---------- "Each generation has a duty to teach the next the skills it will need to deal with the
challenges and opportunities that it will face. The Times has committed itself to work with parents, teachers and volunteers to ensure that all children in greater Los Angeles read in English by the third grade."
Mark Willes and Michael Parks Publisher and Editor, L.A. Times ----------
Sadly, many children throughout this country are making it through the educational system without the reading skills they need to succeed or simply support themselves. Studies show that individuals who cannot read or struggle with reading are more likely to drop out of school, get into drugs, live in poverty and go to prison. They are less likely to acquire stable jobs and more likely to feel hopelessness, humiliation and distress.
Removing the barrier of illiteracy makes room for a life of opportunity and promise. To address this need, the L.A. Times has launched a 5-year initiative called "Reading by 9" to improve children's reading skills. Mark Willes, publisher of the Times, calls the program "an urgent and massive effort to improve our children's reading skills and improve their - and our - chances for future success."
"Reading by 9" was prompted by reports that two-thirds of third graders in the Los Angeles area failed to achieve grade-level reading during the Spring of 1998. The L.A. Times is committed to spending a minimum of $5 million and 5 years working with the community to build and implement an effective program. This initiative is based on four main components: Times Editorial Coverage, Corporate Sponsorships, Volunteers, and Times in Education.
Times Editorial Coverage
The L.A. Times is committed to making the "Reading by 9" initiative and the challenge of literacy an everyday part of the paper. In addition to ongoing news and features covering the issues, The Kids' Reading Room premiered November 1. This Sunday-through-Friday feature in the Living section includes interactive educational components for both parents and children.
The Times is leading the Corporate Sponsorship effort by investing more than $5 million in resources and cash and encouraging individual staff volunteers to get involved. Additional corporate sponsors are urged to commit human and financial resources. Money raised will be used to purchase books, pay for tutor training, fund existing reading programs and publicize the Reading by 9 program.
Willes and Parks of the LA Times issued a letter to the community as a "Call to Action" for Southern California. The LA Times has enlisted organizations from both the public and private sectors to work as partners in this widespread community effort. Since already overloaded teachers and school administrators cannot do it alone, businesses, service organizations, community groups, existing literacy programs and individual volunteers will join the LA Times to realize the program's goals. Volunteers will be trained by representatives from local reading and literacy programs and will spend one to two hours a week tutoring at targeted elementary schools.
Times in Education
An existing program, "Times in Education," provides more than 7 million newspapers to more than 750,000 students and 20,000 teachers annually. The newspaper also provides teacher training and instructional resources for kindergarten through adult education classes. The newspaper will expand the "Times in Education" program as part of "Reading by 9."
To read about other Early Literacy Programs and Initiatives, check out these sites: