Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Literacy 'Round the World

United Nations Human Development Report: 2007-2008

Released Tuesday, the UN Human Development Report lists countries in various categories according to overall rankings in terms of economic, health and social development. Categories include: Adult Literacy, Education Index, GDP, Internet Use.

Iceland leads in most categories, making it the world's most developed nation, according to the UN. Adult Literacy's Top 20:

1 Iceland 99
2 Norway 99
3 Australia 99
4 Canada 99
5 Ireland 99
6 Sweden 99
7 Switzerland 99
8 Japan 99
9 Netherlands 99
10 France 99
11 Finland 99
12 United States 99
13 Spain 99
14 Denmark 99
15 Austria 99
16 United Kingdom 99
17 Belgium 99
18 Luxembourg 99
19 New Zealand 99
20 Italy 98.4
for Tables: READ ON

and from UNESCO

Education for All by 2015: Will we make it ?

This report assesses progress towards the six education for all goals midway to the target date for achieving them -- 2015.

There have been some real gains since 2000:

~ the number of children starting primary school has increased sharply
~ there are more girls in school than ever before
~ spending on education and aid has risen

But poor quality, the cost of schooling for poor families and high levels of adult illiteracy are militating against the chances of achieving education for all.

UNESCO’s Sixth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI), a major strategic meeting to be held in Brazil, 2009.

an important platform for policy dialogue and advocacy on adult learning and non-formal education at global level, involving UNESCO Member States, United Nations agencies, multi-and bi-lateral cooperation agencies, organizations from civil society, the private sector and learners from all world regions.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

NEA:: To Read or Not To Read

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released, To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence, on Nov. 19th. A new and comprehensive analysis of reading patterns in the United States. To Read or Not To Read gathers statistics from more than 40 studies on the reading habits and skills of children, teenagers, and adults. The report reveals recent declines in voluntary reading and test scores alike, exposing trends that have severe consequences for American society.

"The new NEA study is the first to bring together reliable, nationally representative data, including everything the federal government knows about reading," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "This study shows the startling declines, in how much and how well Americans read, that are adversely affecting this country's culture, economy, and civic life as well as our children's educational achievement."

Americans are reading less - teens and young adults read less often and for shorter amounts of time compared with other age groups and with Americans of previous years.
~ Less than 33% of 13-year-olds are daily readers, a 14% decline from 20 years earlier.
~ Among 17-year-olds, the % of non-readers doubled over a 20-year period, from 9% in 1984 to 19 % in 2004.
~ On average, Americans ages 15-24 spend almost 2 hours a day watching TV, and only 7 minutes of their daily leisure time on reading.

Americans are reading less well – reading scores continue to worsen, especially among teenagers and young males. By contrast, the average reading score of 9-year-olds has improved.
~ Reading scores for 12th-grade readers fell significantly from 1992 to 2005, with the sharpest declines among lower-level readers.
~ 2005 reading scores for male 12th-graders are 13 points lower than for female 12th-graders, and that gender gap has widened since 1992.
~ Reading scores for American adults of almost all education levels have deteriorated, notably among the best-educated groups.
~ From 1992 to 2003, the % of adults with graduate school experience who were rated proficient in prose reading dropped by 10 points, a 20% rate of decline.

The declines in reading have civic, social, and economic implications – Advanced readers accrue personal, professional, and social advantages. Deficient readers run higher risks of failure in all three areas.
~ Nearly 2/3rd’s of employers ranked reading comprehension "very important" for high school graduates. Yet 38% consider most high school graduates deficient in this basic skill.
~ American 15-year-olds ranked 15th in average reading scores for 31 industrialized nations, behind Poland, Korea, France, and Canada, among others.
~ Literary readers are more likely than non-readers to engage in positive civic and individual activities – such as volunteering, attending sports or cultural events, and exercising.

To Read or Not To Read expands the investigation of the NEA's landmark 2004 report, Reading at Risk. While that report focused mainly on literary reading trends, To Read or Not To Read looks at all varieties of reading, including fiction and nonfiction genres in various formats such as books, magazines, newspapers, and online reading. Whereas the earlier report assessed reading among adults age 18 and older, To Read or Not To Read analyzes reading trends for youth and adults, and readers of various education levels.

some reactions:

Are we reading less? Are we reading worse? Probably not.
Stephen Krashen

The new report is likely to provoke as much debate as the previous one. Stephen Krashen, a professor emeritus of education at the University of Southern California, said that based on his analysis of other data, reading was not on the decline. He added that the endowment appeared to be exaggerating the decline in reading scores and said that according to federal education statistics, the bulk of decreases in 12th-grade reading scores had occurred in the early 1990s, and that compared with 1994 average reading scores in 2005 were only one point lower.

Timothy Shanahan, past president of the International Reading Association and a professor of urban education and reading at the University of Illinois at Chicago, suggested that the endowment’s report was not nuanced enough. “I don’t disagree with the N.E.A.’s notion that reading is important, but I’m not as quick to discount the reading that I think young people are really doing,” he said, referring to reading on the Internet. He added, “I don’t think the solutions are as simple as a report like this might be encouraging folks to think they might be.”

Reading & Writing @ Adult Literacy Programs:

Writer To Writer - CLLS, SCLLN, BALIT

Write to Read, Alameda County Library’s Adult Literacy Program, is proud to announce the publication of several student and staff writings in the September 2007 issue of The Change Agent, a national adult education newspaper for social justice.

DLC Adult Literacy Community:
We need to learn read and write as if our lives depended on it.

Read Write Now video: Learning is Power

Friday, November 23, 2007

Banned Books

Battle over books breaks out in Westhampton Beach 11.23.07 by Jennifer Barrios

A tiny Westhampton Beach bookstore has become the frontline in a battle over the written word.

Terry Lucas, owner of The Open Book on Main Street, has fortified her shop with handmade signs, the protests spelled out in glittery letters.

"We have fREADom," one poster reads. "Reading=good. Censorship=bad," another sparkles.

The decorations, made by local students, are in response to an effort by several parents to remove two books from Westhampton Beach High School's ninth-grade reading list over what the parents say is inappropriate sexual content.

"The Tenth Circle," by Jodi Picoult, and "Cradle and All," by James Patterson, currently sit on the list of more than 300 books from which ninth-graders must choose to read for course credit.

Several weeks ago, a group of parents, led by Georgia Joyce, of Remsenburg, filed a complaint with the district over the two books, said Westhampton Beach Superintendent Lynn Schwartz.
The following books on Westhampton Beach's ninth-grade reading list also appear on the American Library Association's list of most frequently challenged books of 1990-2000:

14. "The Giver," by Lois Lowry
23. "Go Ask Alice," by Anonymous
24. "Fallen Angels," by Walter Dean Myers
52. "Brave New World," by Aldous Huxley
59. "Ordinary People," by Judith Guest
74. "Jack," by A.M. Homes
92. "Running Loose," by Chris Crutcher
94. "The Drowning of Stephan Jones," by Bette Greene


Ontario Catholic school board pulls fantasy book following complaint about atheist author
International Herald Tribune: Nov 22, 07 – Associated Press

BURLINGTON, Ontario: The award-winning fantasy novel "The Golden Compass" was pulled from an Ontario Catholic school district's library shelves over a complaint about the author referring to himself as an atheist.

The public Catholic school board in Ontario's Halton region, which oversees 43 elementary and secondary schools, also pulled two other books in Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy as a precaution.

"We have a policy and procedure whereby individual parents, staff, students or community members can apply to have material reviewed. That's what happened in this case," Rick MacDonald, the Halton board's superintendent of curriculum services, said Wednesday.

Woman: Library violates city code Anti-obscenity activist files official complaint with cops
Sun Journal: Nov 20, 2007 by Daniel Hartill

LEWISTON - JoAn Karkos, due in court next month to answer a theft charge over a controversial sex-ed book she refused to return to the Lewiston Public Library, now wants the library to answer her allegation of obscenity.

Karkos, 64, gave Lewiston police a one-page complaint Monday charging that the library violated the city's obscenity ordinance when it placed "It's Perfectly Normal" on its shelves.

"No. 1, I want awareness," Karkos said in a phone interview. "People are simply not aware of what this book means. And when they find out, they don't want it to exist at all and they certainly don't want it in their libraries and their schools."

Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorldCat

Monday, November 19, 2007



How does playing the vocabulary game at FreeRice help me ?

Learning new vocabulary has tremendous benefits. It may make you smarter: may improve your speaking, writing, thinking . . . .
Click on the answer that best defines the word. If you get it right, you get a harder word. If wrong, you get an easier word.


FreeRice donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program for each word you get right.

The UN World Food Programme is proud to be the beneficiary of FreeRice.

FreeRice is a creative web-based vocabulary game that ties every correct answer to the donation of rice to WFP. The great thing is that the more you play FreeRice and the more you learn, the more rice we are able to purchase to feed hungry people around the world.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Baby Talk

Power of Talk

For children between birth and age 3, the most powerful number is 30,000.

That's the number of words children need to hear every day from their parents and caregivers to ensure optimal language development and academic success, according to the research of Drs. Betty Hart and Todd Risley and confirmed by Colorado-based Infoture, Inc., and their analysis of over 46,000 hours of speech data – the largest database of parent-child audio information in the world.

Children who hear at least 30,000 words per day will thrive regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Some key findings:

~ Parents estimated they talked more with their children than they actually did.

~ Parents of advanced children in the 90th to 99th percentile on language assessments spoke substantially more to their children than did parents of children who were not as advanced.

~ Most language training for children came from mothers, with mothers (both working and stay-at-home) accounting for 78 percent of total talk.

~ Mothers talked more to daughters than they did to sons.

~ Parents talked more to first-born children than to children who followed in the birth order.

~ Most adult talk between parent and child occurred in the late afternoon and early evening.

Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorlCat

Bright from the star:
the simple, science-backed way to nurture your child's developing mind, from birth to age 3
Jill Stamm; Gotham Books, 2007
~ Face Time, you are your baby’s first toy.
~ Play Time, the real work of play.
~ Down Time, doing nothing is important, too.
~ Everyday talk and Everyday reading !

Unplugged Play: No Batteries. No Plugs. Pure Fun.
Bobbi Conner; Workman, 2007
~ resource for parents seeking whimsical yet practical ways to unplug the electronics and promote the physical, cognitive and emotional benefits of plain, old-fashioned play.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Literacy President Campaign

Sign the Literacy President Petition
Raising the priority of adult literacy

The purpose of the Literacy President campaign is make adult education and literacy one of the top three education priorities for the next President. John Edwards and Barak Obama are the first candidates to share their views.

As a partner in the Literacy President campaign, VALUE is sponsoring a petition urging all of the presidential candidates to respond to five questions about adult literacy policy under the next Administration. Add your name to the petition.

John Edwards and Barak Obama have already responded to the questions.