Tim James recently made headlines by suggesting that people who can’t pass the Alabama driver’s test in English would not be safe drivers. But what about all the Alabamians who speak English and just can’t read?
Why are we concerned about this? Not because of road signs. Literacy and poverty are directly linked: 43% of adults with low literacy skills live in poverty (Birmingham Metro, “Illiteracy’s Devastating Impact on Alabama”). And our literacy woes are directly related to our education system. In a 2007 assessment of 8th graders’ reading levels nationwide, the average student score in Alabama was lower than 48 other states.*
This video from the Literacy Council shows the impact of illiteracy on individuals:
How do we solve this problem?
- Mentoring can make a difference in the life of one child or young adult. Mentors can help identify literacy problems early, encourage a love of reading, and read aloud to younger children.
- Public libraries play a large part in helping young kids to read. Birmingham’s Mayor William Bell recently proposed closing public libraries as part of budget cuts, and school and public libraries across the state are facing financial woes. Support your local library by joining their library guild or Friends of the Library program.
- Become a literacy tutor. The literacy council identifies 90,000 adults who need help improving their reading skills.
Posted by Robyn Hyden