Last week, CLI Executive Director, Kelly Hunter, Ed.D, had the opportunity to speak on radio station 900 AM Wurd for part of an eight part series titled “Excellence and Equity: Public Education in the 21st Century”, examining the goals, challenges, successes and direction of public education with a focus on urban education.
The “Parents’ Guide to Excellence and Equity: The Early Years” segment focused on the basics of childhood development, including how many words a student should know by kindergarten and other cognitive factors that impact learning. Dr. Aisha Raye of the Erickson Institute Graduate School of Childhood Development was featured on the program as well.
Hunter defined “literacy” as the ability to read, write and think critically in order to operate in daily life. She further detailed that in order to be literate in other subjects such as finance, and computers, etc. one needs to be able to read, write and comprehend. Hunter went on to explain to radio host, Sandra Dungee Glenn, that in order for children to meet this essential benchmark of reading by the end of 3rd grade it is important to focus on early reading skills. When a student does not meet the benchmark of reading by the end of 3rd grade there is decreased lifetime learning, increased poverty, crime and low graduation rates. Additionally, kindergarten through 3rd grade is a pivotal point for learning to read vs. using reading to learn.
Here at CLI, we know that teachers are the number one in school factor to decrease the language gap overtime and ensure achievement. During the program Hunter emphasized that CLI Model Classrooms are literature rich environments that help students become independent learners. Through CLI’s work, teachers are able to develop knowledge and practice to build on their strengths and learn from each other. Additionally Hunter explained that CLI works with teachers, principals and families. She stressed that it is not just about giving teachers “resources” it is giving teachers the skills they need to be able to use the resources to engage the students. Hunter concluded by urging families to engage children at home beyond just reading to them. It is important to integrate literacy into everyday life by putting vocabulary on the refrigerator, going to the library and even writing stories together.