We are reminded every day in newspaper and on television that America is divided. Our different beliefs and opinions often drive a wedge between us. But, we are faced with an opportunity that can unite us: Our children’s ability to succeed and achieve.
We all want to provide opportunities for real achievement for our children. We would be hard pressed to find anyone who would disagree with that notion.
The overarching goal of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is to increase the number of children reading proficiently by the end of third grade. The statistics show us that children from low-income families often fall behind their more affluent peers. Currently, almost 30 percent of students in Sarasota County and 49 percent of students in Manatee County are not yet reading proficiently by the end of third grade.
We realize the path to our goal is not a straight line and there is no one answer or program that will bring us success. The truth is there are programs currently in place that are helping many students. There are parents and concerned citizens volunteering time in area schools and dedicated teachers striving each day to make a difference. Our library systems are vibrant with many opportunities for family literacy, and many businesses currently donate time and money to our local schools. All of this great work, and still we have thousands of children who are not yet performing at level.
The job of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is to help our community catch the children who are falling through the cracks. It’s about our ability to work together to weave a net across all sectors so our regions’ children will have the tools they need to climb the ladder of opportunity. We are interested in identifying and reducing the barriers to student success and strengthening the desire across all sectors to find and implement community solutions. This is something we can all get behind, resulting in a stronger community for all of us.