Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why Air Lift to LA? #airlifttola #literacy #education Why Compton and not Toronto? or Barrie? Or Edmonton?

Lots of people have been asking me why Air Lift to LA was started, and what school(s) will be receiving the books we collect. Here's what Meghan Gaynor from Access Books, our partner in California, has to say about where the books are going and why:

"We haven't selected a recipient school yet. We've been meeting with administrators from Compton Unified School District, and the books will definitely go to a CUSD school -- it remains to be seen which.That said, why Compton? CUSD libraries are lacking in current books and in great need of a makeover. The book to student ratio in CUSD's libraries average 8 to 1 (the School Library Association recommends 25 to 1), and the average year of publication is 1990. Most students in this district are children of color and children of immigrants living at or near the poverty line. Research indicates that the best predictor of reading ability is access to books, and in poverty-ridden areas, the quality of the school library is the best predictor of reading achievement (McQuillan, 2000, Allington, 2009). The American School Library research data clearly shows that students with access to school libraries and good books score higher in state reading scores and are more interested in reading.
To illustrate this disparity, Kenter Elementary School in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles has a beautiful free standing school library, built with parental raised funds. The library serves 450 students and has a collection of about 9,000 volumes. The titles are current and up to date. Students at Kenter also have access to home libraries and a nearby public library. The closest bookstore is a few short miles.
Conversely, King Elementary School in Compton has 500 students and a collection of 3,000 titles. There is no neighborhood bookstore."
So clearly, the situation in Compton sucks. There are many other places with libraries that need help too - even right here in my own home town of Toronto. I don't have to go very far to find libraries that are dirty, out of date, understaffed, underserviced and plain old buzzkillers. Let's get a grassroots movement going to help them all!!
Here's a link to some of photos showing previous Access Books projects and recipients. They are all downloadable in high-res. Please DO check out the pictures below, from previous Access Books projects, to get an idea where OUR books will be going. And pass the pics around to show your contacts that the kids we are helping are not somehow "different" from their own kids, but are children that have the same human potential as kids from rich neighbourhoods, if they are given the chance to develop it.

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