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Spaght Elementary Embarks On Scholastic Literacy Effort

Carla Eckels

According to the National Kids Count Data Center, more than half of Kansas 4th graders in public schools scored below the proficient reading level. Literacy advocates in Wichita are hosting events to help improve children’s reading skills. KMUW’s Carla Eckels reports…

Credit Carla Eckels
Spaght Principal Benjamin Mitchell works with 5th grader to unscramble name of a familiar book, "Matilda," while Wichita Griot Jean Pouncil-Burton and NAACP President Kenya Cox look on.

Students at Wichita’s Spaght Elementary School are embarking on a new scholastic literacy initiative called Read and Rise. In Kansas, 56% of white students are below the proficiency reading level, for black and Hispanic students that number is 80%. Prisca Barnes is CEO of Storytime Village, Inc., a non-profit organization that promotes lifelong reading to underserved youth in Kansas. Barnes will partner with Spaght to promote literacy by providing books, assisting with volunteers who read to students and hosting parent workshops.

"There is an achievement gap between lower income and higher income students in our state," says Barnes. "83% of African-American children are below reading proficiency and we cannot accept that so we are going to start one school at a time, we're looking at Spaght Elementary as our pilot school."

Barnes says more schools will be added to the program over time. Storytime Village, Inc. will also host a Community forum Thursday in northeast Wichita to gather input on closing the achievement gap through literacy.  

The Community Dialogue will be held Thursday at 6:00 p.m. at TOP Early Learning Center, 21st & Opportunity Drive in Wichita. And a Literary Celebration will be held on Friday, September 26 at 6:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Bradley Fair.

Follow Carla Eckels on Twitter: @Eckels

Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.