By Matt Kadosh for tapINTONewark

NEWARK, NJ — The nonprofit education research and policy group JerseyCAN will host screenings of a documentary that examines deficits in literacy for children, the organization announced.

The first screening of “The Right to Read” is set for Wednesday, May 17, at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. TAPinto Newark is serving as a media sponsor. Additional screenings are scheduled in Asbury Park on May 24 and in Camden on May 31.

“Across the board, our students’ reading proficiency must be improved, but we are in a desperate situation with our students of color,” JerseyCAN Executive Director Paula White said in a statement. “JerseyCAN and organizations and institutions across the state of New Jersey are ringing the alarm bell today and uniting around one clear priority – immediate action to ensure that every public-school student can read and write.”

The announcement follows a report by TAPinto Newark in April that a majority of Newark’s third-graders can’t read with only 19% of the city’s third-graders passing last year’s state reading exam.

The screenings mark the launch of the New Jersey Legacy of Literacy Coalition Campaign, an effort aimed at influencing Gov. Phil Murphy, state lawmakers and state education officials to adopt a high-quality statewide plan to address literacy in every New Jersey public school, JerseyCAN said.

“Teaching students to read should be an unwavering professional pursuit informed by evidence and a track record of success, not based on a popularity contest of which teaching method is preferred or currently in vogue,” White said. “If a light is not shined on this issue and strategically addressed in Trenton, we will rob many in this generation of New Jersey’s public school students of a viable future.”

This year, the Nation’s Report Card, an annual report conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a congressionally mandated initiative administered by the National Center for Education Statistics within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences, stated that New Jersey has failed to move the needle in closing socioeconomic or racial gaps in fourth-grade reading proficiency for the past 20 years, JerseyCAN said.

The New Jersey Legacy of Literacy Coalition, or NJLL, and its partners are launching a marketing campaign showcasing data regarding the literacy gap in New Jersey schools, the organization said. The coalition will also launch a lobbying campaign to work with the state Legislature to define state directives and goals to address the literacy gap and enable aligned teacher training for public school teachers.

New Jersey-based organizations interested in joining the NJLL Coalition may email

If you go:
Newark: JerseyCAN will host the first screening of “The Right to Read” Wednesday, May 17, at 6:30 p.m. at Nico at New Jersey Performing Arts Center, One Center St., Newark. The screening is being held in coordination with Newark Trust for Education, Unapologetic Parents, Project Ready and Programs for Parents.

Asbury Park: JerseyCAN and Westside Citizens United will host a screening Wednesday, May 24, at 6:30 p.m. at Bradley Elementary School, 1100 3rd Ave., Asbury Park.

Camden: JerseyCAN and the Camden Education Fund will host a screening Wednesday, May 31, at 5:30 p.m. at the Camden County Library – Ferry Avenue Branch, 852 Ferry Ave., Camden.


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