Sunday, July 13, 2014

Literacy – Spanning the US: Tulare Co CA :: Orange Co CA :: Lumpkin Co GA

Literacy:  Spanning the U.S.

County faces illiteracy rates higher than the state average
Visalia Times Delta: 7.05.2014 by Stephanie Weldy

Tulare County could easily be called the land of milk and honey.


The county touts itself as the No. 1 dairy county in the state and nation with annual milk production exceeding $1.8 billion in 2012 — when it also pumped out a total of 10,240,000 pounds of honey.

What this agriculturally rich land isn't so abundant in is resources that push for educational attainment among residents.

In Tulare County, 32 percent of residents were illiterate in 2003 when the California average was 23 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Department of Education. And in 2008, the County of Tulare put the adult functional illiteracy rate in the county at 41 percent.

"When you talk about why people don't read or what's going on in Tulare County, it's a lack of educational attainment and a lack of success," said Tulare County Librarian Jeff Scott. "You go to school, you go to college and that's your way. But that's so foreign to a lot of the communities here because they're not finishing school. They're not being successful in that way. There's a lot of rural poverty. They don't value that. And a lot of that comes from the generations going back to working in the fields."

Is this rural landscape that relies heavily on low-skilled workers responsible for low educational attainment and a high illiteracy rate in the county?

Few bookstores dot the Tulare County landscape and no public four-year universities are in its borders.

In 1989, when University of California regents wanted to add three campuses to the public university system, a Tulare County University of California Task Force ultimately failed at attracting the regents to Visalia with a land donation of 2,000 acres.

Scott said the fact of high illiteracy rates in the county is evidenced in how much the Tulare County Library — with a total of 15 branches — spends for library services per person.

While the average county library spends $20 to $25 per person served by the library each year, he said, the Tulare County system spends only $10 per person.
-"It's a lot of this area — it's like a third world country," Scott said. READ MORE !

Congratulations to Pat Tonini!
READ/OC Honoree for the 2014 Spirit of Volunteerism Award!
READ Writes: Spring 2014

Pat Tonini has been a volunteer with READ/Orange County, since 2008. She started out as a volunteer literacy tutor, helping adult learners reach their reading and writing goals.

As a tutor, she is patient, supportive, and encouraging.  She shared, “My first student was American born, middle-aged and very motivated.  I saw him really blossom more and more each year.  He was brave enough to go on a trip with a friend to Las Vegas because he was finally able to read the signs and know where he was. He had always been too afraid to travel before.”

“My current learner is an ESL student and it is much more difficult because he doesn’t know our culture and idioms.  He works in a gas station and once a customer asked him to “break a hundred‟ and he had no idea what that meant.”  Pat has been able to help both of these learners make great progress towards their learning goals.  READ MORE !

Helping Lumpkin residents learn to read for 40 years

Forty years ago the Pioneer Cooperation Education Service Agency hired a part time instructor to teach adult reading in Lumpkin County. That simple act led to the formation of Lumpkin Literacy, a non-profit, all-volunteer organization, that has led Lumpkin’s literacy and adult learning efforts for four decades.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Lumpkin Literacy (formerly known as the Lumpkin County Literacy Coalition) operates with one mission in mind—raising literacy rates in our county.

“We estimate that over 3,000 non and low-readers live here in Lumpkin,” says Donna Gessell, Chair of the Lumpkin Literacy Board of Directors. “These are people who can’t read job applications or employee manuals, medical prescriptions, or even the labels on grocery items. Add in the fact that almost 30 percent of these, who are 25 and older, do not have a high school diploma or a GED, and you can see the issues facing our organization and our county.”

To address this Lumpkin Literacy offers three free programs: The Adult Learning program which teaches adults to learn to read or improve their reading skills; free ESL (English as a Second Language) tutoring; and free GED classes, at both the Adult Education Center and the County Detention Center, as well as financial support to offset the costs of testing.

Lumpkin Literacy’s work isn’t limited just to adults. The volunteer group also supports the educational efforts of the Lumpkin County School System as a grant partner with the 21st Century (After School Program) Community Learning Center. In addition, each spring they team up with Lumpkin County High School’s Key Club to give each 3rd grader a Webster Dictionary and each 8th grader a thesaurus. “For some children, that dictionary or thesaurus may be the only book in their home,” says Gessell.  READ MORE !

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