We had the preview story, now we have the rollout story about the efforts by the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation to tackle the problem of illiteracy.
The nascent campaign to improve Houstonians’ reading skills got a $300,000 kick-start Thursday from the federal agency that oversees community service.
The three-year grant will fund 15 workers to assist the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, which is spearheading a local reading improvement effort.
Wendy Spencer, who leads the Corporation for National and Community Service in Washington, D.C., held up a brown cowboy boot as she announced the grant.
“We are going to stamp out illiteracy and we’re gonna put boots on the ground,” Spencer said.
The year-old foundation so far has raised about $2 million and has distributed several grants, paying for training for volunteers and books for children.
The foundation has not detailed the cost of its plan or explained how it would be funded, though officials are hoping for some donations from businesses as well as to reallocate money agencies may be spending now on literacy efforts.
Despite numerous city and school district reading programs, roughly one in five Houston adults lacks basic literacy skills, as do tens of thousands of local schoolchildren.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker said she expects the campaign will unite and improve efforts to combat illiteracy.
“We have a very robust after-school program. We have a robust summer reading program,” Parker said. “But we can do a lot of great work and still fail.”
Across the country, more than 140 communities, including Houston, have signed onto a national effort called Campaign for Grade Level Reading, a push to ensure students read proficiently by the end of third grade.
See here for the background. My brief thoughts on this are as follows: One, illiteracy and a large number of schoolkids reading below grade level are major problems, and the Bush Foundation is doing the Lord’s work in trying to ameliorate them. Two, I still haven’t seen their report. Three, I’ve asked around but I still don’t know what if any interaction they will have with HISD or other school districts on this. And four, anything that can get Barbara Bush to wear eye-black and shoulder pads has to be good for something. That’s all I’ve got.