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Education unions launch new reading project in Baltimore

More than 180 pre-K, kindergarten and first-grade students at Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School took a new book home on Oct. 16 as part of an early reading project launched by two teachers unions working with administrators, parents and community partners.

The new effort is called the Clara Floyd "It's All About the Kids" Early Literacy Program, in honor of Floyd, the first African-American woman to serve as president of the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA). Throughout her career, Floyd constantly pointed out that everything educators do is "all about the kids."

The project will distribute more than 8,000 books to young readers across Baltimore, helping them start their own book collections at home. It is a joint effort organized by the Baltimore Teachers Union, MSEA and First Book, a national nonprofit organization that has distributed more than 90 million new, high-quality books to kids throughout the nation. The program is launching in Baltimore with the support of a grant from MSEA in recognition of Floyd's service.

"This is a great opportunity for our children," says BTU president Marietta English, who also is an AFT vice president. "We are proud to be a part of this program that will help build home libraries for our children. It is just the beginning of a relationship that will help our children become lifelong readers and learners."

At the project launch at Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School, English was joined by current MSEA president Betty Weller, school principal Harold Barber, parents and community partners for an assembly that included children's author Erica Perl reading to the students from her book Dotty. Each student received a copy of the book to take home.

"Clara Floyd spent more than 40 years as an educator working to make sure every child had the chance to be successful and we are pleased to honor her work with the launch of the Clara Floyd Early Literacy program," says Weller. "It is significant that we have joined together to partner with the BTU and the AFT because we are all committed to student success and, like Ms. Floyd, understand that all we do is all about the kids."

Each of the school's pre-K, kindergarten and first-grade children will receive three books through this project, which also will include several other Baltimore elementary schools. At Coleridge-Taylor, an ongoing renovation of the school library will also make many additional books and other resources available to students. [Joint AFT-BTU-MSEA-First Book press release]

October 16, 2012