As part of the exciting series Reading for Life, Foundations’ President and CEO Rhonda H. Lauer shares her expertise and insights about grade level reading. Join Ms. Lauer as she offers key viewpoints and commentary based on her extensive experience working across the country to give our children and young people the educational opportunities they deserve.
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s 2011 Leadership Forum. This year’s Forum – Learning from Hollywood: Can Entertainment Media Ignite an Education Revolution? – was held in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Along with other educators, I joined with leaders from the entertainment industry, technology, research, policy, and philanthropy, to explore new ways to support young people’s learning with and through media.
Kids of all ages, even preschoolers, love electronic and digital media: video games, the Apple i’s (Pod, Phone, Touch, Pad), television, computers. As I noted in an earlier blog, youth spend, on average, more than 7 ½ hours a day, seven days a week, interacting with media. That’s a lot of time. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center and the 2011 Leadership Forum embrace this youthful affinity for technology and seek to use it for good, to enhance literacy and learning.
This year, a special focus of the Forum was identifying how the creative media industries, so skilled at reaching and engaging young people, can help drive educational change on a larger scale. The panel that I moderated, which included senior executives from One Economy, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, LA’s Best and other notable organizations, addressed the community-level infrastructure required to support children’s learning with digital media. Panelists shared related challenges, best practices, and success stories.
At Foundations, we understand that widespread, lasting change – that brightens the future for underserved children and youth – requires innovation and the kind of collective power I witnessed at the 2011 Leadership Forum. In America’s public schools, 68% of fourth graders and 70% of eighth graders cannot read at grade level. Clearly, one of the best ways to brighten a child’s future is by teaching him or her how to read.
The Joan Ganz Cooney Center is on the right track and ahead of the curve. We need to collaborate with the entertainment and creative media industries to help solve our country’s literacy crisis. They are essential partners in finding a solution. Why? Because they already have something we, as educators, don’t have… the undivided attention of our nation’s youth.