D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large) sounded a lot like President Obama on Friday.
Orange issued a statement about 4 p.m. Friday acknowledging Read Across America Day, a celebration of author Dr. Theodor Seuss Giesel’s birthday by encouraging young people to read in school and at home.
Orange referred to Giesel — “Dr. Seuss” — as an “author whose whimsical tales continue to delight young readers around the world.”
“Dr. Seuss reminds us of the countless ways reading enhances our lives,” said Orange, who is seeking reelection in the April 3 Democratic primary. “We can no longer stand by and watch our children experience negative lifelong consequences from their inability to read by the third grade.”
Earlier on Friday, the White House issued its own statement for Read Across American Day. In a proclamation, Obama referred to Giesel as “an author whose fanciful wordplay and whimsical tales continue to delight young readers around the world.”
“Dr. Seuss’s stories evoke the unlimited potential for imagination and inspiration on the printed page, and they remind us of the countless ways reading enhances our live,” Obama statement read.
With language so similar, the statement could become a political headache for Orange as he enters the final month of his campaign. In many cases, council members rely on staffers to write releases that include quotes.
Estell Mathis-Lloyd, Orange’s chief of staff, is listed as a contact person on Orange’s statement. Lloyd was unavailable to comment Friday.
When a Washington Post reporter went to Orange’s office Friday for comment, a staffer said Orange was in a meeting and asked the reporter to wait in the hall. After a 30-minute wait, several Orange staffers left the office. When the reporter went in looking for the council member, he was told Orange had left — apparently through a side door. Calls to his cell phone went to voicemail.
You can read Obama’s here and Orange’s below.
Today, Councilmember Vincent B. Orange, Sr., issued the following Read Across America Day message: “We acknowledge the birthday of Dr. Theodor Seuss Giesel, an author whose whimsical tales continue to delight young readers around the world. Dr. Seuss’s stories remind us of the countless ways reading enhances our lives. On Read Across America Day, I am particularly mindful of the plight of many District children who are not reading proficiently by the third grade. According to the Hatcher Group Vice President Phyllis Jordan, ‘Eighty-one percent of children in the District do not read proficiently by the 3rd grade.’ Furthermore, 56 percent of fourth graders do not demonstrate basic mastery of reading on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress exam. The empirical evidence presented cements the case for early childhood intervention programs becoming the moral necessity of our time. We can no longer stand by and watch our children experience negative lifelong consequences from their inability to read by the third grade.”
Councilmember Orange further states: “During this legislative session I introduced the “Early Childhood Education Act of 2011.” This measure will mandate a curriculum that will ensure a reasonable expectation that 3 and 4 year olds are prepared for entry and achievement in the District of Columbia Public Schools kindergarten program. This measure will also mandate a curriculum that will ensure a reasonable expectation that third graders will be able to read independently and be able to add, subtract, multiply and divide upon being promoted to the fourth grade.”
The Rand Corporation Senior Economist Dr. Lynn A. Karoly provides analysis on the importance of early childhood intervention programs. “Research shows that not achieving proficiency in reading by the third grade, coupled with other risk factors like low family income, increases the changes of later school failure, including dropping out of school,” said Karoly, who offered a viable solution. “A growing body of rigorous research demonstrates that high quality learning programs can improve school readiness, particularly for disadvantaged children.”
“The Early Childhood Education Act of 2011,” serves as a catalyst for building the case that District children deserve a fair chance at the starting line of life. Research indicates that investments in early childhood education programs substantially reduce long-term costs by addressing academic deficiencies at each designated grade level. Further evidence indicates two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the fourth grade will end up in jail or on public assistance. Moreover, several states forecast needed prison growth based on third grade reading scores. We have the choice to invest in our children early-on or to allow our children to fall by the wayside,” said Councilmember Orange. “According to research it takes approximately $10,000 annually to educate a child, but $50,000 to incarcerate later in life. This early childhood education measure sets the parameter for ensuring our children are adequately prepared and have a great opportunity at a good quality of life. We must make a vital investment in our children, as we celebrate Read Across America Day by empowering every child with a fair chance, a strong start and the ability to read proficiently!”