Diveristy in Friendship
by Antone R.E. Pierucci
FOR OUR CHILDREN. FOR OUR FUTURE.
CALIFORNIA MASONS’ PARTNERSHIP WITH RAISING A READER HAS BROUGHT CRUCIAL LITERACY TRAINING TO NEARLY 600 CLASSROOMS – AND WE’RE NOT CLOSE TO DONE YET!
Every day in underresourced public school classrooms throughout California, young children are struggling to read. The majority – up to 95 percent – don’t have a single book at home. For these children, the letters on the page seem foreign; what they represent is opaque. And if the children can’t achieve literacy by third grade, their chances for educational success are grim. When compared to their peers who are academically on track, impoverished children who cannot read at grade level by third grade are 13 times less likely to graduate from high school.
These alarming statistics are at the crux of the California Masonic Foundation’s partnership with Raising A Reader (RAR), a nationally recognized leader in early childhood literacy. RAR provides children with high-quality books, teaches their parents the importance of reading at home – and how to begin – and connects families with local public libraries for a lifetime of learning.
RAR works. In the 448 California classrooms that have benefitted from our partnership so far, educators have seen dramatic improvements in test scores, comprehension, and family engagement. Our RAR schools have 42 percent more students reading at grade level than those without the program – after participating just a single year.
Deborah Hoffman, a Head Start teacher who works with RAR families in the Coachella Valley, has seen this impact first hand. “When I have done home visits I have found that there’s a great need for books in the homes. With technology now, you don’t see a lot of books,” she says in a recent interview with CBS News. “This is a fabulous program.”
Recent research by United Way of the Desert corroborates her praise, noting that RAR has been able to successfully impact the region’s most economically disadvantaged students.
“I’ve had kids come back to me two or three years later and they’ll say, ‘Ms. Hoffman, I remember that book, when we read ‘Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.’ It’s like wow, I really made a difference. They remember reading those books.”
Perhaps Sabrina Hijazi, mother of an RAR student says it best: “Without reading you don’t have anything else to begin with. It’s fundamental and a building block to anything.”
California Masons are making a profound difference in the lives of families who need us most. And, by working together, we are capable of reaching so many more.