A report released last week has reinforced that the reading improvement program that has been part of the federal No Child Left Behind law has been awash in cronyism and conflicts of interest.
That reading program is called Reading First. I have no first-hand experience with it; I don't know if the city school where I volunteer uses it or not. But, boy, is the news infuriating. The program involves $5 billion in grants.
On a lighter note, two of my reading buddies at the Maple Street School think the cheerful picture book Green as a Bean is grand. Karla Kuskin's imaginative poem, featuring sunny new illustrations by Melissa Iwai, captured their imagination. ("If you could be soft / would you be the snow / or twenty-five pillows / or breezes that blow...") Whenever a book gets students talking directly to it, I consider that a success. One of the children even had to go show Green as a Bean to his teacher and tell her proudly, "I read this book!"
It's such fun being with children who are learning to read, and there are students in every school who could use a little extra help. If you've ever thought of volunteering, start now. Even this close to the end of the academic year, many schools would welcome volunteers. I just love it. The experience is priceless.