New Library Brings Up Old Disparities

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The new Pistons-funded library at Lewton Elementary in Lansing comes just in time. As teachers begin MEAP preparations, improving reading is high up in the lesson plans.

"All areas, frankly, can be improved," said Hugh Clarke, VP of the Lansing Board of Education. "No child or student ever knows enough or can read enough books; you can never have a great literacy program."

Lewton principal Teri Bornero sees the library as one way to combat what she considers a major setback.

"What we find really, and this is state-wide, is that the girls are better readers and score better than boys at the elementary level," Bornero said.

Whether it's adding extra reading or innovative programs, there's one thing Lansing-area teachers all want to do: close the gap between genders and minorities in reading abilities.

"Anything that is ten percent or more in the gaps is a concern," said Bornero.

Lansing schools have a history of gaps in reading abilities. Last year, economically disadvantaged fourth-graders performed almost 20 percent worse on the reading MEAP than their privileged classmates. And black fourth-graders performed 16 percent worse than whites. In Bornero's school, improvements have been made, but they have a ways to go.

"We did pretty well on our state-wide report card. We received a B, which was up from a C the year before, so our scores are going up."

With the Pistons paying attention to reading in schools, Bornero sees the additional books and resources as a chance to at least work on one aspect.

"We're trying to really level the playing field for boys and girls in what they choose and what they love to read," she said.

So that way, success can be in the books for everyone.