Can Demons and Doppelgängers Help Turn Around California’s Low Literacy Rating? One San Jose Middle School Teacher is Determined to Find Out

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SAN JOSE, Calif., June 18, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — In December 2017, a group of lawyers sued the state of California for the literary crisis in schools, claiming the state was not satisfying its constitutional responsibility to educate all children. According to the California Department of Education, a whopping 51.4% of students tested did not meet or exceed state English standards. Come November, voters will be faced with electing a Superintendent of Public Schools to turn around California’s low literacy rating. Many are asking: what are schools doing about the problem?

“That’s not the right question,” said Castillero Middle School teacher Chris Knoblaugh, author of Tribute: The Cleaners Series: Book 1. “The right question is, how are schools going to fund the one-on-one attention required to teach kids to read? You have to start by grabbing their attention.”

Knoblaugh knows first-hand the challenges teachers are facing, having taught English in elementary and middle schools in San Jose for 16 years.

Knoblaugh became a teacher through the back door. The first in the family, along with her sister, to graduate from college, she earned a B.A. in English Literature and B.S. in Biological Sciences, graduating cum laude. She began working for a chemical company conducting research, and eventually became a product manager for Sun Microsystems, where she was laid off.  With all the downsizing in the high-tech industry, she knew it was time to change gears.

Through a program offered by NOVA to recruit teachers for Science, Special Education, and Math, Knoblaugh applied to be a Science teacher. The school convinced her to use her writing skills to teach English instead, and put her in charge of a class where 70% of the students spoke English as a second language.

Knoblaugh quickly discovered what she was up against. “With a lack of resources at home like reading books, it’s not uncommon for a student to enter the seventh grade with a second- or third-grade reading level,” she said. “You learn vocabulary by reading. So, to teach in such an environment, you have to read aloud, stopping to discuss each section with the students.”

Her solution was to provide her own gripping stories that are accessible to kids. “There aren’t a lot of high-interest/low-readability books for tweens out there,” she said. Which is the reason she wrote her debut novel, Tribute.

Tribute, based in San Jose, California, is the story of twelve-year-old Miguel, whose family loses a soul every time his gang member Papa makes promises to Santa Muerte. Miguel’s brother, Juan, is the next target. The resulting paranormal possession attracts demons, doppelgängers, and an ancient soul slayer from the depths of Hell—all of whom must be vanquished. The book’s Amazon reviews show many adults are also enjoying Tribute.

Knoblaugh usually spends summers tutoring students for her Dancing with Words Tutoring business, but this summer she plans to write the second book in her anthology series. “It’s not a Harry Potter series,” she said. “More like Goosebumps, an anthology series where each book stands on its own with common themes and motifs.”

Released in April on Friday the 13th—for luck, she said—Tribute is available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon. Readers can find the author online at these locations:

Chris Knoblaugh

SOURCE Chris Knoblaugh

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