Keep young readers turning pages in Kansas City
The Kansas City Star
The path to improved literacy and academic success is tiled with every page that’s turned, every book that’s read. Mayor Sly James understands that and is committed to getting all kindergarten through third-grade children in Kansas City excited about reading.
James’ “Turn the Page Kansas City” initiative is just a year old, but already it has attracted national attention and nearly $100,000 in grants. The goal is admirable: Get all of the city’s children reading at grade level by third grade.
It’s no small feat. One study found that two-thirds of the third-graders in Kansas City’s 11 public school districts and charter schools failed to score at a proficient reading level in 2011.
Turn the Page is out to change that. James has seated a board of directors to oversee the program. The grants will help provide funding.
Kansas City was among eight cities picked nationally for a one-year Cities of Service grant through the Bloomberg Foundation, and financed by the Target Corp. That $40,000 award will help train volunteers and measure their results.
Turn the Page also picked up a three-year, $50,000 grant from the AmeriCorps VISTA national service program.
Testing is essential. Of about 2,400 students in the program this summer, 81 percent improved their reading scores a half a grade level. Getting kids excited about reading by the end of third grade helps them become lifelong learners.
James’ initiative is well-timed and sorely needed. It could become a model for other mayors to copy.