Friday, June 27, 2008

Reach Higher, America - National Commission on Adult Literacy

Reach Higher, America:
Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce is the final report of the
National Commission on Adult Literacy

Executive Summary

Education drives the economy. Almost a decade into the 21st Century, America faces a choice: We can invest in the basic education and skills of our workforce and remain competitive in today’s global economy, or we can continue to overlook glaring evidence of a national crisis and move further down the path to decline.

In Reach Higher, America, the National Commission on Adult Literacy presents powerful evidence that our failure to address America’s adult education and workforce skills needs is putting our country in great jeopardy and threatening our nation’s standard of living and economic viability. The Commission recommends immediate action to reverse the course we are on.

It calls for strong, bold leadership from federal and state government, and it challenges business leaders, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector to become part of the solution.

America is losing its place as a world leader in education, and in fact is becoming less educated. Among the 30 OECD free-market countries, the U.S. is the only nation where young adults are less educated than the previous generation.

And we are losing ground to other countries in educational attainment. More and more, the American economy requires that most workers have at least some postsecondary education or occupational training to be ready for current and future jobs in the global marketplace, yet we are moving further from that goal.

By 1 set of measures, more than 88 million adults have at least one major educational barrier — no high school diploma, no college, or ESL language needs.

With a current U.S. labor force of about 150 million (16 and older), a troubling number of prime working age adults likely will fall behind in their struggle to get higher wage jobs, or to qualify for the college courses or job training that will help them join or advance in jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage.

More than 2/3’s of the workforce is beyond the reach of the schools. Yet our current adult education system — designed for a different time and different challenges — is not equipped to address this urgent national need. Federal adult education, training, and English language programs reach only about 3 million adults a year.

~ U.S. Scores Poorly Internationally
. . . The U.S. is the only country among 30 OECD free-market countries where the current generation is less well educated than the previous one.
. . . The U.S. is also losing ground in international comparisons in terms of high school diplomas and college degrees awarded.
. . . Further, while we score as one of the highest countries in numbers of well educated people we also score near the top in the largest number of people at the lowest education levels — a form of inequality that affects all Americans.
. . . Minority groups — whose numbers, in some cases, are increasing as a percentage of overall population growth—are disproportionately at the low end of educational attainment, especially Hispanics, blacks, and American Indians/Alaska Natives.
. . . About 55 % of adults at the lowest literacy levels did not graduate from high school and have no GED or high school equivalency diploma.

~ High School Dropout Rates Are Staggering
. . . Every year, 1 in 3 young adults — more than 1.2 million people drop out of high school. Even more alarming, many high school graduates who do complete high school lack basic skills and readiness for job training and college.

~ Low Parent Learning Affects Children
. . . 1 in 4 U.S. working families is low-income, and 1 in 5 children lives in poverty. Parents and caregivers in many of these households lack the education and skills to earn a family-sustaining wage.

~ Low Literacy in Burgeoning Prison Population
. . . 1 in every 100 U.S. adults 16 and older is in prison or jail in America (about 2.3 million in 2006).

. . . About 43 % do not have a high school diploma or equivalent, and 56% have very low literacy skills. 95 % of incarcerated people return to our communities.

. . . It is hard enough for them to find jobs burdened with a prison record, but it is nearly impossible without the necessary education and basic skills.

~ Large and Growing English Language and Literacy Need
. . . About 2 million immigrants come to the U.S. each year seeking jobs and better lives — the promise of America.

. . . About 50 % of them have low literacy levels and lack high school education and English language skills, severely limiting their access to jobs and job training, college, and citizenship.

~ Aging of the Baby Boomers
. . . About 8,000 people turn 60 every day. As these “baby boomers”leave the workforce, their places are being taken by the smaller cohort of workers born in the mid-to-late 1960s and early 1970s. As a result, the U.S. workforce is increasing more slowly and, without intervention, is likely to become less educated on average.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

George Carlin

1 of the 27 things that George Carlin knew:
from "What I've Learned: George Carlin by Larry Getlen – Esquire article

It's amazing to me that literacy isn't considered a right.

So light some candles, Woodja !

George Carlin - HighBridge, 2000

See what other stuff your local library has by one of our greatest comedians. Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorldCat

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Oregon Literacy, Inc. Closing After 40 Years of Service

Oregon Literacy, Inc. Closing After 40 Years of Service

The Portland-based nonprofit cites fundraising difficulties as the sole reason for closure of the literacy service organization.

PORTLAND – Citing financial problems resulting from fundraising difficulties, Oregon Literacy, Inc. has closed its doors, effective immediately. Oregon Literacy is a 40-year-old Oregon nonprofit with the mission of strengthening local and regional literacy programs, and supporting volunteer tutors that provide adult learners literacy services.

“It is with great respect for the history of the organization that the Board of Directors came to the decision to dissolve the nonprofit,” said Board of Directors president Jenni Newby. “Oregon Literacy has always been committed to promoting adult literacy in Oregon and it is unfortunate that the financial realities have resulted in the closure of this worthwhile organization,” Newby said.

The Board of Directors is working with partner organizations to ensure the continuation of important Oregon Literacy programs, like the ESOL Initiative, the LearnerWeb Project, the Literacy Line, and the Chalk it Up for Literacy event. Although the organization has closed, it is anticipated that programs previously supported by Oregon Literacy will find new homes with other literacy advocates.

Oregonians seeking literacy services can also contact local organizations directly; a service directory is available from the State of Oregon.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Kids & Family Reading Report: 2008

a national survey of 1002 individuals -- 501 children (5 to 17 years old) and one parent or primary guardian per child. Interviews took place through mall-intercepts in 25 major cities across the country from Jan - Feb, 08.

The survey was designed and analyzed by the staffs at Scholastic and Yankelovich. Quotas for gender and children’s age were established to ensure ample base sizes for analysis purposes.

Some key findings from the survey:

89 % - say “My favorite books are the ones I picked out myself.”
68 % - say they love or like reading books for fun a lot
~ ~ 72 % of girls ~ ~ 63 % of boys
50 % - say there aren’t enough really good books for boys/girls their age

Technology and Reading:
~ Both boys and girls (age 9-17) say that they prefer to read books rather than read things on the Internet when they want to use their imagination
~ Boys are more likely to say the Internet is better than books when they want to read for fun ~ ~ Girls choose books
~ 2 of 3 children believe that within the next 10 years, most books which are read for fun will be read digitally – either on a computer or on another kind of electronic device

Parents’ Role:
82 % - say they wish kids would read books for fun more often
~ Parents who read books for fun daily are 6 times more likely than low frequency reading parents to have kids who also read for fun daily
~ Parents are a key source of book suggestions for their children, but nearly 50% all parents say they have a hard time finding information about books their child would enjoy reading, and especially parents of teens age 15-17

Other sites of interest:
The Screen Actors Guild Foundation wants to send a clear message: Our children and their education matter !

Family Literacy Centers assist families and individuals to effectively read, write and communicate in English with one-to-one tutoring assistance from trained volunteers, teachers, and parents.

National Council of Teachers of English
What Can Family Literacy Look Like ? What can we do at home ?

This list of suggested activities is short, and is designed only as a springboard for your own ideas. Begin with an activity you can do easily and comfortably with your children. Then add those activities that work especially well for you and your children.

+ NCTE's Parent's Guide to Literacy for the 21st Century

Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorldCat

Beyond Bedtime Stories: A Parent's Guide to Promoting Reading, Writing, and Other Literacy Skills from Birth to 5
by V. Susan Bennett-Armistead, Nell K. Duke, Annie M. Moses - Scholastic, 2007

Fast Start: Getting Ready to Read: A Research-Based, Send Home Literacy Program With 104 Reproducible Poems & Activities That Ensures Reading Success for Every Child
by Timothy Rasinski - Scholastic, October 2008

Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever
by Mem Fox - Harcourt, July 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

English Spelling

English is too hard to read for children
Baffling spelling system is blamed as literacy falls short of level in other European nations
EducationGuardian: June 8, 2008 by Anushka Asthana (The Observer)

The English spelling system is 'absolutely, unspeakably awful'. That is the conclusion of new research that has found that children face 800 words by the age of 11 that hinder their reading because of the way they are spelt.

Monkey, asparagus, spinach, caterpillar, dwarf, banana, hankerchief, pliers, soldiers, stomach, petal and telescope have all been included on the long list of words that baffle children because they contain letter combinations that are more commonly pronounced in a different way.

The words have all been identified as problematic for reading, as opposed to writing, because of their 'phonic unreliability', according to the study The Most Costly English Spellings. It was presented yesterday at the conference of the Spelling Society, held at Coventry University. Masha Bell, the literacy researcher who carried out the work, argued that there were 200 words on the list that could be improved by simply dropping 'surplus letters' such as the 'i' in friend or the 'u' in shoulder.

Bell argued that the spelling system was a huge financial burden on schools and was to blame for poor literacy results compared with the rest of Europe. In Finland, where words are more likely to be pronounced as they look, children learn to read fluently within three months, she said. In the UK, academics have found that it takes three years for a child to acquire a basic level of competence. The tricky spellings make English particularly difficult for children with dyslexia and those from disadvantaged families, who are less likely to be read to regularly by their parents. READ MORE

100 of the most difficult words

Orange, foreign, rhinoceros, properly, vomit, tambourine, tournament, tourist, heaven, engine, exquisite, opposite, advertisement, gnarled, rigid, risen, sinister, spinach, video, vinegar, tie, wheelie, quiet, science, crier, pliers, soldier, Monday, mongrel, monkey, courage, magic, manage, palace, four, journey, gnash, gnaw, gnome, ghastly, guard, miracle, miserable, pigeon, pity, prison, month, mother, nothing, once, smother, son, sponge, tongue, wonder, almost, both, comb, ghost, gross, most, only, post, programme, deny, reply, July, obey, caterpillar, chapel, damage, dragon, fabulous, family, famished, garage, glacier, habit, hazard, hexagonal, imagine, panic, radish, miaow, powder, cauliflower, plant, pyjamas, raft, rather, salami, task, vast, kiosk, kiwi, machine, encourage, somersault, swollen, souvenir.

Understanding English Spelling
by Masha Bell – Pegasus, 2004

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Father's Day and Literacy

Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED) is a program designed to encourage fathers, grandfathers, and other positive male role models to read to their children on a daily basis. The program aims to increase father involvement in children's literacy development and to improve the quality of father-child relationships. Developed by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, an educational agency affiliated with the Texas A&M System.

Literacy Starts with the Family . . . And that Means Dads Too
by Willa C. Siegel, Barry Gary, and Jacqueline Davis

The impact of the connection between family literacy and fathers is powerful. Whether dads read bedtime stories, talk about the sports page, make a grocery list, write a child’s name, or explain the directions for a toy, they are presenting opportunities for their children to develop language and literacy skills. They are raising future writers and readers—and future writers and readers are future leaders (Darling 2004) . . . an excerpt from Head Start Bulletin

The Role of Fathers in Their Child's Literacy Development: Pre-K
Reading Rockets (2008)

Did you know that reading with your preschool child can lead to better school performance later on? Studies show that when fathers participate in learning, children receive higher marks, enjoy school more, and are less likely to repeat a grade. Reading time creates a bond between you and your child that will stay with you both forever.

What if I don't like reading ?
~ Tell stories about when you were young
~ Recite nursery rhymes or jingles
~ Read environmental print: road signs or brand names on food containers
~ Ask your child about his day:
~ ~ conversation with adults helps children learn new words
~ Check out books of photography or art and talk about the pictures
~ When you are doing household projects, describe what you are doing
~ Involve your child in everyday writing tasks like shopping lists or paying bills
~ Create games that use letters, words, or problem solving
~ Use the language you are most comfortable speaking!
~ ~ Reading skills transfer between languages
~ ~and you will be better at playing with words in your native tongue

some sites to check out:

Parenting Tips for Dads - Because Dads Don't Always Think Like Moms
~ read aloud tips and books

Fathers Reading Everyday (from Dads Make a Difference Conference)
~ PowerPoint presentation
~ html version

10000 Fathers Reading
National Library Board of Singapore

Read On @ Your Local Library: CalCat or WorldCat
Every Friday
by Dan Yaccarino – Henry Holt, 2007

Daddy's Song
by Leslea Newman – Henry Holt, 2007

Perfect Day
by Remy Charlip – HarperCollins, 2007

When Daddy's Truck Picks Me Up
by Jana Novotny Hunter – Albert Whitman, 2006