Sunday, October 5, 2014

Literacy – Spanning the US: Contra Costa CA :: Wilkesboro, NC :: Atlanta GA :: Wisconsin

Literacy:  Spanning the U.S.

Contra Costa Juvenile Hall kids enjoy Bedtime Reading Program 
Mercury News: 9.07.2014 by Tom Barnidge

The Late Show, as it's called, begins at 10 p.m. A volunteer starts reading aloud into a P.A. system just as listeners are climbing into their beds. The 45-minute narration might feature anyone from Harry Potter to Katniss Everdeen to Winnie the Pooh, but the listeners are always the same -- youth offenders at Contra Costa Juvenile Hall.

Betty Frandsen founded the Bedtime Reading Program more than 22 years ago after getting to know some of the residents while playing cards with them as a volunteer.

"The kids told me they couldn't sleep because they lie alone in their cells and think about the horrors they've been through -- everything from parents who beat them to seeing their father or mother killed," she said. "I thought talking to them when they're trying to get to sleep might help."

About 140 youths, ages 13 to 20, are housed at the facility -- classified by gender, age and seriousness of offense before being assigned to one of seven units. Their criminal charges run the gamut, from probation violations to residential burglary and worse, but for the most part they share a fondness for the reading program.

"Kids can opt out," said chief probation officer Phil Kader. "They can ask us to turn off the speakers in their room. What we find is a high percentage prefer to listen."

They not only listen, they learn to value books. Juvenile Hall librarian Nadia Bagdasar said outsiders might be stunned how much they read -- "It's about six books per resident per week," she said -- and there's little doubt the bedtime program is a big reason. It's also why the library is named for Frandsen.  READ MORE !

25 years of teaching adults to read celebrated on Friday
Journal Patriot: 9.15.2014 by Frances Hayes

Twenty-five years of teaching people to read was celebrated Friday evening by staff, board members and friends of Wilkes Literacy.

Tommy Smithey, a local contractor and former student of Wilkes Literacy, praised the organization on Friday night.

“I was illiterate until I was 56,” said Smithey. “And then I learned to read three years ago because of Wilkes Literacy.

“Learning to read is the biggest accomplishment of my life.”

Smithey said he was one of 17 children and had many chores as a child. “Surviving was the most important thing. I was in trouble in school all the time and never really had the opportunity to learn to read.”

Three years ago, he began weekly tutoring sessions at Wilkes Literacy, then located on School Street, Wilkesboro.

“I could read blueprints, but I could not read words,” said Smithey, a successful local builder.

After about a year that changed. Now Smithey enjoys reading and frequently reads outloud to family members and friends.  READ MORE !

Guest column: Let’s not take literacy for granted
Neighbor Newspapers: 9.18.2014 by Austin Dickson

The ability to read is akin to breathing. If you breathe easily, you don’t think about it.

But if you struggle with breathing — with asthma, allergies or sensitivity to summer smog — you have a profound understanding of its importance in daily life.

More than 800,000 adults in the 10-county metro Atlanta region are low-literate. Their lack of basic reading skills hinders them from getting a job or a better job, and from day-to-day activities that many of us take for granted — like getting directions or reading a note from their child’s school.

This enormous social challenge isn’t limited to metro Atlanta. An estimated 1.2 million Georgians over 18 do not have a high school diploma and in many Georgia counties, more than one-third of adults don’t have a high school credential. Low literacy rates soar in these areas.

Gov. Nathan Deal has proclaimed this week, Monday through Friday, as Literacy Action Week. Throughout the state, hundreds of paid and volunteer teachers work with adult learners not just this week, but each week, to advance students towards stronger employment, high school equivalency completion, more fluent English, U.S. citizenship, vocational training, technical college or the university system. GED instructors at technical colleges, retired teachers in local libraries and volunteers at civic centers or religious congregations all work diligently to improve adults’ basic literacy.  READ MORE !

Far too many adults in Wisconsin lack literacy

How do you help children learn to read, write and do arithmetic?

You help their parents — too many of whom lack these skills.

It’s an often overlooked yet important strategy that can boost student performance in Madison schools and across Wisconsin. It also is key to helping adults gain employment, earn higher wages and pull their families out of poverty.

A national campaign this week seeks to highlight the importance of adult education and family literacy. Parents in literacy classes in Madison, Eau Claire, Oconto, Marinette and Milwaukee will be meeting in the coming days with state lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats — to show their success.

Early childhood education helps young people get off to a strong start. Yet “all of those things about early childhood and third-grade reading proficiency have to depend on parents who are engaged and reading — and so many times the parents are not,” said Michele Erikson, executive director of Wisconsin Literacy Inc.

One of every three Wisconsin citizens 16 or older lacks the literacy skills necessary to function above a basic level, according to Erikson. Understanding an error on a billing statement, signing up for health insurance or following directions on a medication label can be a struggle.

“Literacy isn’t just reading and writing anymore,” Erikson said last week. “It’s about connecting to computer skills and to the work force. It’s understanding how to communicate with your health provider, your doctor. It’s about getting engaged in your community and involved in your child’s schools.  READ MORE !

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