A Tennessee initiative to boost literacy rates is in jeopardy.
The Read To Be Ready program launched in 2016 and had an ambitious goal of increasing literacy among third graders. But its popular summer camp program has officially run out of funds.
Up until last year, the program got its money through a federal grant. But that grant is no longer available, and the state has committed to fund only through this summer.
The following are excerpts from recent interviews:
Candice McQueen, former Tennessee commissioner of education, on what could happen if the summer camp is discontinued:
“I am concerned that if we don’t continue to think about summer programming and high quality professional learning coaching, and development for our teachers of reading, plus what we do in teaching preparation to get them prepare and the curriculum choices that we pursue, that we would never meet the goals that we’ve set.”
Tennessee Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn on the state’s commitment to increase literacy rates among third graders:
“We are not saying that we are ending reading and literacy programs in the state. What we are saying is that we are taking the funding that we do have, using additional funding that has been allocated in the department and building in the good work of Read To Be Ready over the last three years. It will look a little different, but it is about building on what’s working in Tennessee and you will absolutely see that as part of our planning moving forward.”
Our ongoing conversations about Tennessee politics are available in The Tri-Star State podcast. You can listen by visiting wpln.org/tristar or subscribe using your favorite podcasting app.