Sunday, November 20, 2016

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Santa Fe NM :: Columbia SC :: Dallas TX

Literacy Volunteers

Our view: Step up for reading

In reading and literacy, as with so many things, Santa Fe is a tale of two cities.

It’s a town where a local newspaper still thrives and where independent bookstores prosper — words matter here. Yet, U.S. census figures indicate some 34 percent of the population is illiterate with 31 percent of the people having only a basic understanding of English. That’s 20,000 or so of our neighbors who need help reading, writing and speaking English. Many citizens of Santa Fe can’t, don’t and won’t read, missing the opportunities for joy, promotion at work and entertainment that reading can provide.

That’s why Literacy Volunteers of Santa Fe does what it does, provide free tutoring to adults who want to become better readers or who desire to learn English. Now in its third decade of providing such essential services, the nonprofit is sponsoring its annual Santa Fe Reads on Sunday.

A literate, educated population is key to improving the economy and building citizens who are informed about the issues of the day (surely, this election season has shown how necessary an educated populace is). That’s where Literacy Volunteers contributes.

Since 1985, more than 4,287 trained tutors have provided some 464,969 hours of instruction. That has assisted more than 12,629 adult students obtain essential skills. All told, this effort represents volunteer contributions close to $10 million.  READ MORE @

Free Program Teaches Adults How to Read and Write
WLTX: 10.26.2016 by Lana Harris

Some people may not be able to imagine living their entire lives without knowing how to read, write or do arithmetic, but that is the reality for many people in the midlands. Turning Pages, a nonprofit adult literacy organization, is trying to change that.

"Things that we take for granted, adults with learning challenges face all the time," said Chris Matthews, the director for Turning Pages.

Matthews says it is more than just not being able to read a book. The inability to read makes it difficult to navigate a grocery store, follow street names, or read labels on food and medicine.

"Those words are too difficult for them," Matthews says, "It's like they're living on an island of misunderstanding."

"It's hard," said 39-year-old James Pratt, "You have to be around somebody who knows how to read."

Pratt says he was passed through his high school classes without ever knowing how to read.

Matthews says a person is never too old to learn how to read or write. Their eldest student is 86-year-old Eartha Halmon.  VIDEO

Dallas needs to step up efforts to reduce illiteracy
Dallas News: 10.28.2016 Editorial

Education is the best way out of poverty. But if you can't speak English, the paths to a prosperous future are very limited.

In Dallas, demographics and the lack of basic English-language skills work against too many of our neighbors. Literacy Instruction for Texas projects that by 2030, about 1 million of Dallas County's projected 3.5 million residents will not be literate in English. ---That's nearly a third of the projected population. 

Even now in Dallas, more than 35 percent of adults in households that make less than $12,000 annually did not complete high school; half of them read below a basic level.

Experts project that much of the illiteracy rate, which is expected to grow faster than the population rate, is driven by immigration. Dallas must fully recognize this brewing crisis and find new ways to help people obtain the language skills that would make them — and the city — more prosperous.  We must strategically invest in expanding the quality of and access to language skills.

"It is going to take an intense intervention to turn this ship around," said Lisa Hembry, president of Literacy Instruction for Texas, which runs adult literacy programs in North Texas.

If you think this doesn't affect you, think again. A city with a growing number of people who lack basic English skills is a city in crisis. Illiteracy discourages business relocations, puts pressure on the tax base, contributes to the crime rate, escalates health care costs and keeps our fellow residents from reaching their full potential. An adult who is unable to read or write in English is likely to stay poor and mire the next generation in a hard-to-break cycle of poverty, too.

A 1 percent rise in literacy scores more than doubles labor productivity, experts say.  READ MORE @

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