Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Central Coast CA :: Danville IL :: Jones Co MS

Central Coast adult literacy programs connect tutors and learners
KCBX: 12.28.2016 by Greta Mart

In San Luis Obispo County, an estimated 30,000 adults have limited literacy skills in English. In Santa Barbara County, about 18 percent of adults lack basic English literacy skills, that’s 50,000 people. And in Monterey County, according to Panetta Institute for Public Policy, 28 percent of adults - or eighty to ninety thousand people - are unable to read or understand written English.

Trying to decrease those numbers are several programs around the Central Coast, offered by public libraries or non-profits. They are all part of the California State Library Literacy Service, which partially funds the programs.

In Santa Barbara County, there is the public library system's Adult Literacy Program and the Central Coast Literacy Council, which serves Santa Maria, Solvang, Lompoc, Los Alamos and Orcutt. The Monterey County Free LibrariesAdult Literacy Program offers one-on-one tutoring or conversation groups. And in San Luis Obispo, Literacy for Life teaches 400 to 600 adults each year their English ABCs, said executive director Bernadette Bernadi.  READ MORE @  LISTEN

Connor eager to help improve lives
Commercial News: 12.29.2016 by Carol Roehm

Brandice Connor is dedicated to helping others in the community.

Connor spent two years as a crisis intervention counselor at Crosspoint Human Services, supporting individuals experiencing crisis or trauma, before becoming the literacy coordinator at Danville Area Community College this fall.

In her new role, Connor will continue to help others; this time helping individuals to gain the literacy and math skills needed to land a job or improve their quality of life.

In addition, Connor will be in charge of recruiting and training the volunteer tutors who work with the adult students to help them read, write and figure math better.

Laura Williams, director of adult education, said 85 students currently receive help through the Reader’s Route literacy program at DACC, which is entering its 32nd year.

The Reader’s Route pairs volunteer tutors with adults who are 16 years old or older and who read below the ninth-grade level, whose math skills are below the ninth-grade level or who are English Language Learners.

“It’s not just for GED students but for members of the community who need help,” Connor said of the program. “It’s for anyone in the community that needs literacy or math help.”  READ MORE @

Mississippi children aren’t the only ones struggling to learn to read
Sun Herald: 1.10.2017 by Ellen Ciurczak

When Victoria Norman was growing up in Laurel, she didn’t have anyone to help her with her homework. She and her brother were raised by her grandparents, who didn’t do much reading and couldn’t assist with her English lessons.

“I wasn’t that good in my English class,” she said. “When we had to read the stories and take the test, I would get low grades.

“I understood most of the words, but as they got bigger, it was a problem — and putting the punctuation in and the spelling.”

Norman, 28, dropped out of high school near the beginning of 12th grade when she had a child. Her literacy problems plagued her until she recently enrolled in adult education classes at Jones County Junior College. There, she got the reading and vocabulary help she needed.

“When I first came, my score was low, but when I tested on a harder book, I improved a lot and it just kept going on and on,” she said. “The stuff I know now I never even learned in high school.”

Many Mississippians never get the help Norman has received. According to the most recent figures available — from the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy — 16 percent of adults in this state are illiterate. The national rate, according to a study conducted in late April by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, is 14 percent.

In Mississippi, there are few places for adults who can’t read to turn.

“There are only about 23 entities in the state who do (reading instruction),” said Caleb Smith, director of adult education at JCJC. “That includes 15 community colleges. There are a few school districts that do this around the state.”

Smith said a lack of literacy skills puts an adult at severe disadvantage.  READ MORE @

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Neighborhoods Parched for Books :: Book Deserts

Neighborhoods parched for books 
NY Daily News: 1.04.2017 by Naomi Moland Susan B. Neuman

On the last day of 2016, the Barnes & Noble bookstore in the Bronx closed its doors for good, leaving New York City’s poorest borough without a general-interest bookstore. The borough’s 1.5 million residents — including 200,000 children in public schools — are left without a place to purchase books.

With this closure, the Bronx is joining an increasing number of communities that can be classified as “book deserts” — low-income neighborhoods with limited access to print resources. Our recently published study suggests that book deserts are becoming more common in cities across the U.S. The increasing concentration of poverty, coupled with technological advances that change how we buy and read books, is leading to neighborhoods where parents will have difficulty finding books to buy for their children.

Even if, in this age of Amazon, large brick-and-mortar bookstores are a thing of the past, city planners and retailers must find ways to ensure that poor neighborhoods are not cut off from crucial resources, including if not especially books.

And if you think bookstores are a relative indulgence for neighborhoods that lack good supermarkets, you miss the point. We recently conducted a study in Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., to learn about the availability of books. In each city, we walked, biked and drove street by street in a low-income and a middle-income neighborhood, and counted how many books were available for sale.

The disparity was stunning. One middle-income neighborhood had one book available per every two children living in the neighborhood. In a nearby low-income neighborhood, 830 children would have to share a single book. Across the three cities, middle-income neighborhoods had 16 times more books available for sale than low-income neighborhoods.

Book deserts are particularly detrimental for young children. Babies and toddlers (who do not yet have access to books in schools) need to be surrounded by books to develop preliteracy skills. When very young children are exposed to books and reading, they develop vocabulary and stretch their brains. When they don’t, they enter pre-K or kindergarten behind their peers, opening racial and class disparities that only grow over time.

Libraries offer crucial access to books. But in many low-income neighborhoods, they are woefully underresourced. When cities faced tough economic times in recent years, library budgets were slashed, leading to reduced collections and shorter hours. Even when libraries are open, some low-income families struggle to find transport to the library. Others forgo checking out books for fear of fines.

Besides, many children understandably yearn to own their own books that they can reread frequently at home. When parents and children are surrounded by books at all times, they are more likely to develop reading habits.  READ MORE @

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Literacy – Spanning North America :: Wagoner OK :: Duncan BC :: Pleasantville NJ

The Gift of Knowledge: Emalou Bias overcomes challenges to earn GED
Tulsa World: 12.21.2016 by Christy Wheeland

Sometimes the best gift a person can receive is one she gives to herself. For Emalou Bias of Porter, that gift came in the form of a High School Equivalence Diploma that completes her high school education requirements.

Bias earned her GED this winter after completing a year’s worth of studies with the help of tutor Beth Johnston at the Wagoner Literacy Center.

The road to achieving her goal of completing high school was rocky at times. Bias attended Porter Consolidated School through the sixth grade, and said when she had issues with being bullied, her parents pulled her out and home schooled her.

Money then became an issue, so when she turned 18 in November of 2015, she decided to pursue her GED. She found help at the Wagoner Literacy Center.

Bias worked full time, so she only came to the center once a week for an hour and a half tutoring session.

“In English I was almost ready. Beth helped me with a little bit of English and my family did too,” Bias said. “Math was my main concern. I started out in 8th grade math, so I worked from that point through 12th grade math while I was here.”

“When I first started, I as like, ‘Oh my God, I have to learn all of this.’ I don’t think I want to do this,” she continued. “Beth said, ‘We can do it, it’s okay. We’ll get through this, just take it day by day.”  READ MORE @

Duncan Lions donate $5,000 for literacy work
Cowichan Valley Citizen: 12.23.2016 Lexi Bainas

The Duncan Lions Club has donated $5,000 to Literacy Now Cowichan, aiding its efforts throughout the region.

“This support and endorsement for our adult literacy program means so much to our tutors and learners,” said LNC executive director Kathleen Erickson.
The Lions agree.

“We believe in support for literacy and many of us know people who face challenges with reading and writing. Therefore, we can connect with all that,” explained Lyne Moreau, president of Duncan Lions Club. “We like that the support LNC provides for computer literacy, too.”

Erickson said Literacy Now is experiencing something of a renaissance in its downtown learning centre.
=“Men and women, who for years have felt so badly about their reading or spelling, are working with tutors and are telling us that this experience is changing their lives,” she said.

The Lions’ funds will help adults “get the support they need to set goals, to learn in a safe, encouraging environment and to gain the confidence they need to plan for their future.”

Pathways to Learning, a program serving some 250 Cowichan region adult learners each year with free one-to-one literacy lessons with highly trained volunteer tutors, is where the funds will end up.  READ MORE @

A Pleasantville grandmother helps adults read
Press of Atlantic City: 12.27.2016 by Vincent Jackson

Kay Vigue, of Pleasantville, honed the skill of explaining things in a simple manner when she raised five children and worked as preschool instructor for 15 years.

Instead of running away screaming at the prospect of ever having to teach someone something ever again, Vigue, 68, brought her expertise to Literacy Volunteers Association Cape-Atlantic Inc., where she has served since 2002.

“I absolutely love teaching. It’s my passion,” Vigue said. “You have to be very delicate to introduce things without insult (to her English students).”

A lot of people want to give back when they are retire, Vigue said. Retired teachers, police officers and lawyers have all donated their time with Literacy Volunteers helping adults learn how to read or write in English, or both, she said.

Vigue is teaching her current student at the Absecon Public Library, but over the years, she has worked out of the Egg Habor Township, Galloway Township and Pleasantville branches of the Atlantic County Library system, she said.  READ MORE @  VIDEO

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Public Libraries: How Relevant Are They? :: Public Libraries Online

Public Libraries: How Relevant Are They?
Public Libraries Online: 1.04.2017 by Gretchen Kaser

A recent episode of Wisconsin Public Radio’s Kathleen Dunn Show [1] discussed the relevancy of public libraries in today’s world. Through interviews with Wisconsin Library Directors Paula Kiley and Kelly Krieg-Sigman, Dunn examined how libraries are being used by their communities and how this has changed over time.

Unsurprisingly, both librarians discussed the prevalence of downloading and streaming collections, such as Overdrive and Hoopla. Many users, they stated, rely solely on digital borrowing without ever physically visiting the library. Listeners called into the show excitedly touting these services and praising their ease for those with an on-the-go lifestyle.

During this conversation, Dunn indicated she was unaware libraries offered this service. Once aware of it, her reaction was positive. This response does not particularly surprise me, as many members of our community are unaware of our e-offerings, despite my library’s marketing efforts.

Another takeaway was that while circulation of physical items may be dropping, more people are visiting the library for programs. The importance of family library programs was discussed, as well as the role of the library as a community center.  READ MORE @  LISTEN

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Philadelphia PA :: Wilmington NC :: Green Bay WI

Dinner … At The Library?
The Culinary Literacy Center teaches cooking—and fosters community—among Philadelphians of all stripes
Philadelphia Citizen: 12.13.2016 by Quinn O'Callaghan

An estimated 500,000 Philadelphians, including 25 percent of black residents, lack some sort of basic literacy. This affects them in any number of ways—some can’t fill out work applications, others can’t balance a checkbook, still more can’t properly use a computer or type at a reasonable rate. That’s why for years, the Philadelphia Free Library, along with the city, has participated in programs citywide to teach adults and children how to read.

Now the Library has taken on another, less expected, form of literacy: Nutritional. At the Free Library’s three-year-old Culinary Literacy Center, participants learn how to read recipes, use the techniques in the recipes and understand the math in the recipes. In short—very short—they learn how to cook.

But it is about more than just cooking, says Liz Fitzgerald, director of the Culinary Literacy program. “There are opportunities across the board to interact with Philadelphians from all backgrounds,” she says.“There is an opportunity—where literacy and culinary literacy intersect—to really reach people here.”

Before 2014, Fitzgerald, a librarian with the system, had led library-hosted cooking and culinary literacy classes using, she says, a hot-plate. Then the library, in June 2014, built a fully-fledged, fully-equipped educational kitchen, capable of hosting everything from haute cooking exhibits to classes for low-income Philadelphians, at the main branch of the Free Library.  READ MORE @

Voices Of Conscience: Pat Smith gives the gift of reading
Star News Online: 12.19.2016 by Si Cantwell

Pat Smith was reading with Phil Foy in a small classroom in Winter Park Presbyterian Church one morning last week, and Smith was quizzing Foy about the material he'd just read.

"What decision did Michael make?" Smith asked.

"He rented his own apartment," Foy replied.

"Teletype -- did you know that word or did you sound that out?" she asked.

"I just sounded it out," Foy replied, smiling with pride as Smith congratulated him.

Smith and Foy have been meeting twice a week for nearly three years. Foy is pleased with the progress he has made.

"I can read the Bible," he said. "I can read the dictionary, and I can go to the library and get out a book."

A fan of Westerns, his favorite author is Louis L'Amour.

"I've come a long way, all with the Literacy Council," Foy said.

Smith said it takes courage for an adult to admit he or she needs help learning to read.

Cape Fear Literacy helps adults with two programs, Adult Literacy and English as a Second Language.  READ MORE @ VIDEO

Walls come down to support adult learners
A renovation project is underway at Literacy Green Bay to expand classroom space and add technology.
Green Bay Press Gazette: 12.19.2016 by Todd McMahon

Rosa Ramirez took a mighty big swing and delivered a crushing blow. The golden head of the sledgehammer she wielded tightly with both hands left a gaping hole at the bottom of one section of drywall.

The 40-year-old Ramirez had the honor of helping Literacy Green Bay staff, board members and project supporters whack away during what was hyped as a “wallbreaking” ceremony Friday. As the eager hitters in construction helmets and safety glasses connected on the ‘X’ markings across the base of a wall, they marked the start of an important makeover for the longtime agency in downtown Green Bay.

The basement space used by Literacy Green Bay in the Madison-Monroe Building at 424 S. Monroe Ave. will be off-limits the next several weeks. Walls are coming down, carpeting is being ripped out, and it’s out with the antiquated way of teaching adult learners with chalkboards in confined classrooms and in with the new of instructing and empowering them with modern-day comforts.

“We’ve had all of the same stuff for 20 years. So, it was time,” said Kathy Cornell, executive director for Literacy Green Bay. “Furniture, the classroom setups, everything was the same from 20 years ago.”  READ MORE @

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Adult Literacy Crisis :: Washington Post

Hiding in plain sight: The adult literacy crisis
Washington Post: 11.01.2016 by Valerie Strauss

If you are reading this, then by definition you don’t have a problem that more than 20 percent of the adults in the nation’s capital struggle with every day: illiteracy. The inability to read makes life significantly harder for individuals but also has an effect on society at large, according to the Literacy Foundation, which lists these consequences:

For individuals
Limited ability to obtain and understand essential information;

Unemployment: The unemployment rate is 2–4 times higher among those with little schooling than among those with Bachelor’s degrees;

Lower income;

Lower-quality jobs;

Reduced access to lifelong learning and professional development;

Precarious financial position;

Little value is given to education and reading within the family, and this often leads to intergenerational transmission of illiteracy;

Low self-esteem, which can lead to isolation;

Impact on health: Illiterate individuals have more workplace accidents, take longer to recover and more often misuse medication through ignorance of health care resources and because they have trouble reading and understanding the relevant information (warnings, dosage, contraindications, etc.).

For society
Since literacy is an essential tool for individuals and states to be competitive in the new global knowledge economy, many positions remain vacant for lack of personnel adequately trained to hold them;

The higher the proportion of adults with low literacy proficiency is, the slower the overall long-term GDP growth rate is;

The difficulty understanding societal issues lowers the level of community involvement and civic participation.

There are programs and schools working to help adults learn to read and get a formal education. In this post, Lecester Johnson, chief executive and president of the Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School, writes about the problem and some of the solutions.  READ MORE @

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Springfield MO :: Kenosha WI :: Worcester MA

“Now, I can read bigger words. ... I can pick up a menu in a restaurant and read it."
News Leader: 12.08.2016 by Jennifer Moore

Buying a can of green beans at the grocery store has always been a challenge for 41-year-old Ryan Rounsavill.

“I’d find the aisle of canned goods, but then I had to search the cans for pictures and clues,” he said.

Assembling cabinets at the plant where he worked, Rounsavill relied solely on diagrams.
And following someone’s driving directions almost always got him lost.

“I knew my letters. I knew the alphabet. I could read some two-letter and three-letter words like ‘cat’ or ‘dog.’ But that’s it,” he said.

He also sees letters and numbers reversed; a sign at the gas station reading $1.53 per gallon may appear to him as $3.15 instead.

Rounsavill recalls a teacher pulling him out of his second grade classroom and telling him he’d be switching schools. He needed a special education class, and his school’s classes were full. He was shuffled to several different schools, he said, even though his parents remained in the same house. His childhood was one of chronic loneliness.

And despite the fact he could barely claim a first-grade reading level, Ryan Rounsavill was awarded a high school diploma alongside his peers.

“Because I was in special classes, I did not take English classes. I took no history. No science. [In high school,] they sent me to shop classes and I was in work programs for the other half of the day,” he said.

Fast-forward to last year, when he was laid off from his job. He learned he qualified for workforce =development classes.

“Could they help me learn to read?” he asked the human resources staff member. He’d always tried to be upfront with his employers about his illiteracy, he said. His wife had filled out his job applications.

He enrolled in an adult literacy class at Ozarks Technical Community College.  READ MORE @

Literacy council celebrates students’ success
Anthology feature adult learners’ works
Kenosha News: 12.10.2016 by Christine A. Verstraete

Buttons were bursting with pride Saturday as a dozen Kenosha Literacy Council students read their published essays as part of the annual anthology release and winter celebration held at the Woman’s Club of Kenosha.

The 15th annual KLC anthology showcases nearly 60 stories written by adults enrolled in the literary program.

“Every year we have a different group of students with different stories,” said KLC Director Cheryl Hernandez. “The book is always a collection of the hard work of the students, tutors and staff.”

This year’s anthology includes essay based on three themes: “Be Inspired,” “Celebrate Good Times” and “Exploring My Community.”

They were written by adult learners from Asia, Europe and Mexico who are working to improve their English reading and speaking skills, along with U.S. students who want to improve their skills for work or to get their GED.

“The students are so inspiring,” said program coordinator Cassie Christianson. “They really want to make you want to do more in your everyday life. You can do anything, but you need to read and write.”  READ MORE @

For new English speakers, newspapers a path to fitting in
Telegram: 12.11.2016 by Cyrus Moulton

The class was originally inspired by a trip to a recycling facility.

But today, participants in the Reading Your Local Newspaper course at Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester are inspired to take trips to free concerts and Starbucks, saying they feel more integrated into the community as a result of the course.

“The newspaper is good for us because it is included information about everything,” said student Gabriel Hanjar, 61, who originally lived in Syria but now lives in Worcester.

Student Agueda Rivadeneyra, originally from Mexico, agreed.

“In my country, I didn’t read a newspaper,” said Ms. Rivadeneyra, 57, of North Grafton. “Now I can read a newspaper and books and can read in English ... you find news about Worcester, my community in Grafton and the international news.

Teacher Celeste L. Steffancci was at her local recycling facility when she saw a copy of a 1987 publication by the Telegram & Gazette titled “Life Skills in the News.” Looking through the booklet, she realized that it would be a great basis for the English as a Second Language classes she taught with Literacy Volunteers. The organization approached the Telegram & Gazette to solicit donated papers and is finishing its first semester this month.

“We try in all classes to teach things that are practical, what they can really use,” said Ms. Steffancci, 64. “Anything that can help them feel more integrated into the community. I think that when they know what’s happening in the city, even in terms of politics or just local stories or things like the Brown Bag concerts, something that they can participate in, I think the more they do, the more they want to do and I think, like a couple of students said, they gain confidence.”  READ MORE @