The “Term Paper” assignment, will consist of a list of elected officials who represent you on all levels, local, state and federal. You are also required to write letters to three of those officials. One of those letters has to be written to your representative in the House, or one of your two senators in the Senate. You may write the remaining two letters to the officials of your choice.The letters must be written about an actual problem in your city, state or the nation. This entails researching the problem and the official, to whom you are writing, to ascertain if that person is able to help with the problem. Please be aware that the letters do not have to be actually mailed (unless you decide to do so). I will read each letter; and grade it based on the authenticity of the problem, the ability of the official to help solve it and how well it is written. The letters must be error free and persuasive. Hastily written letters, full of errors, will receive scores reflecting that lack of effort. I strongly suggest that this assignment be started immediately. Identify the elected officials; find out what their jurisdictions are (does s/he have the power to address the problem). Identify a problem; begin writing rough drafts. Ask family members, and others in the community, for input regarding the problem and what is needed to address it. Finally, ask that your letters be proof read by the Writing Center, a qualified family member, or a friend.Do not attack officials. Do not write partisan letters (democrat or republican slanted). Be respectful; but be firm in your request for help. I have attached a sample letter to guide you. You may submit your letters to me prior to the deadline (at least a week before); and I will look at them, make corrections and return them to you, to correct and resubmit. Do not take this assignment lightly, obviously to earn a good grade (20% of the final grade); but, also to practice the most important right that you possess – the right to petition your elected officials for service, which you helped to elect them to provide.
Wesley J. Lee
99 Wakeman Dr.
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Honorable Rob Rolison
Mayor of the City of Poughkeepsie
62 Civic Center Plaza
Poughkeepsie, New York 12061
First, I would like to congratulate you for your landslide win. I join other voters, in looking forward to the many positive improvements to our city, which you promised. I attended your inauguration; and was further inspired by your proposed administrative agenda.
My reason, for writing today, is to ask for your help in reinstating family literacy in the Poughkeepsie City School District (PCSD). Family literacy is a program which helps improve the quality of life for low income families. The program provides literacy for families in their homes and in a center, in intensity and duration, to make a sustained positive difference. Family literacy includes four components: Adult Education to help parents earn GE D’s and become employable; Early Childhood Education to help children (infants and toddlers) acquire an adequate vocabulary to be successful in school (10,000 words in Pre K); Parent/Child Interactive Literacy, in which children and parents read together and to each other and Parenting Education, to help parents become better parents and full partners in the education of their children.
The dire need for the project is evidenced by the fact that less than fifty percent of the senior class, of the Poughkeepsie High School, has graduated for over thirty years. Both, the Middle and High Schools, are in NY State Receivership. Quite simply, this is due to the absences of literacy, for generations, in the homes of low income families. Over eighty percent of PCSD students are low income. Due to the lack of exposure to literacy, these students enter school, Pre K, with 900 or 1,000 vocabulary words, not the required 10,000. With this low number of vocabulary words, it is like attempting to learn using a foreign language. They fall behind and, in most instances, they never catch up. This leads to poor performance all the way through the 12th grade. Therein lies the reason for the less than fifty percent graduation rate.
Family literacy was provided for families in the Poughkeepsie City School District from 1995 until 2006. I was the director of the program from 2000 until 2006. There were many success stories for both parents and children, who participated in the project. In 2014, one of the children who was in the program as an infant, graduated valedictorian. In 2006, the federal funding for the project was diverted to the wars. We were able to continue the program for two more years, with funding from local businesses and foundations, until the financial down turn in 2008, when it ended.
Now, that the economy has improved, it is imperative that we start this project again, immediately. Please speak to the Common Council about putting start up funding in the budget for family literacy. Also, we ask that you support our effort to garner funding, for this cause, from local businesses, foundations, the state and the federal government. Our most important obligation is the proper care of our children. And success, in that regard, is very much tied to educating them properly.
Those of us, spearheading this extremely important endeavor, are targeting September 2019 to implement Poughkeepsie Family Literacy again. We are optimistic that, with your help, we will meet that goal. Our committee would like to meet with you in the near future to discuss our strategy further; and get your input. You may reach me at (845) 964-2335, if you have questions; and to give me some tentative dates that we may meet.
Wesley J. Lee, President of the Family Literacy Project