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Free Tutoring for SF Bay’s 3rd Graders

Nonprofit eSpindle Learning provides free licenses in response to education crisis

Sebastopol, CA, 6/11/2008 - eSpindle Learning, an online vocabulary tutoring program (www.eSpindle.org) out of Sonoma County, is giving free licenses to all 3rd grade classrooms in the nine counties comprising the S.F. Bay Area. The licenses will cover the entire 2008/09 school year, and are granted by the parent-initiated nonprofit to start a discussion about our society’s priorities.

“The impact of literacy on future success is so distinct that planners in various states, including California, use 4th grade reading assessments to evaluate how many additional prison beds they will need down the road, “ says Rosevita Warda, Executive Director of eSpindle Learning. “They do this because it is proven that fourth graders unable to read and write at grade level are unlikely to overcome this handicap – they are doomed to fail. When we learned about this practice, we were stunned by its irrational cynicism.”

eSpindle Learning launches its Bay Area-wide tutoring campaign to provide meaningful, hands-on vocabulary intervention, one of the core building blocks of successful literacy instruction at a time when it is needed most.
“Education is not a luxury,” says Warda. “it is an opportunity every child is entitled to. It is a basic human right, and neglecting this obligation is very shortsighted – and expensive.”

***40% of 4th grade students in California, and 65% of inner-city students, do not meet 4th-grade literacy standards. (1)

***75% of students who struggle with reading at the end of fourth grade drop out of high school (1).

***Nationwide, every nine seconds a student drops out of school (2). Dropouts are usually either underemployed or unemployable, which frequently can lead to a life of crime, consequently costing society on average between $1.7 to $2.3 million per criminal (3).

Logic would suggest that the most effective way to break the vicious link between education and poverty and crime would be to invest in early education.
Yet California's Governor Schwarzenegger prefers to feed his pet, the prison monster, whose never-ending appetite for funding is growing at a steady rate. California’s prison population today is over six times larger than it was in 1986 (4), largely due to changes in prison policy.

Synchronous with the struggle to fill California’s budget gap of close to $16 billion – for example by cutting the education budget or tapping state lottery funds (a resource designed to support education), the prison system demands a feisty $10.3 billion budget for itself, plus additional $15 billion for prison upgrades, to be financed through bonds that will burden Californians for the next 25 years.

Grade schools in San Francisco, Sonoma, Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Solano counties are eligible for eSpindle’s free tutoring licenses. While any classroom worldwide can visit www.eSpindle.org/classroom_trial to sign up for a 30-day trial of the eSpindle tutoring program, Bay Area schools will have this period extended to a full year of free tutoring for all 3rd graders in the 2008/09 school year.

“It is a drop in the bucket,” says Warda, “but our hope is that it will make a few waves and that the ripple effect will inspire further discussions and a different perspective.”

About eSpindle Learning:
Using the Internet to reach a diverse audience, nonprofit organization eSpindle Learning offers 100% individualized vocabulary and spelling practice to help students of all ages become confident readers and writers. The online tutoring service delivers customized learning sessions based on a proprietary database of more than 100,000 words.
The organization was established in 2004 and matches memberships with free licenses for disadvantaged students.
For more information, contact Billie Sue Fischer ([email protected]) or Rosevita Warda ([email protected]).
Visit our newsroom at www.eSpindle.org/news.html

1 - http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Literacy/stats.asp
2 - http://rodel.asu.edu/assets/documents/executive_summary_of_dropout_study.doc
3 - Cohen, M.A. 1998. The monetary value of saving a high risk youth. Journal of Quantitative Criminology 14[1]
4 - Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, http://www.cjcj.org/press/drug_policy.html