Save Our School Appeal from LA Family Literacy Program

Press release dated May 22, 2014

Save Our School!

 LA families protest impending closure of renowned parent-child education program

Only days are left to save a nationally renowned parent and child education program that has helped lift Los Angeles families out of illiteracy and poverty for more than a dozen years.

“This is the last chance to save something that is a treasure of public education in our city,” said Patricia Bauer, spokesperson for the Save Our School (SOS) Appeal.

“This is an inspiring program that changes lives and provides the taxpayers with superb value for money,” she said. “Everyone in Los Angeles benefits from this program. Dedicated educators have developed a network of centers that are helping hundreds of families achieve the American dream. Closing it down would be a tragic waste.”

After operating successfully for more than a dozen years, the Los Angeles Family Literacy Program has been ordered to shut its doors next Thursday (May 29). The esteemed program, which was incubated by First 5 LA, is now the victim of budget cuts by the state and the Los Angeles Unified School District. It has provided access to education to hundreds of families over the years, helping transform lives and lifting families out of illiteracy and poverty.

In the program’s six centers across the city, young children attend pre-school classes while parents are schooled in literacy, parenting, leadership, self-confidence and basic job and life skills. Along the way, parents build trusting partnerships with schools and teachers, and learn positive methods for reinforcing their children’s education and managing their behavior.

SOS Appeal members are pleading with state and local political leaders to preserve the program, testifying at public meetings and sending hundreds of hand-written letters to the Board of Education and City Council.

“The Family Literacy Program saved my family’s life,” said one parent. “It taught us to read and speak English, and it taught me to be a good parent to my children. It is a blessing. If you close it, families will be lost.”

Campaign spokesperson Bauer said the group is asking the Board of Education to hold a full evidentiary hearing on the matter. It is outrageous that the school district is about to close the program down without ever considering the evidence of its effectiveness or enlisting the ongoing support of philanthropists in preserving it, she said.

“We understand the pressure to consolidate programs and save money. But it is vital to preserve this effective and successful program so that dedicated teachers can continue to deliver the success of this program for the people of Los Angeles.”

The SOS Appeal group said the Board of Education has to answer serious questions before authorizing the closure of a program that has delivered proven success. Among the points offered by the group:

— The program has a lengthy track record of helping some of the area’s poorest families succeed, keeping kids in school and out of gangs, and helping adults develop leadership and workplace skills.

— Los Angeles Family Literacy has been ranked by its peers as one of the highest performing such programs in the nation, as measured by achievements of both children and adults.

— Independent research has shown that the program significantly boosts student success, with Family Literacy Program students maintaining academic and societal gains long after they complete the program.

— Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on setting up the Family Literacy Program, testing it, refining it and perfecting it. Dedicated educators have worked steadfastly to make it a success. Dismantling the program now would be a tragic waste of those resources.

— The program is saving the state a lot of money by building better futures for families, helping them become contributing members of society. Former students, who did not know how to read or write upon entry to the program, have gone on to complete high school, graduate from college, and hold leadership positions in school and community organizations.

— The program’s innovative model, which educates parents alongside their children, gives parents the tools they need to reinforce their children’s learning and behavior in the community.

— The program is popular with families, and maintains lengthy waiting lists of families vying for scarce classroom spaces.

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