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Former U.S. Department of Education official to address literacy and inequality

Aug 25, 2016

Susan B. Neuman, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, will be the featured speaker at University of the Pacific's 2016 Beyond Our Gates Dialogue, focusing on literacy and inequality.

Neuman's research on "book deserts" has revealed stark disparities between poor and affluent neighborhoods when it comes to accessing print materials. In some high-poverty neighborhoods there may be only one age-appropriate book for every 300 children.

"Where there are no books, or when there are so few that choice is not an option, book reading becomes an occasion and not a routine," Neuman wrote in the July issue of the journal Urban Education. "This has enormous consequences for children's reading development and school success."

The Dialogue will take place at 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept.1, at the Alex and Jeri Vereschagin Alumni House on Pacific's Stockton campus. The event, part of University of the Pacific's Beyond Our Gates Reading by Third campaign, is free and open to the public.

Neuman, who received her doctorate from Pacific's Gladys L. Benerd School of Education, is professor and chair of the Teaching and Learning Department at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University. As Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education from 2001 to 2003, she helped to develop the federal Reading First and Early Reading First programs, and was responsible for implementing the No Child Left Behind Act. In 2003, she received the Pacific Alumni Association's Distinguished Public Service Award.

University of the Pacific President Pamela A. Eibeck convened the Beyond Our Gates campaign in 2010, working alongside local schools and other community partners to improve early literacy throughout San Joaquin County. One of the campaign's most recent efforts is the Beyond Our Gates Mini-Grants initiative. Made possible with support from the James Irvine Foundation, the initiative aims to fuel innovation and engagement with $5,000 and $10,000 grants to local organizations that seek to pilot or enhance promising literacy programs. Recipients of the first round of mini-grant funding will be announced at the Dialogue.

For more information about the event or to RSVP, contact Jennifer Torres Siders at jtorressiders@pacific.edu.   For more information about the Beyond Our Gates initiative, visit BeyondOurGates.org.

Media contact:

Jennifer Torres Siders | jtorressiders@pacific.edu | 209.946.3134

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