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Kathleen Wallace

Introductory Writing Assignment

Turn the Page KC
I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to be illiterate. I learned to read at
such a young age that I can't recall life before literacy, and I can't remember ever having to
"work" to read. I am lucky. For many of the children in our community, especially those living in
poverty, reading, and by association learning, are challenges that never get overcome. In 2011,
the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, Sly James, began the Turn the Page KC initiative with the
goal of having all Kansas City third graders reading at or above grade level by 2017. In 2014, the
organization gained non-profit status. At the time of the program's inception, research indicated
that less than 40% of Kansas City third-graders were at their intended reading level. The program
features a four-step plan for increasing literacy and comprehension levels in schools; "summer
learning, school attendance, school readiness, and community engagement" (Turn the Page KC
1-3). The coupling of these four platforms with community volunteer reading mentors is, in my
opinion, a strong formula that will lead to positive results. I am passionate about this
organization and its mission because I feel that quality education is a basic human right, not a
privilege, that the potential for reaching this goal is already present given our understanding of
child development, and that the negatives of illiteracy will hamper the future growth and
productivity of our community.
I believe every child should have an opportunity to reach their full learning potential.
Gigantic improvements have been made in the educational field over the past fifty years- even
the past twenty. While many aspects of the system may be flawed, the research to promote and
the resources to enable a developmentally-appropriate, differentiated, and effective learning
environment are in existence. With this in mind, there is no excuse for why any child does not

reach an appropriate reading level. According to the organizations website, under the page
Community Members, the goal of Turn the Page KC is to get every child to reach the gradeappropriate reading level by the third grade. Their justification is that, third grade is the
critical turning point where a student pivots from learning to read to reading to learn. I
appreciate the organization's understanding of this shift. Many times, educators teaching students
struggling with reading are focused on the mechanics of reading; sounding out words, blending
sounds, understanding punctuation, etc, without also focusing on the importance of reading
I consider literacy to be one of the most vital skills a person needs to be able to provide
for themselves in our society. The effects of illiteracy extend well into adulthood and can cause
serious problems for the individual and the greater society. According to Sarah Poff Roman,
illiterate members of society, especially adults, experience poorer health outcomes, less
financial security, and lower life expectancies compared to the overall population (Roman 81).
It is difficult enough for children to be successful in school with a low literacy level, but to know
that the rest of the child's life can be affected by simply not learning how to read is harrowing.
There are plenty of organizations like Turn the Page throughout the country and
throughout the world. Additionally, there are plenty of organizations that promote literacy
alongside other agenda items (The National Educators Association, for example). What makes
Turn the Page KC unique is its proximity to our community. I am a believer that real change
comes from a ripple effect- helping those most in need around you first and then expanding when
progress is seen. Hopefully, the message and work done by Turn the Page will inspire our larger
community to work towards ensuring that all children are able to experience the joys that come
alongside literacy.

Works Cited
"Community Members." Turn the Page KC. City of Kansas City, Missouri, 2015. Web. 6 June
Roman, Sarah Poff. "Illiteracy and Older Adults: Individual and Societal Implications."
Educational Gerontology 30 (2004): 79-93. Brunner-Routledge. Web.
Turn the Page KC. U.S. Conference of Mayors' Educational Excellence Task Force, n.d. 1-3,
PDF. 6 June 2015.