History of LFL
Having practiced as a state prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney for more than twelve years, Lucas Fleming is reminded daily of the growing epidemic of teens and young adults in the criminal justice system. When he began examining the problem further in search of a remedy, he found a direct correlation between illiteracy and crime.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a staggering 85 percent of children and teens in the juvenile system have below-average reading and comprehension skills. Fleming discovered also that in Florida, third grade is the first level that children can fail the FSA (the Florida Standards Assessments exam), a statewide, mandatory exam that children in grades 3-11 must pass each year in order to be promoted to the next grade level). He also found that children who fail a grade are more likely to drop out of school and less likely to succeed in general, as evidenced by a National Literacy Trust study suggesting that children’s level of ability at the age of seven is “a good predictor of their future level of achievement.”
In light of these statistics, Fleming recognized that early intervention and support could prevent at-risk children from falling into the void of the juvenile system. As such, he sought a way for local legal professionals to assist children struggling to keep up with their grade’s reading level. The result was Lawyers for Literacy, a non-profit organization that enlists volunteers to work with third-grade children to prepare them for the reading portion of the FSA state language arts/reading exam by increasing their reading proficiency, speed, and comprehension. Since its inception in 2003, the Lawyers for Literacy reading program has expanded to 20 schools in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties, and it has been very well-received by students, teachers, and administrators.
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