March 2, 2022
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Celebrates Read Across America Day and Announces Support for Literacy Legislation
SACRAMENTO—As part of a celebration of Read Across America Day, State Superintendent Tony Thurmond yesterday visited Jordan Academy of Language and Computer Science in Orange, Calif., to read to students. Superintendent Thurmond today also partnered with Assemblymember Mia Bonta to introduce Assembly Bill (AB) 2465, a bill that would establish a grant program for community literacy and education enrichment through partnerships between schools and community-based organizations.
Superintendent Thurmond read “Say Something!” by Peter H. Reynolds after discussing the importance of literacy with students. Read Across America Day is an annual reading and awareness program of the National Education Association, which calls for schools and parents across the country to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss.
“Reaching literacy by third grade has long been a goal of California schools and a key benchmark in measuring and predicting student success,” said Thurmond. “We already know that when students learn to read, they can read to learn anything, and we also know that when students don’t learn to read by third grade, they are at greater risk to drop out of school, and end up in the criminal justice system. More than 70 percent of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level. That needs to stop, and there’s no better time than now—while we’re focused on transforming California’s educational system—to ensure all California students reach literacy goals.”
“As the foundation for future educational success, literacy is the key to equity,” said Assemblymember Bonta. “This legislation will mitigate barriers to book access, support teacher recruitment and retention, and engage families and community in improving literacy and biliteracy outcomes. The intention is to advance literacy for all of California’s children.”
Low-income children often have limited access to books. AB 2465 will mitigate this barrier to literacy by creating a competitive grant program which local educational agencies, library districts, and public libraries will be able to apply to in order to increase access to library cards for public school pupils. The bill would also create a program to help local educational agencies add resources to their libraries.
AB 2465 also supports bilingual and multilingual learners and educators by establishing a Family Literacy Innovation Project to engage families and communities to improve literacy and biliteracy outcomes. It would also create a program to improve career pathways for bilingual and multilingual educators. These provisions are significant considering that nearly 60 percent of California’s children speak a language other than English at home.
As part of ongoing literacy efforts to ensure students can read by third grade by 2026, State Superintendent Thurmond has been working to expand the use of California libraries by pledging to help 100,000 students get their first library cards by 2026 and working to secure and provide books to students and families in need. A partnership with Renaissance Learning, Inc. allowing California public school students to access free digital books from December 1 to February 28, resulted in more than 5 million books read and 277,000 books in Spanish read—showing that when kids have access, they will read.
AB 2465 is sponsored by the California Department of Education and informed by recommendations from State Superintendent Thurmond’s Literacy Task Force. Read the full text of the bill on the California Legislature’s AB 2465 web page .
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100