Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Taft pleads for reading tutors

Says 4th-graders can't fall behind

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Gov. Bob Taft kicked off a local literacy program Monday by asking for more tutors to help ensure that every child can read at grade level by the end of fourth grade.

        CincinnatiReads, the local component of OhioReads, is seeking 500 volunteers by October to tutor Cincinnati Public School children in grades K-4.

  To become a volunteer tutor for CincinnatiReads, the local component of OhioReads, call (513) 602-2424.
        The local program was launched as a pilot project last spring in 15 elementary schools, and grew to 20 schools during summer sessions. CincinnatiReads has about 80 tutors. The goal is to enlist enough tutors for 63 schools.

        “We're in a new world ... a world of knowledge, information and technology,” Mr. Taft told more than 50 community leaders at Mayerson Academy. “Every single day we compete against other states and other countries based on the knowledge and the learning abilities of our workers. No longer are there any good unskilled jobs out there.

        “For the first time in history, we have to expect and enable every single child to learn to a high standard ... Today's job market requires students to read, write and compute.”

        The governor acknowledged Ohio is making progress because 58 percent of students passed the reading portion of the fourth grade proficiency test. But, he said, 50,000 children didn't pass. Of those, at least 16,000 didn't even come close. One of every three fourth-graders in urban districts is in that category.

        During the 2000-01 school year, about 69 percent of CPS fourth-graders did not pass the reading portion of the test.

        Joe Trauth, community relations manager for Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Ohio/Kentucky, was inspired by Monday's meeting to find more ways to encourage employees to tutor. Fifteen are set to tutor this fall. Some got a taste of tutoring during summer school.

        “They build a relationship with the students where they just can't get enough of it. It took a couple weeks to build some trust, but then the kids start to open up. After that, the kids are waiting for us to get there, and our employees can't wait to get there.”

        Employees are allowed to tutor during work time, although some still spend personal time with the kids.

        “We're finding more and more that our employees have higher morale and think better of the company when we give back to the community,” said Doug Becker, branch manager for Coca-Cola.


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