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Lt. Gov. Garcia Discusses Literacy, Early Education Challenges in Greeley

Grace Hood

Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia spent the day in Greeley gathering feedback for an upcoming plan to improve early childhood literacy. Among the topics of discussion at a University of Northern Colorado event were possible partnerships between local K-12 schools and higher education.

Marsi Liddell, president of Aims Community College, talked about the important role that businesses can play, highlighting the school’s College Promise Scholarship.

“Over a period of about 4-5 years now, over $500,000 has been contributed so that students who come out of [Weld County] District 6 can go to Aims tuition free for one year—and that includes books and a stipend,” she said.

But Liddell said students are increasingly ill-prepared for college-level reading and math. Up to 71 percent of this year’s freshman class needed some kind of remedial course work to prepare for college-level classes, she said.

That connects into why Garcia and others are advocating for more attention on early childhood literacy. Garcia said a student’s reading level in 3rd grade can be a powerful indicator of future success.

“We can tell which kids are likely to drop out, which kids are likely even if they do succeed to need remediation, that’s why we’re so focused on 3rd grade literacy,” he said.

Garcia asked questions about everything from evaluating teachers to programs nonprofits are providing in the region to promote early childhood literacy.