The illiteracy of our nation’s youth may have serious implications that go beyond low reading scores; research shows a link between poor reading skills and juvenile criminal behavior. The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office says that up to 85 percent of juvenile offenders have reading deficiencies and 84 percent of juvenile offenders re-enter the criminal justice system after their release. However, when juvenile offenders take part in quality reading instruction programs, recidivism rates drop by 20 percent or more.
Courts in two jurisdictions are trying to break the cycle of teen crime by using “reading interventions” as part of sentences for juvenile delinquents. Last week, Florida Circuit Judge Karen Cole, with the support of Mayor John Peyton and State Attorney Harry Shorstein, convened a group of officials to discuss implementing a reading program as part of sentencing for juvenile offenders.
The program will model a year-old initiative in San Diego, California, called the Juvenile Literacy Project. Three hundred students between the ages of 15 and 17 who are in custody at two county detention facilities are taught in small groups by reading specialists in an intensive eight-week literacy training course. A San Diego official told the Florida Times-Union that there have been significant increases on test scores, but that it’s too early to evaluate the program’s effect on recidivism.
Read the Florida Times-Union article at:
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September 29: The American High School Crisis and State Policy Solutions: Presented with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this day-long event cosponsored by the National Center of Education and the Economy and the National Governors Association brings together elected officials, leading educators, and outstanding scholars to explore strategies for leveraging high school reform on a large scale. More information is available at: http://www.ncee.org/ncee/policyforums/index.jsp
October 9: Lights On Afterschool!: A nationwide event that recognizes the critical importance of quality afterschool programs in the lives of children, their families, and their communities. The 4th annual Lights on Afterschool! celebration will rally community support for afterschool programs by shining the spotlight on innovative, high-quality afterschool programs. More information is available at:http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/loa_2003/index.cfm
During the month of August, the Alliance for Excellent Education will suspend its publication of Straight A’s: Public Education Policy and Progress. The next issue will be dated September 15.
Until that time, have a happy and safe end of the summer.