College President Judith Shapiro Speaks on Literacy
measures would you take to increase literacy in our nation?
issue in our society is not the lack of good programs to promote
literacy; there are many effective programs and methods. What
is lacking is the social will to provide sufficient financial
resources to support schools in implementing these programs.
It seems that a serious gap between rhetoric and reality exists
on the political level. The current administration, for example,
promotes the No Child Left Behind initiative as the solution
to the achievement gap, but comes nowhere near providing the
funding that could make a substantial difference. The same
is evident on the local level; New York State passed a bill
to reduce class size that cannot be implemented because of
a lack of funds to support it. Yet at both the state and national
levels, schools are being held accountable for improvements
in educational outcomes, including literacy, without the means
to implement genuine change.
2: Do you think these efforts should be made at a national
or local level?
goals and resources should be provided at the national level
without micromanaging their implementation. The local level
should provide professional development support for teachers
and resources to support literacy programs. This should include
small class size, and books and materials that contribute to
a language-rich school and classroom environment.
3: Can you give an example of a successful program or do
you have a program to implement?
Anne Bell, Director of the Barnard Department of Education
than name a particular program, because there is no one program
that meets the needs of all children, I would like to list
a few components that make a good program: in the early grades
a combination of whole language and phonics in context; exciting
reading materials; adults reading to children and modeling
the value of reading; frequent speaking and listening opportunities
for children; daily writing integrated into ongoing classroom
activities; and a small enough class size so that the teacher
is able to determine students’ strengths and weaknesses to
scaffold learning and build on what students already know.
The place to start is in the early grades, grades one through
three, since it is known that children who are not reading
by third grade often stay behind for the rest of their school
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