||Schofield Hall 218|
||Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004|
America Reads Program In Place|
At UW-Eau Claire
MAILED: July 20, 1998|
In the fall of 1996, President Bill Clinton encouraged universities to use part of their work study allocations to help reach his goal to have all children read well and individually by the end of the third grade.
The program became known as America Reads.
Though participation in the program was not mandatory, many universities committed themselves to the project. UW-Eau Claire was one of them.
In February 1997, Dale H. Johnson, student services coordinator, and Stephen Kurth, associate dean of the School of Education, began work with former Eau Claire School District Superintendent Lee Hansen on the program.
By September, six UW-Eau Claire students were placed in three district elementary schools. It was a success. By the end of the academic year, a fourth school and four more university students had been added.
"We're hoping to expand to as many local schools as we can with as many UW-Eau Claire students as is feasible to work with," Johnson said.
University students must be eligible for federal work study to qualify and are recommended to the elementary schools by UW-Eau Claire. Johnson said the schools interview and make the final decisions on university participants.
UW-Eau Claire pays 100 percent of the student wages, spending roughly $6,000 in work study allocations for 10 America Reads university students in 1997-98.
"It is a win-win situation for university students as well as elementary schools," Johnson said. "It is another method to help students who have been targeted as needing reading assistance."
Sue McIntyre, department chair of curriculum and instruction, is on the recommendation committee and refers student candidates to Johnson.
"We identify students who would like to be certified in elementary education," McIntyre said. "We value experience with children prior to admission in the [education] program ... we look for students with prior experience working with children and who show enthusiasm to work with children."
After the university students are selected by the individual schools, they meet the family of the elementary student with whom they will be working, McIntyre said.
America Reads is geared toward low-income elementary students, primarily those from minority or diverse backgrounds, McIntyre said.
"It's a wonderful experience for both the elementary education pre-program student and for the learner _ particularly at a time when our kindergarten-12 population of students in Wisconsin is becoming more diverse," she said.
There also has been a shift in recent years in expenditures of money for areas of additional educational help, McIntyre said. Formerly, a great deal of money was spent to allow adults to return to school for more education later in life. That money now is used for development in preschool children and other youth.
"Nine out of 10 males in prison do not have a high school diploma," McIntyre said. "This is a difference of spending $1 on a child in first grade or $100,000 at a later time.
"Low-income children have the most potential for not doing well later in life. This is an additional opportunity for youngsters to read and write early. You can make more change at an early age than at a later time in life."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: July 20, 1998