Winter 2016

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Page 26 of 43

ATPE NEWS 27 if we invested in quality early childhood education and parent involvement early on, it would mitigate the issues we see when kids enter school." According to Finck, economically disad- vantaged children are especially at risk for losing quality early learning development time. These children are behind before they ever walk through the school's doors. "We'll reap the investment in the long run," says Finck. The foundation published a study titled "Houston's Literacy Crisis: A Blueprint for Community Action." The study provides an in- depth look at how the cycle of illiteracy impacts communities. What is clear is that dollars invested in early childhood educa- tion would mean that Texas taxpayers would spend less money addressing the consequences of low literacy rates, including poverty, crime, and the prison system. In September, the foundation partnered with the Houston Public Library in a project called Groomed for Literacy. "We need to meet parents where they are," said Finck. "The fami- lies and children who need the library's services the most of- ten don't have the time or means to get there. But they do go to the grocery store, or see their pastor or barber each week. We talked to barbers who wanted to be mentors and promote reading, and then we funded Little Free Libraries in the bar- ber shop. Children can take a book home to read and bring one back." More than 60 Little Free Libraries will be made avail- able across Houston, and volunteers from the Friends of the Houston Public Library are working to keep them stocked. LITERACY ON CAMPUS In a similar effort, Houston ISD invested 8.5 million dollars in classroom-level libraries. Teachers are often better at un- derstanding the child's reading level and choosing appropri- ate books. Teachers can also work closely with parents to help HOUSTON CHILDREN LACK READING READINESS SKILLS WHEN ENTERING KINDERGARTEN. HOUSTON CHILDREN DO NOT MEET MINIMUM STANDARDS AT GRADE 3. HOUSTON YOUTH FAIL READING AND WRITING EXAMS REQUIRED FOR GRADUATION ON FIRST ADMINISTRATION. HOUSTON ADULTS ARE FUNCTIONALLY ILLITERATE. continued on page 40 Dr. Julie Baker Fink (right) plans to help volunteers place more than 60 Little Free Libraries at barber shops across Houston.

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