Thursday, February 25, 2010

Libraries & Homeless

Libraries dealing with homeless try new approaches; San Francisco hires a social worker LA Times: February 20, 2010: by Evelyn Nieves-Associated Press Writer

Every day, when the main library opens, John Banks is waiting to get inside. He finds a spot and stays until closing time. Then his wheelchair takes him back to the bus terminal where he spends his nights.

Like many homeless public library patrons, all Banks wants is a clean, safe place to sit in peace. He doesn't want to talk to anyone. He doesn't want anyone to talk to him. But the day he decides he wants help, he knows what to do: ask for the social worker.

The main branch of the San Francisco Public Library, where hundreds of homeless people spend every day, is the first in the country to keep a full-time social worker on hand, according to the American Library Association. READ MORE !

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Read for the Record - Vote for Your Favorite

Read for the Record - Jumpstart

Jumpstart's annual "Read for the Record" contest.
Vote for your favorite of this year’s 4 classic books:


Blueberries for Sal
Make Way for Ducklings
Peter's Chair
The Snowy Day


Voting closes on February 28.

The winner will be announced on March 2 via text message and will become the centerpiece of Jumpstart’s 5th annual record-breaking campaign !

Learn more about the book choices @ Jumpstart !

Each time you vote, the Pearson Foundation, Read for the Record's sponsor and founding partner, will donate $1* to Jumpstart to support our yearlong efforts to connect college students and community volunteers with preschool children in low-income communities, helping to prepare them for kindergarten and beyond. (*up to $200,000)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Playing to Learn

Playing to Learn
NY Times: February 1, 2010 by Susan Engel (Op Ed)


THE Obama administration is planning some big changes to how we measure the success or failure of schools and how we apportion federal money based on those assessments. It’s great that the administration is trying to undertake reforms, but if we want to make sure all children learn, we will need to overhaul the curriculum itself. Our current educational approach — and the testing that is driving it — is completely at odds with what scientists understand about how children develop during the elementary school years and has led to a curriculum that is strangling children and teachers alike.

In order to design a curriculum that teaches what truly matters, educators should remember a basic precept of modern developmental science: developmental precursors don’t always resemble the skill to which they are leading. For example, saying the alphabet does not particularly help children learn to read. But having extended and complex conversations during toddlerhood does. Simply put, what children need to do in elementary school is not to cram for high school or college, but to develop ways of thinking and behaving that will lead to valuable knowledge and skills later on.

So what should children be able to do by age 12, or the time they leave elementary school? They should be able to read a chapter book, write a story and a compelling essay; know how to add, subtract, divide and multiply numbers; detect patterns in complex phenomena; use evidence to support an opinion; be part of a group of people who are not their family; and engage in an exchange of ideas in conversation. If all elementary school students mastered these abilities, they would be prepared to learn almost anything in high school and college.

. . . . . . . . . .

A classroom like this would provide lots of time for children to learn to collaborate with one another, a skill easily as important as math or reading. It takes time and guidance to learn how to get along, to listen to one another and to cooperate. These skills cannot be picked up casually at the corners of the day.

The reforms suggested by the administration on Monday have the potential to help liberate our schools. But they can only do so much. Our success depends on embracing a curriculum focused on essential skills like reading, writing, computation, pattern detection, conversation and collaboration — a curriculum designed to raise children, rather than test scores. READ MORE !

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Adult Literacy Leaders

literacy banquet speaker got tired of 'faking life'
Clay Today: February 10, 2010 by Stephen Kindland


ORANGE PARK – Douglas Smith’s voice grows louder when he talks about a life void of written communication. He wants everyone who can’t read or write to hear his message.

“When you’re a grown man and can’t read, you have a mask on,” he said. “You go through life faking it. You learn to say things like, ‘I left my glasses at home’ when you’re asked to read, and you make up all kinds of other excuses because you’re ashamed.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way, Smith told about 75 people attending the 10th annual Clay County Literacy Coalition awards banquet on Thursday, Feb. 4.

“If an alcoholic never admits he’s an alcoholic, he’ll never get help,” he told his audience at Doctors Lake Elementary School. “I stand here humble but I also stand proud. Friends accepted me with open arms when they found out I couldn’t read.”

Smith said he grew tired of “faking life” by using his memory to make up for his inability to read, even though he had become a successful business owner in New York City after spending the first 15 years of his life as a sharecropper’s son on a South Carolina farm. Picking cotton with 17 brothers and sisters – only one of whom finished high school and went on to college -- was mandatory; attending the local segregated school was optional.

“But my mom instilled values in me even though I couldn’t read,” Smith said.

The retired baker, who now lives in Jacksonville, stepped into a new world four years ago after enrolling in the city’s Lean to Read program.

He is proud to say that at age 68, his reading skills have increased dramatically since they were measured at a second-grade level. But he’s sad to report that the program that opened his eyes has closed its doors for lack of funding. READ MORE !

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

California Schools

Our State, Our Schools:
California Students Take it Back !
California Prison Moratorium Project Blog: February 8, 2010
Originally printed in the Fresno Undercurrent


Once upon a time California held the model public education system in the country, seeing educating youth and workers, regardless of income, as a crucial investment. In the 1980s a drastic priority shift occurred, redirecting funds from education to other, less beneficial industries such as the prison industrial complex.

Since 1980 California State University has lost $650 million in state general funding support and student fees have increased 1,188%, from $231 a year to today’s $2,976 . This past year alone fees have been raised 32% and the coming year is looking at another fee hike.

Teachers are getting laid off, classes have been cut, mandatory furloughs for nearly 47,000 employees reduce class time, and enrollment caps kept out 35,000 incoming freshman for the 2010 spring semester and the winter semester is looking about the same. The University of California system and community colleges have all had similar funding problems.

Governor Schwarzenegger’s most recent budget plan includes another $2.4 billion in cuts from education while the state is eagerly moving forward on a $12 billion prison expansion project. READ MORE !

Invest in communities not cages... It’s the only solution

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Case for Literature

The Case for Literature
Education Week: February 8, 2010 by Nancie Atwell


A few weeks ago, I received an urgent e-mail: The National Council of Teachers of English is looking for volunteers for an ad hoc task force whose charge is to gather evidence about why literature should continue to be taught in the 21st century.

Apparently, the worth of book reading had become an issue among the work groups that, behind closed doors, were writing the K-12 “common-core standards” that promise to shape curriculum in U.S. classrooms. Given that the Common Core State Standards Initiative is dominated by test-makers and politicians—representatives from the College Board, ACT, Achieve, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the National Governors Association—I was dismayed, but not surprised, that the NCTE was finding it necessary to lobby on behalf of literature.

Drafts of the various standards reportedly have been undergoing significant revisions, and release of a version for public comment may be imminent. But regardless of the stage of the project, giving corporate interests a role in setting education policy is like letting foxes supervise the henhouse. These foxes are not vested in children’s reading books. They are interested in profitmaking—in selling prefab curricula, standards, and the diagnostic, formative, and summative tests that measure them.

The irony—and tragedy—is that book reading, which profits a reader, an author, and a democratic society, is also the single activity that consistently relates to proficiency in reading, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

In 2007, fully 70 percent of U.S. 8th graders read below the proficient level on the NAEP exam. Our 13-year-olds aren’t reading well because they’re not reading enough: The National Endowment for the Arts has reported that only 30 percent of students in this age group read every day. And that’s where literature comes in— or should.
. . . . .
Concerned parents, teachers, and professional organizations need to lobby legislators and other policymakers to put children’s and young-adult literature at the center of standards for the teaching of reading. The opportunity for every student to sit quietly and become immersed in an actual book may not be high-tech, instantly quantifiable, or lucrative for the College Board. It just happens to be the only way that anyone ever became a reader. READ MORE !

Friday, February 5, 2010

Save Our Libraries - Advocacy UPDATE

Out of Work Librarians Need Your Help NOW !
from the American Library Association
Take Action

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced yesterday that he will bring the Senate's $80 billion version of the Jobs for Main Street Act or the "jobs bill" to the Senate floor sometime next week.

Libraries are not in this bill, and it is more important than ever that you call your Senators and encourage them to include librarians in the $20.5 billion section that is being used to hire and retain teachers, police, and firefighters.

Also, if you are in a state where librarians are represented by a union, please have your local union contact your national union to contact the Senate.

Please call your Senators today at the U.S. Capital switchboard:
202 . 224 . 3121

Libraries are as essential as schools and public safety and help the economy by helping people find jobs. Yet library jobs are being cut - and, now, not included in this jobs bill. It is vitally important that librarians be as vocal as these other public employees. The reason they are getting funding in this piece of legislation is because they are calling their congressional offices more often and in higher numbers than we are.

Your grassroots efforts are critically important. The omission of librarians in the jobs bill is in addition to the troubling news this week that President Obama's budget proposal freezes the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and consolidates the school library program with literacy programs in the Department of Education. These cuts will lead to a loss of jobs and a loss of services that our communities cannot afford to be without.

Please call both of your U.S. Senators to ask each of them to request that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), include the hiring and retaining of librarians in their jobs bill.

This bill could come up at any moment and it is critically important that you contact your Senators' offices immediately and tell them to push the above Senate leaders to include librarians in the jobs bill. Don't just call once - keep calling until we succeed. Make sure to tell your senators what your library is doing to help people find jobs.

We cannot let this legislation pass without the inclusion of library employees. We have no chance of getting into this legislation without your calls and emails - and the support of all senators ! !

literacy : : : lite : racy

President Obama Eliminates Funding for Reading Is Fundamental's Book Distribution Program Serving 4.4 Million Children Nationwide

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement from Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO, of Reading Is Fundamental:

"On February 1, President Obama released his proposed FY2011 budget which eliminates the funding for Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and its nationwide services. Without this federal funding, over 4.4 million children and families will not receive free books or reading encouragement from RIF programs at nearly 17,000 locations throughout the U.S.

"Unless Congress reinstates $25 million in funding for this program, RIF will not be able to distribute 15 million books annually to the nation's children at greatest risk for academic failure. RIF programs in schools, community centers, hospitals, military bases, and other locations serving children from low-income families, children with disabilities, homeless children, and children without adequate access to libraries. The Inexpensive Book Distribution program is authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (SEC.5451 Inexpensive Book Distribution Program for Reading Motivation) and is not funded through earmarks. It has been funded by Congress and six Administrations without interruption since 1975.

"Since its founding in 1966, RIF has played a critical role in improving literacy in this country by providing new, free books for children to keep and build home libraries. Access to books and the power of choice ignite children's hunger for knowledge and a passion for learning. In addition, research has shown that children who have more access to books not only perform better academically, but also become productive individuals whose contributions help create strong communities. On behalf of RIF and its network of over 400,000 volunteers nationwide, I urge all Americans to contact their congressional representatives and ask them to reinstate funding for this vital program."

Act Now: RIF.org/saverif

Temple Grandin - HBO Feb 6

Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is the most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world.

Now her fascinating life, with all its challenges and successes is being brought to the screen. HBO has produced the full-length film Temple Grandin, which premieres on Saturday, February 6th on HBO. [ watch preview ]

She has been featured on NPR (National Public Radio), major television programs, such as the BBC special "The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow", ABC's Primetime Live, The Today Show, Larry King Live, 48 Hours and 20/20, and has been written about in many national publications, such as Time magazine, People magazine, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, and New York Times.

Among numerous other recognitions by media, Bravo Cable did a half-hour show on her life, and she was featured in the best-selling book, Anthropologist from Mars.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Library Advocacy: Please Act Now !


URGENT MESSAGE FOR LIBRARY ADVOCATES

ALA reports that Congressional offices hear from teachers, police and firefighters every day and almost nothing from the library community.

Libraries are as essential as schools and public safety.
Libraries help the economy by helping people find jobs.
Library jobs are being cut now.

Libraries are not included in the Jobs for Main Street Act.

Library Advocates and Librarians must be as vocal as other public employees. The reason they are getting funding in this piece of legislation is because they call their congressional offices more often and in higher numbers than the library community.

The omission of librarians in the jobs bill is bad enough; there’s more . . .
President Obama's budget proposal:
-freezes the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA)
-consolidates the school library program with literacy programs in the Department of Education.

These cuts will lead to a loss of jobs and a loss of services that our communities cannot afford to be without.


This bill could come up at any moment and it is critically important that you contact your Senators' offices immediately and tell them to push the above Senate leaders to include librarians in the jobs bill.

Don't just call once - keep calling !
Make sure to tell your senators what your library is doing to help people find jobs.

Don't let this legislation pass without the inclusion of library employees. There is no chance of getting this into the legislation without your calls and emails.

Please call both of your U.S. Senators to ask each of them to request that
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
include the hiring and retaining of librarians in the $18 billion as well.

Call the U.S. Capital switchboard ASAP at 202 . 224 . 3121.
email addresses and other contact information @


Please Act Now ! ! !