Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The values of reading, writing
Santa Maria Times: February 13, 2007

Santa Maria officials have announced a collaborative effort to promote adult literacy. Why is this important?

A good question, with a vast array of good answers. For example:

Fifty million Americans cannot read or comprehend above the eighth-grade level. Existing literacy programs involve fewer than 10 percent of those adults.

U.S. schools have a dropout rate approaching 30 percent, compared to 5 percent in Japan and 2 percent in Russia. Many kids leave school early because they can't read or write as well as their peers. They're embarrassed and retreat into a shell of illiteracy.

The inability to read and write costs U.S. businesses more than $225 billion a year. Nearly two-thirds of prison inmates are illiterate. Almost 90 percent of juvenile offenders are illiterate. Almost half of adults who receive welfare are illiterate. Nearly three-quarters of those who can't or won't hold a job are illiterate.

And here is a compelling reason why literacy is important, at least in this country - as an individual's literacy rate doubles, so does that person's income.

So, in a very real way, literacy has a big payoff and is a worthwhile investment.

The Santa Maria program is a joint effort by the city and the Central Coast Literacy Council, but judging from the data on illiteracy, this should be everyone's concern.

The hope is to create a literacy center at the new library, with a focus on native-born, English-speaking American citizens who, for whatever reason, cannot read and write at even junior high school levels. The Literacy Council is conducting remedial classes, but only eight people are currently enrolled.

This is a project in which you can play a direct role. The council needs volunteers, and two training workshops are being held next month for anyone who is interested. Training is slated for March 17 and 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the United Way, 1660 S. Broadway. For more information, call 922-9200.

If you can help, please do so. A more literate community will be a better community.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Santa Maria Public Library

City, Literacy Council team up for program
Santa Maria Times: Feb 11, 2007 by Malia Spencer

The city of Santa Maria and the Central Coast Literacy Council are partnering to create an adult literacy program.Officials hope to target English-speaking adults who are unable to read and write at proficient levels with a literacy center that will be part of the new Santa Maria Library.Currently, the literacy council offers one-on-one tutoring for about eight adults, said Isa Ponce executive director for the Central Coast Literacy Council

The organization's main focus has been teaching English as a second language, Ponce said. For that program, the agency has about 150 students at various locations throughout Santa Barbara County.To establish an adult literacy center at the new library, the city applied for funds from the California Library Literacy Service. Santa Maria was one of three facilities statewide to receive such funds, according to city staff.For each of the next three years, Santa Maria will receive $34,500, and in subsequent years the funding will be based on a formula.As long as the program is viable, the funding will be ongoing, said Santa Maria Librarian Francisco Pinneli.

“What this grant will do ... is target adults, native-born English speakers, who fall between the cracks and are not reading at a sixth-grade level,” he said. “It makes it difficult for them to function fully within society.”By offering literacy training to those who need it, lives can be dramatically changed, Pinneli added.

Since funds for the program are available now and library construction completion is more than a year away, the service will be offered at the Central Coast Literacy Council offices, 521 E. Chapel St., Suite B.Eventually, the Chapel Street location will be closed and the literacy council will move into a 449-square-foot center within the library.

The literacy council has been providing services to Santa Maria since 1983. It has 42 volunteers working out of six centers in Santa Maria, one in Guadalupe and one in Solvang.

Ponce noted that the organization needs volunteers, and two training workshops are being held in March for anyone who is interested.

Training is slated for March 17 and 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the United Way, 1660 S. Broadway.For more information about the Central Coast Literacy Council, call 922-9200.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

San Bernardino County Library

Share Gift of Reading, Writing
Hi-Desert Star's View: February 9, 2007

The ability to read and write is a wonderful treasure, opening up worlds of exploration and expression for those to whom it has been given. For them the world is an exciting place filled with ever-changing possibilities.

On the other hand, the inability to read and write is a terrible burden, particularly for adults who are faced with that limitation every day while they struggle to earn a living or simply deal with the business of living.

For them the world is a threatening place filled with reminders of their failures and limitations, a place seemingly filled with snares, traps and entanglements.

The good news for all of these people is there is an organization, here in the Morongo Basin, where those adults who have the gift, the ability to read and write, can pass that ability on to those in need.

The organization, which can be found at the Twentynine Palms Library, is the Morongo Basin Coalition for Adult Literacy. Its mission is to bring tutors and those adults who need help with their language skills together and, through that meeting, spread the gift of literacy throughout the Basin.

Not everyone has the time and talent to be a tutor. For those who are not so inclined, fortunately, there is another way to help the cause of literacy.

Every year the coalition, with help from The Desert Trail, the Hi-Desert Star and Hi-Desert Publishing Co., puts on a little fund-raiser in the form of the Spell-A-Thon.

Teams of three gather every year at the Helen Gray Education Center on the Hi-Desert Medical Center campus to raise money for the cause and see who can spell increasingly arcane terms most proficiently.

Supporters help their teams by pledging money, either a lump sum or a set amount for every word the team spells correctly. They also support their teams by attending the free event and cheering on spellers.

As we do each year, the Hi-Desert Star is putting together a team of spellers and challenges others to do the same.

We also urge those teams which do sign up to outdo themselves in the category of pledge gathering. The ability to read is a wonderful gift. Let’s all make sure it is enjoyed by as many people as possible.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Orange Co Library - Literacy and the Pursuit of Happiness

Literacy and the Pursuit of HappinessOC Register: Jan 24, 2007 by Jenny Sokol

Antonio (Tone) Correa will be 98 next month and the man shows no sign of slowing down. Why should he? "I'm busy," the Orange resident explains. "It's what keeps me young."

Busy indeed. Correa drives himself to the senior center where he loves to dance. He's writing three books. In his spare time, Correa volunteers with READ Orange County, the adult literacy program of the Orange County Public Library.

Bob West, outreach volunteer coordinator for READ/OC, estimates that Correa has spent well over 2,000 hours teaching 40 adults to read and write in the past decade.

An estimated 350,000 to 450,000 people in Orange County, and one in every five adults nationwide, are considered functionally illiterate. READ/OC works to reduce those numbers with its confidential, no-cost tutoring program.

Programs offered include Families for Literacy, where parents learn alongside their preschool-age children; Working for Inmate Literacy Now, where prisoners in O.C. jails hone their literacy skills; and English Language and Civics Education, where nonnative English speakers cover subjects ranging from nutrition to employment skills.

As for Correa's students, a few are learning English as a second language. "I tutor a Korean student who wants help with pronunciation," Correa says. At one time, Correa worked with a 72-year-old man who couldn't read or write but was finally ready to learn.

Currently, Correa tutors four learners twice a week, for a total of 16 weekly volunteer hours. "I'm just interested in helping," says Correa.

"See, I'm retired," he explains. "I take it easy. I don't worry about a thing. But as long as there are people who need help, I'll help." READ MORE

Give The Gift
of reading and writing to adult learners in
California library literacy programs from Santa Barbara to San Diego