Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Illiteracy: A Mind Is a Terrible Thing To Waste

Last week I received an invitation to speak at the annual Champions of Literacy luncheon hosted by the Literary Instruction For Texas (LIFT) organization. While I won’t be able to attend, as an author literacy is extremely important to me.

For most Americans, it’s hard to fathom there are people born and raised in the U.S. who either can’t read very well, or at all. Illiteracy impacts everything they do. Some statistics:
The average age of a LIFT student is 37.
Between 2004 and 2007, the number of adult learners participating in LIFT programs increased by 292%, from 2,103 to 6,141.
Texas holds the distinction of being the number one state in the nation with the highest number of high school dropouts.
But Texas is far from alone. Across the U.S. 42 million Americans cannot read at all, and another 50 million recognize so few printed words they are limited to a fourth or fifth grade reading level.
43% of those whose literacy skills are the lowest live in poverty. And the numbers are growing at an alarming rate.

Over the next several months I intend to do as much as I can to promote the problem of illiteracy in the U.S. while providing resources targeted towards helping people learn to read. There used to be an ad slogan, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” It still is.

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