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Barksdale: Teaching teachers to teach

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Feb. 14, 2001
Without stronger reading skills, many of Mississippi's young people may end up in jail, according to Claiborne Barksdale, chief executive officer of the Barksdale Reading Institute.
The Barksdale Reading Institute in Oxford was established with a $100,000 million endowment from Jim Barksdale, Claiborne Barksdale's brother. The institute's mission is to promote literacy in Mississippi.
Mississippi is one of only two Southern states that does not invest public money into pre-kindergarten care. Because of this, Barksdale said most Mississippi children reach kindergarten without basic skills that would help them learn to read placing pressure on school districts to bring them "up to speed."
Barksdale said the staff at BRI is trying to develop programs to address early developmental problems hindering steady reading growth in the state's children.
One of the problems, Barksdale said, is that elementary and high schools have less money than colleges and universities.
Barksdale said the institute is waging its own war against illiteracy by trying to improve reading skills in children in pre-kindergarten through the third grade.
The institute has representatives working with teachers in 43 target schools around the state, teaching teachers how to improve reading skills and offering grant money for reading programs. Long-range plans call for Barksdale representatives to work in more that 150 schools throughout the state.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at