Tuesday, June 7, 2016

READ/San Diego :: Reading Turns Woman’s Life Around

Reading turns woman’s life around
San Diego Union Tribune: 5.22.2016 by  John Wilkens

With its nationally ranked universities and thriving science and engineering hubs, San Diego County is increasingly known as a place for smart people. More than 60 percent of those who move here now have college degrees, according to one recent study.

It’s also home to almost a half-million adults who are illiterate. They can’t help their kids with homework, can’t fill out job applications, can’t read this story.

Amelia Sandoval used to be one of them.

Born in San Diego, she grew up in a household with a mother who was there in theory and a father who wasn’t there at all, she said. She was left alone sometimes with a TV and a cat as companions.

“School,” she said, “wasn’t really enforced.”

She stopped going in the fifth grade. Authorities put her in foster care, but she kept running away to hang out downtown. “I sold drugs, stole stuff and did whatever I wanted to do,” she said. “I had my own little crew.”

Stints in Juvenile Hall and child-protection receiving homes didn’t steer Sandoval from the course she was on. Being unable to read didn’t bother her much, either. “You don’t need to know how to read to pop open a car,” she said.

A letter she couldn’t read

When people hear Sandoval’s story, they sometimes ask whether her parents had books in the home when she was growing up.

“Books?” she replies. “We were lucky if we had furniture.”

That’s not unusual among adults who are illiterate, said Valerie Hardie, administrator for READ/San Diego, the city library’s adult literacy program, which is where Sandoval went for help. “They grew up in homes where the parents didn’t read well, there were no books in the home, and they couldn’t model a life of learning,” she said.

Others had health issues as children that took them out of school, or had learning disabilities that went undiagnosed or were poorly understood.  READ MORE @

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