Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dropout Factories

Illiteracy: The Downfall of American Society
from Education Portal: Jul 24, 2007

Illiteracy is causing irreparable damage to our society. If you think that sounds like an exaggeration, you're wrong. For proof, check out these illiteracy statistics.

In a study of 20 'high income' countries, the US ranked 12th on literacy tests. Illiteracy has become such a serious problem in our country that 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their child. A few other shocking facts:

50 % of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level.
20 % percent of Americans are functionally illiterate and read below a 5th grade level.
Nearly half of all Americans read so poorly that they cannot find a single piece of information when reading a short publication.

How Illiteracy Affects Job Prospects

3 out of 4 people on welfare can't read.
20 % of Americans read below the level needed to earn a living wage.
50 % of the unemployed people who fall between the ages of 16 and 21 cannot read well enough to be considered functionally literate.
46 and 51 % of American adults have an income well below the individual threshold poverty level because of their inability to read.

How Illiteracy Affects Society

3 out of 5 people in an American prison can't read.
85 % of juvenile offenders have problems reading.
Approximately 50 % of Americans read so poorly that they are unable to perform simple tasks such as balancing a checkbook and reading prescription drug labels.
To determine how many prison beds will be needed in future years, some states actually base part of their projection on how well current elementary students are performing on reading tests.

How Illiteracy Costs Taxpayers

Illiteracy costs American taxpayers an estimated $20 billion each year.
Illiteracy has been proven to cause children to drop out of school. Dropouts cost our nation $240 billion in social service expenditures and lost tax revenues.

High Schools Producing the Most Dropouts Identified
from John Hopkins report: "Locating the Dropout Crisis"

Graduation is hardly a given for freshmen in 2,000 of America's public high schools, according to a new study by researchers at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at The Johns Hopkins University.

Using data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics, researchers Robert Balfanz and Nettie Legters measured the "promoting power" of 10,000 regular and vocational high schools that enroll more than 300 students. They compared the number of freshmen in each school to the number of seniors there four years later.

The results gathered in their report, "Locating the Dropout Crisis," are troubling. They indicate that the dropout crisis is fueled by the 20 percent of high schools in which graduation is not the norm. These schools have "weak promoting power," or 40 percent or fewer seniors than the number of freshmen they enrolled four years earlier. Nearly half of the country's African American students and two out of five Latino students attend one of these "dropout factories," compared with just 11 percent of America's white students, the researchers said.

The study found that the high schools producing the largest number of dropouts are concentrated in 50 large and medium-sized cites and 10 southern and southwestern states. The study presents tables showing the number and concentration of high schools with weak promoting power by state (broken down by locale and minority concentration) and for the nation's 100 largest cities.

an Associated Press map @

Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorldCat

The Won't Learners: an answer to their cry
by Darlene Leiding.
Scarecrow Press, 2002

Dropouts in America: Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis
by Gary Orfield (Editor)
Harvard Education Publishing Group, 2004

Last Dropout: Stop the Epidemic!
by Bill Milliken
Hay House, Inc., 2007

Educating the Net Generation: How to Engage Students in the 21st Century
by Bob Pletka
Santa Monica Press, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Writer To Writer

Learning literacy: Learning to read turned David Springer's life around. In fact, it gave him a whole new life. Fresno Bee: 10.12.07 by Sarah Jimenez

VISALIA -- David Springer was never much of a reading fan. He dropped out of high school after his sophomore year because he couldn't focus in class. More than 20 years passed before he would start working toward his GED.

Now, Springer, 43, goes through two books a week. He's scheduled to take the last section of the GED test next week. And Saturday, he was honored as a finalist in the 2007 Writer to Writer Challenge, an annual statewide event for adult literacy learners.

Not bad for a man who battled alcoholism for much of his life and was again facing jail time a year and half ago.

"My mom always said, 'Dave, you're smart enough. You just got to apply it,'" he said. "And now it's clicking."

Springer credits the
Tulare County Library's literacy program and Visalia Rescue Mission for helping him get his life together.

He moved to Visalia from Mariposa County about a year and half ago after a judge sentencing him for alcohol-related charges told him he had two choices: jail time or the Visalia Rescue Mission.

At the mission, Springer decided to get sober and pursue his GED.

Springer said he could read basic information but never tried to improve his reading skills. And he never read for enjoyment.

Now, he looks forward to his Tuesday sessions at the literacy center and can't stop reading.

"I read cereal boxes, soup cans -- anything I can get my hands on," he said.

For the Writer to Writer Challenge, Springer wrote a letter to Stuart Woods, author of the thriller "Capital Crimes," about how he related to a character in the book.

There were about 140 entries in three categories: beginner, intermediate or advanced, said Jacquie Brinkley, library programs consultant for the California State Library.

Springer's letter was among 30 submitted for the advanced category. He was one of 10 finalists.

Patricia Habeck, library program and literacy specialist, Springer is the first finalist for the county.

Oct 6: Writer To Writer Awards Ceremony
Glendale Public Library - Glendale CA

Beginning Level:
Rudy Borboa, Orange County Public Library (READ/Orange County). The Pursuit of Happyness, by Chris Gardner
Intermediate Level:
Alejandrina Roldan, San Bernardino County Library, Newton T. Bass Apple Valley Branch Library. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
Advanced Level:
Lupe Beltran, Nevada County Library. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adelene Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
Presenters: Southern California Library Literacy Network - BALIT - CLLS

Video Highlights of 2005 Writer To Writer Ceremony @

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Doris Lessing - Nobel Prize

With age comes wisdom, and Lessing's Nobel Prize:
Doris Lessing sees the world change and gives it her spin. A Nobel Prize won't change that.
L A Times, Calendar: 10.23.07 by Kim Murphy

. . . . . on the State of Literature
Lessing has been making notes for her Nobel acceptance speech, in which she plans to explore the odd see-saw of literacy that seems to be seeping from her current world, Europe, back into her past one, Africa. . . .

"And the funny thing is, you see, there's a real irony here. While our part of the world are not terribly interested in reading, you go to the Third World, and they clamor for books. They see books as they used to be seen here, as an entrance to a new kind of education. I don't know if you've been to Africa, but it's, 'Please give me a book. Please send me a book. Please give me a leaf of paper.'

"I will talk about this in my Nobel talk: this great reverence for learning, for education, for books, seems to have left Europe and has gone somewhere else. And what will come out of that? Who knows? I don't know."

Doris Lessing @
BBC Interview @
Nobel Prize bio-bibliography @

Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorldCat

Time Bites
Harper Collins, 2005
~ in this collection of the very best of Doris Lessing's essays, we are treated to the wisdom and keen insight of a writer who has learned, over the course of a brilliant career spanning more than half a century, to read the world differently.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Prisons and Literacy

Program brightens kids' jail visitsContra Costa Times: August 16, 2007 by Sophia Kazmi

DUBLIN — Outside Santa Rita jail on a recent Saturday morning, it was business as usual.

Bored adult visitors were standing, some sitting, talking or listening to music, waiting for their names to be called. Depending on when their names got on the visitation list, the wait could last hours.

But this Saturday morning there was a little more life than usual.

Visiting kids, who normally would be standing with the adults, or maybe splayed on the ground playing video games, were checking out kid-friendly books like "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing" and "Ferdinand the Bull."

Others huddled with volunteersreading stories. Some took books to their moms for a private story time.

The past few months, kids who must spend hours waiting to visit someone at the jail have had more to look forward to, thanks to librarian Lisa Harris.

The Start With A Story program was born when Harris realized just how much time kids spent in line.

Each visiting day she saw them queued up, and she thought, "There's got to be something you can do with that population," she said. "They are just standing there for hours at a time."

Harris, the energetic Alameda County librarian in charge of the inmate literacy program, persuaded county library system to give the program a try. With money scraped together for a summer's worth of books, and permission to operate Saturday and Sunday mornings, Harris has created a simple but effective program that may be the first of its kind in the nation. READ ON
Audio Slideshow: Start With a Story

H.R. 1593: The Second Chance Act of 2007would provide reentry funding on the state and local level to support former prisoners' needs for housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment, education, employment and rebuilding family and community ties. If passed, H.R. 1593 would reduce recidivism and increase public safety by addressing the needs of prisoners preparing to return to communities from the criminal justice system.
HR 1593 Links
~ Washington Watch
~ Eric Digests

Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorldCat

Goddess of Justice:
The Condemned Children of America's Hardcore Illiterates
Gisela Gasper Fitzgerald
PublishAmerica, 2004

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Health Literacy Month

October is Health Literacy Month
~ from Literacy Tent’s ‘Health Literacy’ page:

Low health literacy is a silent epidemic that can lead to medial errors and poor health outcomes. In the effort to educate physicians about the problem of low patient health literacy, the American College of Physicians Foundation (ACP Foundation) is distributing a noteworthy video cataloguing the hidden epidemic of low health literacy in America that causes needless suffering to millions of patients and families each year –and translates to billions of dollars in unnecessary healthcare costs. READ ON - Watch Video

Save The Date: May 1 - 2, 2008
IHA Health Literacy Conference
"Health Literacy in Primary Care: Best Practices and Skill Building"
Hyatt Regency - Irvine, California
Scheduled Keynote Speaker: Richard H. Carmona, 17th Surgeon General

Health Literacy sites to check out
Health & Literacy Special Collection
~ resources, activities, easy-to-read material
Rhode Island Health Literacy Project
~ help our citizens to increase their health literacy through better understanding of health information and self-care instructions
Health Care Blog
~ everything you wanted to know about the Health Care System
But were afraid to ask
Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorlCat

Health Literacy From A to Z
by Helen Osborne
Jones & Bartlett Publishers

Monday, October 8, 2007

Recent Cightings: Literacy Blogs

Blogs on Parade - Literacy

Literacy Source - WA
~ build a literate community by providing learner-centered instruction to adults in English literacy and basic life skills

Naples High School Library Media Center:
Seen Outside And Reading ! - FL
~ the only high school south of Maryland to support a Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) program. Provides free books and dictionaries to students in our Intensive Reading and English as a Second Language classes as well as books for our in-house pre-school

Online Adult Literacy Centre – AU
~ Literacy News

Yukon Literacy Coalition
~ a Yukon-wide literacy organization that is community governed and committed to supporting and encouraging literacy in all the languages of the Yukon

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Banned Books Week

Banned Book Week: Sep 29 - Oct 6

APSU screens ‘Hollywood Librarian’
Clarksville Union: 9.29.07 by Christine Anne Piesyk

Ann Seidl’s documentary film, The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians Through Film will be screened at Austin Peay State University.

The screenings are being offered in tandem with a celebration of ‘intellectual freedom” known as Banned Books Week, which begins today and runs through October 6. This film includes perspectives on the controversial Patriot Act, views of the burning of John Steinbeck books in the 1930s, and an interview with Author Bay Bradbury.

This 2007 film examines the work of more than 60,000 librarians working in the United States. Libraries welcome more than one billion visitors a year.

READ ON and see a clip from the movie !

For information about “The Hollywood Librarian,” go online to documentary’s Web site:

A list of the most challenged Books of 2006.