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Literacy Coalition News
July/August 2012



Literacy Coalition Expands Imagination Library!

Thanks to the support of community partners and sponsors, especially the Dorothy and Marshall Reisman Foundation ($40,000 over three years); the John Ben Snow Foundation ($5,000); and the Lockheed Martin Employees' Federated Fund that will sponsor 30 children ($900), the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County made the Imagination Library expansion announcement to Syracuse's Westside at the 3rd Annual Near Westside Multicultural Block Party on August 16th at Skiddy Park.

Little Free Library

Wilianys and Sojeilys Rivera with su amiga Elianny Pizzaro were among the children enrolled in Imagination Library under the "family literacy" tent at the block party. (Wainwright Photo)

Launched in May of 2010, the local program now serves children from birth until age 5 that live in the Northside (13203 & 13208) and Westside (13204) of the City of Syracuse. To date, 1520 children have been enrolled and 20,610 age-appropriate books have been distributed. The Imagination Library was founded nationally in 1995 by singer and songwriter Dolly Parton. The program now operates in over 2,000 communities in three countries, including Cayuga and Madison counties. On-going program evaluation will continue thanks to the Le Moyne College Center for Urban and Regional Applied Research (CURAR) and a $20,000 research grant from the Sociological Initiatives Foundation. Click here to read full article and/or click here for editorial "Investing in Reading".

As charter members of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County is now focused on the most important predictor of school success and high school graduation: grade-level reading by the end of third grade. Schools cannot succeed alone. The academic success of children from low-income families requires an engaged community mobilized to remove barriers, expand opportunities, and assist parents to serve as full partners in the success of their children. Click here to learn more.

Syracuse school board adopts five-year plan to improve schools, student performance

By Maureen Nolan, The Post-Standard

Strategic PlanSyracuse School Superintendent Sharon Contreras presented her five-year plan for the district Wednesday at Clary Middle School in Syracuse.

The Syracuse school district has a new five-year plan to try to lift students from the depths of poor performance to surpass their peers in the state's other big urban districts. Those other districts in general don't do as well as suburban districts do, but even so, besting them would be a steep climb for Syracuse. The average Big 5 urban districts graduation rate, for example, was 65 percent last year, compared with Syracuse's 53 percent (The Big 5 are Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers and New York City.) Click here to read full article.

Say Yes to Education Summer Camp

By Mary Kay DeVore, The Post-Standard

Little Free Library

Youth enrichment specialists for the Say Yes to Education program Maria Rotondo (left) and Teneia Walker work with Lovina Katura, 10, at Frazer School. Lovina will be in the fourth grade this fall at Delaware Elementary School. (John Berry, The Post-Standard)

"Students are getting continuous academic and enrichment activities throughout the summer months with Say Yes Summer Camp," said Pat Driscoll, director of operations for the Syracuse chapter of Say Yes to Education. "This program has an impact on kindergartners through fifth-graders and all the way up to the college students who are working there. Click here to read full article.

Summer book program inspires young readers and writers

By John O'Brien, The Post-Standard

Last summer, Britney Mendoza read nine books.

Education Reform panel

Britney Mendoza, 9, of Syracuse reads at the White Branch Library. (John Berry, The Post-Standard)

With three weeks left before school starts, the third-grader from Franklin Elementary School in Syracuse has already blown past that with 25 books this summer.

The difference? The city's Summer Reading Challenge. Students who enrolled in the city school district's Say Yes summer school program at six elementary schools competed for the most minutes spent reading over four weeks ending last week. Click here to read full article.

State education reform panel collects testimony in Syracuse

By Maureen Nolan, The Post-Standard

From parent to superintendent, 20 or so Central New Yorkers spoke this afternoon to a new state education commission that has the ear of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Education Reform panel

State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr., left, toured Henninger High School in May. King is a member of the New NY Education Reform Commission, which met today in Syracuse. At right, is Syracuse Superintendent Sharon Contreras, who testified at the commission hearing. (Stephen D. Cannerelli / The Post-Standard)

Parent Talina Jones, of Syracuse, suggested the commission hold informal listening sessions to hear what parents have to say and urged it to protect special education services for pre-schoolers. (Virginia Carmody, LCOC Executive Director also testified).

Cuomo created the New NY Education Reform Commission in April and charged it with a number of tasks, not the least of which are to find ways to improve student achievement and teacher performance and to examine education funding. Click here to read full article and/or click here to learn more about the work of the Commission.

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