to be friends. Peacocks fan out their tail feathers to signal their availability and ambitions to hens. People wink and pose in a multitude of body language ways that speak volumes.

And on paper, in English, there are a host of shapes and marks that communicate meaning. Letters of the alphabet more or less symbolize sounds. Capitalized letters signify some sort of special value. Punctuation marks indicate when to stop or pause, question or exclaim when speaking what is written; they provide a sort of frame around the ideas on the page, to help keep things organized.'

The rest here."



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