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    ILA's Children's Rights to Read Pledge Hits 1,000 Signatures

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Dec 13, 2018

    rightstoreadMore than 1,000 individuals and organizations, representing over 50 countries; 30 organizations; 20 schools, districts, and universities; and 175,000 students, have pledged support to the International Literacy Association’s Children’s Rights to Read initiative. The global movement focuses on making sure that every child has access to the education, opportunities, and resources needed to read. 

    Supporters have pledged to enact ILA's Children's Rights to Read—ten fundamental rights ILA asserts that every child deserves. The yearlong campaign will focus on activating educators, policymakers, and literacy partners to join ILA in their efforts to raise awareness of these Rights, with the long-term goal of ensuring every child has access to the education, opportunities, and resources needed to read. 

    “Exceeding 1,000 supporters demonstrates the momentum and unity around our vision of literacy for all,” says ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “Now we’re focused on channeling this momentum into action.”

    Organizations that have signed the pledge include Child Smile Liberia, Kids Own Australian Literature Awards Inc., Poetry Ireland, Taiwan Reading Association, American Eagle Institute, DisruptED, and British Virgin Islands Reading Council. Individual supporters span a wide spectrum of ages, backgrounds, professions, and expertise. More than 50 countries are represented overall.

    “I commend the efforts of ILA for igniting the flame of such a critical movement,” says Stephen G. Peters, superintendent of Laurens County School District 55 and current ILA Board member. “[It] will create multiple pathways for success for millions of children across the world.”

    As part of the ongoing campaign, ILA will be developing and distributing practical resources that educators can use to enact these Rights in their classrooms, schools, and communities. The first, The Case for Children’s Rights to Read, is available now.

    Visit literacyworldwide.org/rightstoread to download the Children’s Rights to Read, available in eight languages, and sign the pledge in support.

    Alina O'Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    ILA Now Accepting Proposals for ILA Intensive: Nevada

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Dec 11, 2018
    ILA Intensive: Nevada

    ILA is accepting session abstracts for ILA Intensive: Nevada, a two-day professional learning event focused on recognizing and addressing biases in literacy instruction, now through December 18.

    Designed and delivered by literacy educators, Intensives offer more personal, in-depth, and hands-on learning experiences where participants will learn the latest research and strategies while connecting and networking with like-minded practitioners.

    The upcoming Intensive, taking place June 21–22, 2019, in Las Vegas, NV, is designed to help educators create classroom and school environments that are diverse, inclusive, affirming, and culturally sensitive.

    ILA encourages abstract submissions that provide attendees with practical skills and tools they can immediately apply in their practice. Submissions should demonstrate a clear connection to the theme of Equity and Access to Literacy; highlight current research and best practices; and include participatory elements. Please review the submission guidelines for more detailed instructions for abstract submission.

    All presenters are responsible for their ILA Intensive: Nevada registration fees and any expenses associated with the presentation, including attendance at the event. Note that due to the small size of the program and the interactive format of this event, the selection process will be highly competitive.

    Click here to learn more about ILA Intensive: Nevada. For questions related to the event or the abstract submission process, contact intensives@reading.org.

    Alina O’Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    ILA Helps Recruit Support for Detroit Literacy Lawsuit Appeal

    By Colleen Patrice Clark
     | Dec 04, 2018
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    The widely anticipated appeal in the Detroit literacy lawsuit tossed out by a judge last June—the first case in the United States to assert that literacy is a constitutional right—was filed last week.

    The appeal was filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In addition, multiple amicus curiae briefs were filed in support—most notably one signed by the International Literacy Association (ILA) and several other influential leaders in the education space.

    In fact, it was ILA and Kappa Delta Pi, both early supporters of the case, that helped recruit this latest round of backers with an assist from the Advocates for Literacy Coalition. There are now 17 organizations attaching their name to the amicus brief, including the National Council of Teachers of English and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

    The purpose of the amicus brief: to not only request that the court reverse its earlier decision to dismiss the case, but also to highlight the multiple deficiencies the filers have found that they agree are “plausible allegations” against the defendants—the governor of Michigan and multiple education officials.

    “We have long argued that literacy is a human right and therefore should be regarded as a constitutional right,” says Bernadette Dwyer, president of the Board of ILA. “We vowed to continue our support, and we’re happy to sign on to the appellate amicus brief in what may well turn out to be a landmark case.”

    The federal class action lawsuit, dubbed Gary B. v. Snyder, was initially filed in 2016 on behalf of Detroit Public Schools students. Its main claim is that access to effective literacy instruction is a civil right under the U.S. Constitution, and that the state of Michigan, along with education officials, have failed to deliver on that right. The argument is that, because of unsafe conditions, a lack of resources, an unprepared teacher pool, and curriculum without a strong evidence base, Detroit students have been denied access to even minimum standards in literacy education.

    When the judge dismissed the case earlier this year, he stated that literacy is of “incalculable importance,” but the plaintiffs failed not only to prove it fundamental but also to prove deliberate actions by the defendants that have led to these conditions.

    Both this new amicus brief and the appeal detail accounts ranging from improperly trained teachers to unrepaired bullet holes, not enough desks and chairs to outdated reading materials, and a rampant rodent problem to broken heating systems.

    These “concrete barriers,” the brief asserts, are the result of failure on the state’s part.

    “The fact that the students in Detroit schools severely lag behind their peers in their literacy scores is a direct and unmistakable consequence of the state’s failure to provide the safe, nurturing environment that experts have identified as a necessary ingredient for learning,” the brief states.

    Although the U.S. Supreme Court has never declared literacy to be a constitutional right, it opened the door for a future ruling by commenting in the 1973 case San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez that some “identifiable quantum of education”—some small piece—might be a constitutionally protected prerequisite to the meaningful exercise of other legal rights.

    It is argued that basic literacy is that “identifiable quantum,” the indispensable skill required to exercise the First Amendment and other rights.

    “[We] have also seen firsthand both the great benefits that public education provides to students as well as the devastating consequences that students suffer when their education systems fail,” the brief states. “Denial of access to literacy has cascading effects on students that can disadvantage them throughout their lives.”

    The following organizations have signed the amicus brief with ILA: American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, Association for Middle Level Education, Association of Teacher Educators, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Creative Change Educational Solutions, Educational Leaders Without Borders, International Council of Professors of Educational Leadership, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Association for Multicultural Education, National Association for Professional Development Schools, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Collaborative for Digital Equity, National Council for the Social Studies, National Council of Teachers of English, School Social Work Association of America, and Teaching for Change.

    In addition, multiple other entities and organizations filed their own amicus briefs last week, including the city of Detroit, the Detroit Public Schools Community District, the ACLU of Michigan, and the American Federation of Teachers.

    “This is a case that has the potential to improve the lives of students in Detroit and beyond,” says Dan Mangan, ILA’s director of Public Affairs. “What they are doing isn’t just about their school system. They are fighting for literacy to be a constitutionally mandated right for every child, everywhere, regardless of zip code. ILA is proud to stand among the multiple organizations in this brief that are urging the court to reverse its decision and see this case move forward.”

    Colleen Patrice Clark is the editor of Literacy Today, ILA’s member magazine.

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    Michigan State Board of Education Incorporates ILA’s Standards 2017 Into New Teacher Preparation Standards

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Nov 29, 2018
    pd-with-technology

    Last week, the Michigan State Board of Education approved new teacher preparation standards for lower elementary (pre-K–3) and upper elementary (3–6) education, making it the first state to formally incorporate ILA’s Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals 2017 (Standards 2017).

    ILA’s Standards 2017 are the first-ever set of national standards guiding the preparation of literacy professionals. Drafted by a team of 28 literacy experts from across the United States, and led by project cochairs Rita M. Bean, University of Pittsburgh, PA, and Diane E. Kern, University of Rhode Island, the updated standards describe what candidates for the literacy profession should know and be able to do in professional settings, integrating research-based promising practices, professional wisdom and feedback from various stakeholders during public comment periods.

    Since 2015, third-grade reading scores have seen the largest decline in a subject area in the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress’s three-year history. According to the Michigan Department of Education, the percentage of Michigan third graders passing the English language arts test—which measures reading, writing, listening and language—dropped to 44.1% in 2017, compared with 50% in 2015.

    In an interview published by WKAR, Nell K. Duke, a professor in literacy, language and culture and the combined program in education and psychology at the University of Michigan and a past member of ILA’s Literacy Research Panel, identified teacher preparation as one of the major keys to successful literacy reform.

    “Michigan is not where we want it to be in terms of literacy achievement, and so we’re looking for all different ways to try to address that issue,” she said. “One of the ways we can address it is by trying to have our teachers as well prepared as possible to teach reading and other literacy skills.”

    Stakeholders representing pre-K–12 teachers and administrators, college and university teacher educators and education researchers began meeting in October 2016 to revise elementary education teacher preparation standards to better meet the unique learning needs of students at each grade level. The elementary teacher preparation standards were the first set of standards selected for review and revision due to an expressed focus on early literacy.

    Sean Kottke, manager of the Educator Preparation Unit of the Michigan Department of Education, says Michigan stakeholders are already working to incorporate Standards 2017 into the 5–9 and 7–12 grade bands as well as the state’s standards for reading specialists.

    ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post congratulated Michigan on becoming a national leader in adopting the standards.

    “We are thrilled to see Michigan leading the way in adopting the standards,” she said. “This is a powerful mark of their commitment to continuous improvement.”  

    Learn more about ILA’s Standards 2017 here.

    Alina O'Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily.

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    Board Nominations Due December 20

    By Alina O'Donnell
     | Nov 21, 2018
    BoardElection_w300

    Are you a passionate individual wanting to use your skills to advance literacy? Know someone who is? ILA members are invited to recommend a colleague or nominate themselves for consideration to serve on the ILA Board of Directors.

    The Nominating Committee seeks committed and capable candidates from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, experiences, professions, perspectives, and areas of expertise. Vital to the organization’s long-term success and financial health, nominees should be individuals who are dedicated to achieving ILA objectives, which include actively promoting ILA’s mission; ensuring effective organization planning; participating in all Board activities; and maintaining adequate resources.

    Nominees with nonprofit experience, financial background, and literacy expertise will help round out the skill set that current members bring to the Board. Ideal candidates will have experience in leadership, strategic planning, and recruitment.

    Board members are asked to serve a three-year term (2019–2022) and should plan to spend at least 50 hours a year on ILA activities, excluding travel. Meetings are conducted face to face and virtually. Each Board member is expected to serve on one or more committees or task forces.

    Learn more about serving on ILA's Board of Directors, as well as how to nominate yourself or a colleague for one of the open positions, by downloading this guide. You can submit a nomination for yourself or a colleague until December 20.

    Alina O’Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily.

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