By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Jefferson County Chapter of the American Federation Teachers announced in a written statement that they were at Center Point Elementary (which was destroyed in a tornado last year) and nearby Erwin Intermediate School to give away hundreds of new books on Tuesday.
The students at Center Point Elementary and Erwin Intermediate schools are still dealing with the aftermath of the tornado which struck the area in Eastern Jefferson County earlier in the year.
JCAFT President Vi Parramore said, “This is the second book giveaway that our members have sponsored. Educators know how important it is for children to have a firm foundation in reading. Getting them books of their own that they can take home and read with parents and other family members is just one of the things teachers are doing to help the kids in their classrooms achieve at higher levels.”
The students at Center Point Elementary School are meeting at a temporary location. At a program on Tuesday at the temporary location, members of the Jefferson County American Federation of Teachers distributed the books to kids who attend the two schools.
After the destruction of the Center Point Elementary School building, its kindergarten through second-grade students have been attending classes at Erwin Intermediate and Erwin Middle schools.
The books were purchased by the teachers union in partnership with First Book. First Book is a national nonprofit organization which has distributed more than 90 million new, high-quality books to kids from low-income families across the country. JCAFT leaders and members talked to parents about the importance of reading with their children. Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Phillip B. Hammonds, members of the board of education, Center Point principal Laura Kirkpatrick and Erwin Intermediate principal Angela Watkins were all participants in the event.
During the Spring the JCAFT gave away books to students at Crumly Chapel Elementary School which was impacted by the devastating April 2011 tornados. Since World War II more Alabama residents have been killed by tornados than in any other state.
According to First Book, access to books and educational material is the single biggest barrier to literacy development in the United States. Studies show that there is a relationship between the number of books in the home and reading achievement. Children with books in their house typically reach a higher level of education than those who don’t. According to research cited by First Book, Middle income neighborhoods typically have 13 books per child; however in low-income neighborhoods there is typically a ratio of just one book for every 300 children. 94% of teachers have to use their own money to provide books & resources for their students. Typically children from wealthier families have four times the vocabularies of poor children by age 3. Poor children typically enter kindergarten 12-14 months below national norms in language & pre-reading skills. First Book says that reading scores have not improved in this country in decades. 83% of low-income 4th graders score at “Below Proficient” levels. First Book says that 78% of all juvenile crime is committed by high school drop outs and in 2004 the average high school graduate made $26,156, while the average American high school dropout earned just $16,485 a year. First Book hopes that distributing books to needy families will change these unfortunate realities.
The largest teacher’s union in the state is the Alabama Education Association (AEA). The Alabama Federation of Teachers is their rival association and frequent lobbying ally.
To learn more about Jefferson County American Federation of Teachers visit their website:
To learn more about First Book visit their website: