Campaign For Grade-Level Reading To Host Mayoral Forum
NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (NOCGLR) is partnering with United Way of Southeast Louisiana and the Institute for Mental Hygiene to host its first mayoral forum on Wednesday, Sept. 27.
The forum will take place at WYES, 916 Navarre Ave., from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., and provide the mayoral race’s top three candidates – Michael Bagneris, LaToya Cantrell and Desiree M. Charbonnet – the opportunity to discuss their positions related to the need for an increased municipal investment in quality early learning opportunities and summer learning programing for New Orleans’ children.
Expert business and nonprofit panelists will pose questions to the candidates to further understand their plans to address the lack of access to high-quality early care and education, and the critical need to increase supports for working families, organizers said.
Panelists will include:
• Todd Battiste, UWSELA, education vice president
• Melanie Bronfin, Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, executive director
• Revia Ellis, Stand for Children, parent organizer
• Patty Riddlebarger, Entergy Corporation, director of corporate social responsibility
The public can tweet questions to the candidates for the audience Q&A segment using the handle @NOLAGLR.
The forum has the support of a diverse set of community nonprofit leaders, including Converge; Greater New Orleans Foundation; Kingsley House; Louisiana Children’s Museum; Louisiana Policy Institute for Children; Stand for Children; Urban League of Louisiana; and UWSELA Women United.
In conjunction with the event, more than 50 community organization have signed a joint statement of support for increased municipal investments in quality early care and education opportunities, organizers said.
NOCGLR and partners encourage the next mayor of New Orleans to commit to increasing the city’s municipal investment in children by:
• Creating a department of children and families within the Mayor’s office;
• Creating a dedicated city funding stream to increase the number of New Orleans children, birth through age three, who can access high-quality early care and education; and
• Increasing investment in high-quality summer programming that stems summer learning loss for children, birth through age eight, and helps keep them on track for success.
The future of New Orleans depends on the city’s investment in our children, NOCGLR reps said. Research shows that young children who participate in high-quality early learning programs are four times more likely to graduate from high school and become more productive citizens than their peers who do not participate in such programs. This is because 80 percent of brain development happens between birth and age three, which provides the foundation for future learning and social and emotional development.
High-quality early care and education prepares students for success, enables families to be productive in the workforce, and supports a thriving local economy, NOCGLR reps said. Yet, less than 16 percent of at-risk New Orleans children birth through age three have access to a publicly-funded child care seat. This is in spite of the fact that most New Orleans parents – 66 percent of married parents and 67 percent of single mothers – are working, and need access to affordable, high-quality child care, which costs almost as much as tuition for a state college or university, NOCGLR reps said.
High-quality summer programming supports families in the workforce and can close the reading achievement gap for low-income students by two years between kindergarten and fourth grade, yet, more than 2,000 New Orleans children, between the ages of four and eight, who are living in poverty do not have access to a publicly-funded summer program, NOCGLR rep said.