Statewide Literacy Day

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

Link to media artifact(s) giving background on the issue. Please list the title of the artifact(s) and then make the title(s) a link to the page in the MSC site where the artifact has been posted. You may include media artifacts made by other MSC members, if relevant, even if they are not authors of this proposal.

Public Schooling in Michigan 2. Persona and POV statement Persona: Persona name: Joshua Banks Age: 7 School/occupation: Benton Harbor Elementary School Location: Benton Harbor, Michigan   Quote: "Reading is boring!"   About:
  • Struggling in english and having a difficult time understanding books, and thus does not care for reading
  • His teachers do not have the proper resources or time to help him outside of school, and do not have extra books for him to take home
  • His brother, Jacob, attends Benton Harbor High School and is working part-time after school just to help his family pay the bills
  • Improve his grades by working with teachers in and out of class, take advantage of extracurricular activities provided through school
  • Continue to practice and improve his H-STEP scores by working hard in class and receiving more help outside of class
  • Be the first one in his family to attend college by receiving a scholarship


POV Statement:
  • User: Joshua, a diligent and passionate elementary school student
  • Need: needs more resources to allow him to reach his full potential as a student
  • Insight: he can receive the proper guidance and resources to be the first one in his family to attend college


3. Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Make after school reading and writing programs more prevalent for hurting schools that struggle on literacy tests and standardized tests.

  • Increases in funding and resources for extracurricular activities that already exist inside of the school, or contracting third party companies to come into schools and run programs 

  • Model of ‘Citizen Schools' - private company founded to sharpen students’ literacy skills and give them more opportunity outside of school 

  • ‘Books for Benefits’ is a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote a life-long appreciation for reading and intellectual exploration amongst students in Southeast Michigan. They provide both books and reading spaces for students in specific communities in order to support equitable opportunities in education.

  • This solution has the potential to an umbrella program of the No Child Left Behind Act which requires schools not only to show student proficiency in reading, but also to provide supplementary services, such as after school programs, for those who fail to meet expectations.

SOLUTION 2: Hold celebration and day of festivities across Michigan schools on September 8th, International Literacy Day. 


  • Promote the “fun” of books, stories, and other forms of literature through the celebration and coming together of students and teachers. Allow for the school and/or entire district to take time out of busy school year and celebrate reading and writing. 

    • Allow for food, games, and celebration to be had in order to make it fun for students. 

  • Allow for older students (high school) to share their favorite pieces of literature with younger students (middle and elementary schools) in order to show that reading is ‘cool’ and fun. As well, allow for older students to share short stories, poems, and creative writing they have done in and out of class. Allow for students to read their work aloud and promote creative writing and sharing amongst classmates. 

  • Run a competitive book drive to collect books for low-income areas that struggle with literacy proficiency. Nationally, 61% of low income families don’t have proper access to books which puts their children at a academic and social disadvantage. 

  • Have a day similar to what elementary schools call “DEER”, or Drop Everything and Read. Allow kids to have a day of just reading

SOLUTION 3:  Try to manufacture or create a ‘Literacy Boost’ among underprivileged school districts through working with Children Literacy Programs.

  • Use the model from Save the Children’s Literacy Boost which helps to create a culture of reading both inside and outside of the classroom. Aimed at improving a students development 

  • Firstly, measuring kids' reading skills to see how well they know their ABCs, sound out words and letters, read and understand sentences. Make different plans based on individual students as well as school district at large. 

    • This is the first step, getting data and breaking it down to understand each individual and schools performance. 

  • Training teachers to help children crack the code of reading, keep students engaged and interested in reading books, and use games, songs and stories in literacy lessons. This comes with new training techniques and third party professionals or online courses which aim to teach faculty. 

  • Getting communities involved in learning by providing books, libraries and supplies, sponsoring camps, "reading buddies" and other learning activities. Once progress starts to be made it must be solidified and continued for students and communities. This will not only help current students but also the younger students of the future. 




Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

In 2016, the Michigan Legislature passed a law that requires elementary schools to identify learners who are struggling with reading and writing. Once they are identified, the school must provide additional help. The law states that third graders may repeat third grade if they are more than one grade level behind in reading. An assessment is given to all children in Kindergarten through Third Grade within the first 30 days of school. Next, an Individual Reading Improvement Plan (IRIP) is written for any student who have been identified as below the desired reading level. This plan is devised with teachers, the principal, and the students legal guardians. A “Read at Home Plan” is devised for the student and the school must provide resources and activities for the student. If the student is retained a reading program is designed to improve the specific students reading concern through specialists, ongoing assessments, and daily instruction. Firstly, this relates to our proposal because it is focused on literacy of Michigan Students. Our proposal comes in where this law does not reach, providing actual resources and potential guidance to younger students struggling. Both provide help for Michigan students, and together they provide a wholistic plan to evaluate and then properly distribute necessary resources to the student. 

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

We learned about the issues underlying our proposal by actively participating in the Michigan Student Caucus. Both of us are from New York and taking this course has opened our eyes to Michigan’s problems and difficulties. Researching, reading, and learning about Michigan’s education system has opened our eyes into how the government is able to participate in the learning of the state’s students. Education, specifically literacy rates, seemed like a topic that has potential to get better in Michigan. However, when researching we could not find any pertinent solutions. Rather, we found great organizations around the state doing positive work without a cohesive law or bill in action. This led us to learn more about the root of the problem, and devise potential solutions. This process has been challenging but educational as we have learned about how a proposal has the potential to improve a student's life and school system.  


How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Both of us have been working on our volunteer hours throughout the semester. This has been beneficial because we have been able to understand the standing of people in Michigan that are less fortunate that most UM students we interact with. It has broadened our view to the people that live in the state of Michigan, and that Ann Arbor is not representative of the entire state. This has allowed us to have hands-on experience with people that are in need of assistance. This has been rewarding and a great experience to help people that are in need. 

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Public Schooling in Michigan


Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1: Books for Benefit Meetings

CONSULTATION 2: Raven Jones, America Reads and Literacy Programs Manager

CONSULTATION 3: Elizabeth Durant, Children's Literacy Network


Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

We met with Michael after completing our initial POV and personal statements. At this point, we had identified that Michigan’s education system needed a boost. However, we were unsure of how to address in on this issue. We were thinking about focusing in on standardized tests scores, college acceptance and dropout rates, as well as literacy rates among students throughout the state. Slowly, through research and gaining a better understanding of the state we identified that Michigan deals with extreme inequity throughout its school districts. We learned that Washtenaw Country is the 8th most segregated county in the nation. Michael directed us to deal with the issue with a hands-on approach, directly dealing with people that understand these educational issues in a greater capacity. After our meeting, we understood that in order to form a solution we had to get to the root of the problem. A few weeks later, we met with Jeff and Michael and discussed the solutions we had devised. We worked through our potential solutions, the benefits, costs, and applicability they had for the state. Overall, the meetings allowed for us to generate a better plan moving forward. They advised us on how to identify a problem, how to do proper research, and what was necessary to generate a good proposal. Both, Michael and Jeff provided us with helpful advice throughout this process. 

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

First Step - We were on a mission to find the primary cause of Michigan’s Educational mediocrity. Soon, we learned that many factors affected the educational system and we could not reshape all of them. Initially, we were thinking to broadly, we thought we would rework the entire budget of the state. Therefore, we had find the specific part of education we could focus on and potentially make a difference in. After contacting educational professionals in Michigan and doing our own research about Michigan’s students we learned about the below average literacy rates amongst students. We found out about the Read By Grade Three Law, which was going to get implemented statewide. We understood that literacy rates are a primary issue in the states educational performance. 


Step Two - Step Two - We spoke to administrative professionals, teachers, and leaders of educational programs about literacy rates. We read about inequity in Michigan schools, and researched the explicit details of what was currently going on within different school districts. We both made numerous phone calls to administrative offices and educational organizations, most of time, to no avail. However, after a long process of making phone calls and sending emails we got some responses. This helped us to identify the specifics of how we could help boost literacy rates. As well, many professionals were able to lead us in the right direction. They not only had ideas of their own but were able to suggest other organizations to contract or colleagues that they had. 

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?

Together, we both took responsibility for this project. We brainstormed together and split our ideas to better suit our individual strengths. We both take pride in working and worked together in an efficient and helpful manner, working to gain the best result possible. Firstly, Jeremy had the idea to focus on education. From there, we both did research on how the Michigan Education System was not performing well. Then, for the research phase, Henry emailed and called numerous people and organizations looking for leads to better understand the actual problems in the state. He went to a Caucus Town Hall and met with Raven Jones, America Read’s and Literacy Programs Manager at the Ginsburg Center, and she was able to advise us in the right direction. Jeremy, went on to do research by contacting his teachers and principals from his elementary and middle schools. Together, both of us researched and found numerous sources and ideas to work from. Then, together, we both wrote the media artifacts, POV’s, and proposals. We did this by one person writing, and the other person editing their writing. This worked for both of us as we took turns writing and editing.  


The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS....Only 50% of third graders in the state of Michigan are considered proficient readers, according to the Michigan M-STEP data.

WHEREAS....Fourth graders attending Michigan public schools ranked 41st in nation-wide reading scores.

WHEREAS....63% of students received scores on the SAT that were not considered "college proficient."

WHEREAS....The four-year dropout rate in public schools is up to 8.73%, an increse from 8.40% last year.

WHEREAS....Some public schools are in danger of being closed due to the lack of enrollment in schools, causing a budget deficit of nearly $5.7 million.

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).


1. Requests that the state of Michigan require all public schools to participate in a statewide National Literacy Day

2. Further implements National Literacy Day by inviting authors to come into schools and share some of their favorite books, as well as interact with the students to encourage them to continue reading

3. Requires teachers to allow students to read whatever books they would like for an alloted period of time, known as "DEAR": Drop Everything And Read.

4. Invite the Scholastic Book Fair to come to some of the public schools around the state so students have more options and can purchase books for their own leisure

5. Starts a statewide book drive where people can donate books they no longer need and those books are provided to the less fortunate public schools in need of books and other resources

6. Advertises the book drive and National Literacy Day throughout the state and encourages people to participate in either event through an incentive-based program, including potential tax reductions or other financial gains.

7. Invites students from the University of Michigan and other Michigan public universities, as well as highly educated high school students to come into public schools and read to students and share some of their experiences with reading and how it has helped improve their education. 


What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. Requiring schools to participate in a National Literacy Day may interrupt lesson plans and curriculums for teachers who are on a tight schedule.

2. Although a National Literacy Day would encourage students to read more and possibly spark more of an interest for reading outside the classroom, it may not improve statewide reading scores overnight. It is certainly a step in the right direciton as students will hopefully be more willing to reading and improving their ability to read, results may not show immediately.

3. Funding towards this event could be somewhat costly depending on how much the state is willing to invest. With the state already facing a budget issue and in danger of closing schools, they want to spend money elsewhere.

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

In terms of funding, a National Literacy Day would only require funding if legislatures feel funding would improve the day significantly. We understand that the state is curently facing a budget crisis, and have constructed a way for the day to be created without the use of funding. However, if funding was alloted, we propose the state uses tax money to bring in famous authors to share their own books, as well as inviting the Scholastic Book Fair would also require funding from the state. Schools would object to money being spend towards this as they would probably prefer money being spent to resources of their choosing.



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