Help support Newspapers in Education

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Since the beginning of the school year, The Advocate has been working in conjunction with several sponsors on a program to introduce newspapers into local classrooms as a teaching tool. The program, Newspapers in Education or NIE, is modeled after similar programs across the country where businesses or individuals sponsor a copy of the local newspaper for each child in a particular classroom.

NIE is an international program that started in 1955 as a way to advance the use of newspapers in schools. The main purpose of the program is to improve reading, spelling and writing abilities and to let children know what was going on in the world around them.

&uot;There is substantial evidence that using newspapers in schools contributes to students' reading skills, writing skills, and current event knowledge. The effects are most dramatic among minorities,&uot; said Edward F. DeRoche, Dean, School of Education, University of San Diego recently.

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Literacy experts believe that adults with low level literacy skills lack a sufficient foundation of basic skills to function successfully in our society. By providing our local schools with newspapers, sponsors can help prevent illiteracy at time when young people have a support system of educators in place. Newspapers open the world to them and give them a chance to succeed.

The following is an editorial from the June 8, 1795 edition of The Portland (Maine) Eastern Herald. What is shows is that since the printed word, or the grandfather of the Internet as I like to call it, became a mass communication medium, newspapers have been looked upon as a way to educate and inform children. The editorial read as follows: &#8220Much has been said and written on the utility of newspapers; but one principal advantage which might be derived from these publications has been neglected; we mean that of reading them in schools, and by the children in families. Try it for one session - Do you wish your child to improve in reading solely, give him a newspaper - it furnishes a variety, some parts of which must infallibly touch his fancy. Do you wish to instruct him in geography, nothing will so indelibly fix the relative situation of different places, as the stories and events published in the papers. In time, do you wish to have him acquainted with the manners of the country or city, to the mode of doing business, public or private; do you wish him to have a smattering of every kind of science useful and amusing, give him a newspaper - newspapers are plenty and cheap - the cheapest book that can be bought, and the more you buy the better for your children, because every part furnishes some new and valuable information.”

Currently, 540 copies of The Greenville Advocate are delivered every Wednesday to participating classrooms at Greenville High School, W.O. Parmer Elementary and Greenville Elementary where a teacher has requested them. The teacher then incorporates the newspaper into their lesson plan for the week.

The Advocate offers the newspapers to the schools at a deeply discounted education rate and sponsors are enlisted to help offset the cost, which, based on average class size, generally costs around $12 per week. Current sponsors include Connie Coleman Realty, YMCA, and Alabama Power, Co. and we will publish a monthly &#8220thank you” ad in the Advocate listing each of them so the community can see the sponsor's dedication to literacy in our schools.

As always, there are more teachers that have requested newspapers than we have sponsors for, so if you or your business would like to participate in promoting literacy in our community please contact me at 382-3111 and I'll let you know how you can help.

Dennis Palmer is publisher of The Greenville Advocate. His column appears each Wednesday. He can be reached at 383-9302, ext. 125 or by email: