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City Club of Eugene: Literacy in Oregon: Challenges and Solutions

Jonathan Borba

Program date: Nov. 4, 2022

Air date: Nov. 7, 2022

From the City Club of Eugene:

Even before the Coronavirus pandemic, Oregon students werestruggling to read. Only 46.5% of students were proficient in reading by 3rd grade, with Black students and English-language learners posting even lower rates (see chart). The pandemicdeepened this challenge. Less than 44% of Oregon students tested proficient in English language arts, down from 53% in 2019, with students who were already below proficiency facing even greater declines than their peers.

Worse yet, Oregon has struggled to teach educators the “science of reading.” As of 2020,only 53% of Educator Preparation Programs in Oregon adequately addressed evidence-based reading instruction –dead last in the country.

Amidst this challenge, there are bright spots – and opportunities to double down on solutions that are working in communities big and small right here inOregon.

Our virtual panel of experts outline the challenge and the potential solutions to ensure that every Oregonian, no matter their age, can learn to read.


Audrey Lucero is associate professor of language and literacy education and director of the Latinx Studies program at the University of Oregon. She is a former first grade and English as a Foreign Language teacher. At UO she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in elementary literacy methods, bilingualism & biliteracy, and Latinx Studies. Her current research focuses on how K-8 teachers understand race and racism and engage children in critical conversations about these issues as part of their literacy instruction.

Rep. Barbara Smith-Warner (D) has represented House District 45, which includes Northeast Portland, Maywood Park, and Parkrose, since January 2014. In addition to serving on the House Rules Committee, she has focused on education and revenue issues throughout her time in the legislature. As the House Co-Chair of the Student Success Committee in 2018-2019, she helped establish the first dedicated funding source for preK-12 education in a generation. She served as the Democratic caucus leader from July 2019 to January 2022. She earned a BA from Gannon University in Erie, PA.

Angela Uherbelau is awriter and the president and founder of Oregon Kids Read. She started Oregon Kids Read because she believes that literacy is a civil right. She’s worked on various local, state and national political campaigns and also served as a legislative director in the Oregon State Legislature. During the early days of COVID, she helped establish the Irvington Westminster Community Learning Hub, which offered free full-time child care to families in need and also helped launch a Portland Public Schools one-on-one virtual tutoring program for struggling readers. Angela is a graduate of Smith College and Columbia University School of Journalism.

About the City Club of Eugene:

The mission of the City Club of Eugene is to build community vision through open inquiry. The Club explores a wide range of significant local, state, and national issues and helps to formulate new approaches and solutions to problems. Membership is open to all, and Club members have a direct influence on public policy by discussing issues of concern with elected officials and other policy makers. The City Club’s mailing address is PO Box 12084, Eugene, OR 97440, and its website is cityclubofeugene.org.

Video and Broadcast

This program will be live streamed, and the videotape will be made available on the City Club of Eugene’s Facebook page and You Tube Channel, in addition to our website. It will be broadcast on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, at 7:00 pm, on KLCC 89.7 FM.

Contact: For more information, contact Silver A. Mogart, City Club of Eugene, Executive Director, (541) 485-7433, administrator@cityclubofeugene.org

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