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Black leaders say it's on them to close Pinellas' learning gap.

'We have already lost too many children.'



MARIA SCRUGGS, PRESIDENT OF THE NAACP’S ST. PETERSBURG BRANCH, OUTLINES HER PLAN TO ADDRESS LOW READING ABILITY AMONG BLACK STUDENTS IN PINELLAS COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS. THE SCHOOL SYSTEM HAS “DONE WHAT THEY CAN DO,” SCRUGGS SAID, “BUT NOW IT’S TIME FOR THE COMMUNITY TO STEP IN.” [DIRK SHADD | TIMES]


By: Megan Reeves


ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas County school leaders still haven't cracked the code for how to effectively educate black students, even in the face of a court order pushing them to do it.


Less than a quarter last year were considered proficient readers. More than half were in remedial programs. Overall, black kids in the county continue to lag far behind any other group by every academic measure.


"The (school) district has shown they just can't do it," NAACP St. Petersburg president Maria Scruggs said at the chapter's meeting this week. "They have done what they can do, but now it's time for the community to step in."


Her group this week publicly declared local black students' deficiencies in reading a major civil rights issue. But rather than point the finger at the school district, Scruggs said, it's time for the black community to accept part of the blame.


Educating black children can't happen only during the school day, she said. Kids need support from everyone around them, and the NAACP is laying the groundwork to make that happen.


Scruggs is proposing what she says is the county's first community driven reading campaign, set to launch about a year from now. She compared her plans to the 2006 movie Akeelah and the Bee, which tells the story of a young black girl from south Los Angeles who dreams of winning the National Spelling Bee, and the people who help her get there.





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Harriet Deloach
Harriet Deloach
Aug 19, 2023

Reading ...... I'd like to help..... It's an essential skill. Readers get 80% more information than others. That really counts in the game of life.


And learning to read is a joyful, fun, group experience in teamwork....

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