Yesterday, Literacy Inc. (LINC) leaders: Eliana Godoy (Deputy Director), Laura Walsh (Chief Program Officer), and Albania Jimenez (Senior Director of Family & Community Mobilization) joined top national policymakers, educational leaders, students, and parents at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City for the Hispanic Federation’s Annual Hispanic Education Summit. This historical summit focused on the biggest challenges Latinx children face in their K-12 and postsecondary education, and our colleagues honed in on the critical importance of early educational issues, at top of mind for many New York families at the beginning of that journey, those with children ages birth through five.
LINC’s panel Empowering Families through Early Literacy Workshops: LINC ‘s Approach to Community Powered Literacy consisted of three dynamic parts and illustrated how LINC programs transform families, who in turn transform communities, and where we can invest to create a better future for our children. The consequences of illiteracy are dire and reaching parents early is critical, so that they know how to support their children at a time when brain development takes place at an accelerated rate.
Albania shared her personal story of being a mother of two children who were not ready to read when they entered school, and how LINC’s influence not only got her girls reading at grade level but started a literacy phenomenon in her neighborhood. From reading in their own lobby, Albania and her daughters influenced neighbors in other apartment buildings and businesses; pretty soon reading circles were happening all along their avenue in Inwood. Albania has been part of LINC staff for 19 years now and her journey is a powerful testament to LINC’s unique ability to mobilize existing neighborhood resources and empower parents in supporting their child(ren). As a result, reading becomes a positive part of a family’s daily routine at home and more visible and valued in their community.
Following Albania, Laura took us through a basic lesson on the science of reading in which LINC’s workshops are rooted. Our programming is developed to increase both children’s and parents’ access to literacy-building opportunities. “We aim to raise expectations, generate an understanding of grade-level literacy skills, and provide simple reading strategies to support parents in helping their children, regardless of their own ability to read or speak English,” stated Laura. LINC’s solution is a proven community-based approach, and our workshop series highlight social/emotional relationships, convey an understanding of classroom expectations, and build on the phonetic strategies of the science of reading.
Laura’s experience working inside and outside the classroom, and with her own young ones has led her to the conviction that “we need to train teachers like doctors, to recognize reading problems and teach exactly what each student needs, the power to be diagnostic about their instruction.” Investments like these in our educational system would change a lot.
Because there is so much work that still needs to be done, Eliana highlighted a number of key areas where advocacy and advocacy would be most useful. Her policy recommendations include:
Increase Access to Affordable Quality EarlyChildhood Education - Universal 3-K
Promote data-driven policies and programs to increase workforce pipelines, professional development, and salary and benefits
Develop additional systems to support families (i.e. child tax credit)
“We can make a difference and we would be having a different conversation today if these policies were implemented,“ emphasized Eliana as she closed out the panel.
LINC operates at the intersection of education and community development by mobilizing existing neighborhood literacy resources to empower parents in supporting their child(ren), preparing them for formal instruction later on, engendering a lifelong love of reading and making literacy more visible and valued in their neighborhood. Spread the word and be part of the change.
To register for LINC’s latest workshop series, visit: www.lincnyc.org/programs.