Minnesota needs to ensure that every child in the state is given the proper tools to become a successful reader by the third grade. We know that students’ chances for success are greatly diminished if this is not achieved. That is why we have placed an emphasis on literacy at the state capitol.
Over the years, I have sponsored and supported legislation that would have required that students have the necessary reading skills by the end of second grade in order to advance on to third grade. I have also sponsored bills requiring that students stay in schools until they are 18 to finish their secondary schooling and have supported funding bills for early childhood education, teacher literacy enhancements and bipartisan programs such as the Minnesota Reading Corps, a nonprofit organization to help reinforce our schools’ efforts to promote literacy.
Our local schools along with the parents and volunteers are working to ensure that our students are successful readers by the third grade, but we need to help any way we can. One organization that has been helping in this area is the Minnesota Reading Corps.
The Minnesota Reading Corps is an AmeriCorps program that provides trained literacy tutors for children age three to grade three. Launched in 2003, it served preschool children in four Head Start agencies and is now serving in 500 Head Start programs with over 750 Minnesota Reading Corps tutors.
The program’s goal is to help every Minnesota child become a successful reader by the end of third grade. By placing AmeriCorps members as literacy tutors in sites across Minnesota, they are working to help struggling readers by implementing a research-based early literacy program. Their strategies are designed for both preschool-aged children and K–third grade students.
Thanks to the hard work of the Reading Corps, we are starting to see improvements in our children’s reading levels. According to ServeMinnesota, “Nearly 80 percent of Minnesota Reading Corps participants achieved more than a year’s worth of progress in one year’s time, exceeding state and national averages and dramatically surpassing what would have typically been expected.”
Over the past nine years the program has grown from serving 250 children to about 20,000 and it is continuing to grow. If you would like to help in this process, the Reading Corps currently seeking 1,000 literacy tutors. An application can be found at http://www.minnesotareadingcorps.org/. The website also provides donation information.
I would like to give a big thank you to my mom and dad for reading to me as a kid. As former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy once said, “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” My education started at home with my parents reading to me at a very early age. I encourage parents and grandparents to read to their children every chance they get.
As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions about any issue. Please visit my Senate website at senate.mn/senatorwiger. I also encourage you to visit me at the capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment. Also, please tune in to my local cable TV show, “Your Capitol: What’s Up?,” which appears on public access channels 15 and 16.