“The most important thing we can do”

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classroom readingEarlier this week (March 2—Dr. Seuss’s birthday!), classrooms and libraries around the country celebrated Read Across America Day.

President Obama stated in his Read Across America Day proclamation that “as a Nation, one of our greatest responsibilities is to ensure every American child can experience the transformative power of reading. Literacy is the gateway to all other learning, and it is the most basic building block of opportunity in an economy increasingly built on knowledge and innovation.”

At Innovations for Learning, we agree wholeheartedly. Education is the key to breaking the cycle of long-term poverty that lasts for generations, and learning to read is the critical first step that we need to ensure all of our nation’s children achieve, without exception. We know that students who don’t learn to read in first grade are highly susceptible to larger setbacks as they grow older; they’re more likely to struggle throughout their school years, fail to graduate from high school, and become enmeshed in the criminal justice system. So we see our nation’s promise of equal opportunity diminished for millions of students who fail to learn to read proficiently in their first years of school.

Our partners at the Denver Public Schools Foundation recently quoted Colorado Senator Michael Bennet on this topic as well: “All of us have different policy issues we focus on, but in my mind if you want to cure this problem of poverty in our country, the way to do that is by making sure that people can read when they’re in the first grade. That’s the most important thing we can do.”

Through our early literacy instruction programs, Innovations for Learning works with nearly 10,000 students in many of the nation’s largest urban school districts, giving those children a greater opportunity to succeed. We believe that helping young students learn to read is vital, and we’re grateful to the educators, and to our many partners and tutors, who also dedicate their time and effort to this most important work.

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