The Southern Regional Literacy Community Planning Meeting took place on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at the South Miami- Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211 St. in Cutler Bay.
Sponsored by The Children’s Trust “Read to Learn Initiative,” the purpose of the meeting was to inform community leaders, parents and others about an urgent problem in the community. Too many children are reading well below their grade level. “Read to Learn” is a communitywide initiative with the goal that all children read at or above grade level by the third grade.
Emily Cardenas of The Children’s Trust said that there have been additional meetings in Homestead at the Philcol Williams Community Center, Little Haiti Cultural Center, Joseph Caleb Center, Overtown Youth Center and Betty Ferguson Recreational Complex, with more to follow.
“As for the Cutler Bay meeting, I would say it was a good first step in building a coalition of residents who could help launch a neighborhood-based movement to improve grade-level reading in their community,” Cardenas said. “There were parents, retired teachers, local librarians, and after-school programs at the table. Church leaders were suggested as people who were sorely needed to join future dialogues. In the coming weeks, The Children’s Trust will help bring more people from the South Miami-Dade area together again to eventually turn conversation into action at the grassroots level.”
According to The Children’s Trust, the three major reasons why children are not reading at grade level are: summer learning loss, poor school attendance and inadequate pre-school readiness. They estimate that 88 percent of the children who never graduate from high school were poor third grade readers, and that high school dropouts earn less than half of college graduates.
Sue Loyzelle, Cutler Bay Seat 2 councilmember, attended the meeting and said that the information given them was that only 53 percent of students countywide are reading at grade level by the third grade, and that in the south end of the county the number is only 26 percent.
“Some of the attendees included community representatives such as myself,” Loyzelle said. “There were Miami-Dade Public Library representatives from the South Dade Library and Palmetto Bay Library, the Girl Scouts, local school teachers, faith based representatives, local CBOs and the staff from The Children’s Trust.”
The Read To Learn Book Club is a free, monthly book club for all 3-year-olds in Miami-Dade County, funded and administered by The Children’s Trust, Miami-Dade Family Learning Partnership and Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe. All children are eligible on their third birthday to receive a free book each month, delivered to their home.