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Amid California’s mounting literacy crisis, state names new literacy directors

Amid California’s mounting literacy crisis, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond named two statewide literacy directors, Nancy Brynelson and Bonnie Garcia, Thursday as part of a push to get more California third-graders reading by 2026. “We know that when students learn to read, they can learn to read anything,” said Thurmond during a press conference, “but yet, this milestone has evaded so many in our country for so long, and California is focused on how we’re going to get there.” Brynelson, one of the primary writers of the English Language Arts framework, and Garcia, a dyslexia specialist with a background in structured literacy, will be the new co-directors for Statewide Literacy at the California Department of Education, helping guide school districts on the best practices of evidenced-based methods grounded in the science of reading, officials say, but not bound by it. “We are not interested in policing pedagogy or orthodoxy,” said Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Zimmer, a former teacher. “We are interested in accelerating and expanding what has been proven to work on the ground. There’s an abundance of evidence that shows the critical importance of building foundational skills in the early years.”