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Governor signs a critical reading bill, and a new partnership starts

Signing formal agreement at Alhambra School District to launch Every Child Reads Program.

Big win for struggling readers

We’re excited to let you know that HB2520, a bill to strengthen existing reading policies, was signed this week by Governor Ducey. We are especially grateful to Representative Coleman for sponsoring this bill and fighting for our students. This is one of our top priorities, and we’re glad that the legislature agreed that helping struggling readers is critical.

We’re also happy that they saw early literacy as a worthy investment. Next year, schools with high percentages of students in poverty will receive $12 million in targeted early literacy funding – up from $8 million this year.

Reading matters because, by fourth grade, a child should be reading to learn, not learning to read. Despite its importance, only 56% of students are reading at grade level.

HB 2520 will improve existing reading policies by requiring those seeking a K-8 teaching certificate to complete three credit hours of reading instruction. It also updates the way students are taught based on the latest research and adds accountability and transparency to the early literacy funding.

This legislative session drew a lot of attention to the issues of school funding and teacher pay. While those important conversations happened, we’re pleased that other needed steps were taken to help kids read.

New partnership with Alhambra Elementary School District to improve student outcomes

Earlier this month, we signed a formal agreement to launch our new Every Child Reads program at the Alhambra Elementary School District. This is a research-based family engagement program that empowers parents with the skills and knowledge they need to support their child's learning and prepare them to succeed after graduation.

This program will collaboratively work with school districts to:

  1. Educate and encourage parents to enroll their children in high-quality, full-day kindergarten programs.
  2. Share critical information with parents about the English Language Learners law, how it works, what their options are, and how they can provide support.
  3. Reduce chronic absenteeism rates because if kids aren’t in school, they aren’t learning.
  4. Improve literacy through Every Child Reads at Home, a simple and effective family reading program.

We are excited to launch this program in Alhambra, and we look forward to partnering with more school districts!

Our take on this legislative session

Now that the dust has settled, we can take a moment to look back at the most recent legislative session. It was a mix of victories and setbacks for our students and teachers. While we saw huge crowds at the Capitol and secured additional funding for early literacy programs, we also came up short at helping 83,000 ELL students with a bipartisan bill.

Click here to read our five takeaways from this legislative session.

Quotes from the trenches

“Over the last three years, Alhambra Elementary School District has had the benefit of partnering with Stand for Children Arizona. Over that period they have engaged parents on our behalf, brought much-needed resources to our community, and have been an overall positive asset for our school district.”

— Mark Yslas, Alhambra Superintendent

“This legislative session we worked together to accomplish big things and support Arizona’s top priorities. We set goals and achieved them, made promises and kept them – working on a bipartisan basis to grow and enrich the state of Arizona. I'm grateful to the Arizona lawmakers and the citizens who engaged in the process to help make this a productive session.”
— Governor Doug Ducey

We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s In The Trenches. Although the legislative session is over, many things are still happening. If you have any questions, let us know.

Warmly, Rebecca, Stacey, Luis, Martin, Liliana and Mia
The Stand for Children Arizona Team
In order to fulfill our mission, Stand for Children, Inc., our 501(c)4 organization, performs all advocacy and lobbying activities while the Stand for Children Leadership Center, our 501(c)3 organization, manages our parent and family education and engagement programs as well as Stand’s public awareness campaigns.
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