February 15, 2011

The Invisible Challenge

When we tell people that one in five adults struggles with literacy to the extent that they can't fill out a job application, we almost always see shock and disbelief in their faces. I, too, doubted the statistics, until I really dug in to the data and the validity of the sources. And I have to say, it's true. Not only is it true, but I now understand why it's so unbelievable. The issue of illiteracy is, by nature, an invisible one. You most often cannot tell when you come across someone who is struggling with literacy issues. Which makes this issue one of the most pervasive challenges in our community and communities across the nation. There is very little attention to the literacy challenges of families around us; very little government dollars are invested in literacy instruction in the state of Texas and locally. General awareness of the prevalence and consequences of the issue is very low. So, we continue to allow the snowball of a problem to silently worsen. Because of our collective low investment in literacy instruction for adults, kids enter school way behind, and are much more likely to drop out. Then they have children that struggle in school, and the cycle continues. The beauty of the issue of literacy is that the solution is so simple. When people have access to high quality instruction, they change their own lives, and the lives of their children. We hear everyday about the transforming effect of literacy programs. It's not uncommon to hear things like "I never really though I could learn," or "I never had goals for myself, but now I know I have what it takes to become a nurse." Research shows very clearly that when a parent enters a literacy program, the child does better in school and is much less likely to drop out. And when those parents have access to good instruction, they are finally able to lift the invisible weight off their shoulders and pursue their dreams. That's why we do what we do! Thanks for helping us make it possible.

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