More on the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
By Mike McGrath
State of the Re:Union contributor Mike McGrath of the National Civic League shares the encouraging news on how schools across the U.S. are vying to be a part of the All-American City Grade-Level Reading Award.
The response has been overwhelming. We’ve gotten more than 150 letters of intent to participate in the 2012 All-America City Grade-Level Reading Award. The list includes cities large and small (L.A., NYC, Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, Seattle, among others) and counties and multi-county areas from 36 states. Two U.S. Territories and D.C. are represented. You can read a press release from the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading here.
Our goal was to get 50 to 55 communities to sign up. This level of interest has more than surpassed expectations, which suggests that grade-level reading may be an issue whose time has come. We’ve been working with the National League of Cities and United Way Worldwide, among other groups, to generate interest in this award. This great show of interest is partly a testament to their work in ginning up interest in communities all over the country.
The awards will be given to communities (counties, regions, whatever) that develop the most comprehensive, realistic and sustainable plans for addressing three issues: school readiness, school attendance and summer learning.
The communities that sent letters of intent will join the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s network. Being part of the network allows them to seek assistance during the application process when they will be developing community-wide plans for improving reading achievement by the end of third grade.
Honestly, we didn’t know how this was going to turn out when NCL President Gloria Rubio-Cortés came up with this idea. Since 1949, NCL has offered this award for communities that show outstanding civic accomplishments, but in the past we have always let the communities themselves highlight the programs that think best illustrate the values of the award, innovation, inclusiveness, equity and the ability to show results.
So in any given year, we might find out about a successful homeless program, an original approach to economic development, an effort to address gang violence or provide dental care for low income kids. This time we are working with the campaign to help people develop their community-based projects on grade-level reading.
Another unusual element of the AAC grade-level reading is effort—in 2015 we are going to back the reading issue as a focus of the AAC program. Only in 2015, it will be about accomplishment—what these communities have actually accomplished with their plans.
This is really new for us. We want to be part of a coalition that focuses intently on one issue. We want to see if we can move the dime.
This year, AAC GLR awards will be held June 30-July 2 in Denver, Colorado, the time we hold the award program in our hometown. In the past, we have always held the event in a community that was a past winner. It helps for the people in the community where the event it held to get the award and what it stands for. Denver has never won the award, and in my memory, nor has it entered. This year the Mile High City is entering, one more indication that this GLR thing is an idea whose time has come.
Is there a school that you think should be recognized for an outstanding reading program or service? If you would like to find out more on how to enter your school into the 2012 All-American City Grade-Level Reading Award, click here.
Mike McGrath is senior editor and chief information officer for the National Civic League. A former newspaper reporter and magazine writer, he is editor of the quarterly National Civic Review, which will be beginning its centennial year of publishing this spring.
Mike’s posts will appear every Thursday on the State of the Re:Union website.