January 24, 2012

Wake up, Austinites! Illiteracy = Poverty

Everyone was buzzing about the 2010 Census, and what kind of information it would bring us about the population changes we knew were happening in Central Texas. Well, after years of analysis and extrapolations by every federal department you can imagine, the data is clear; the number of people who are suffering from poverty is rising, and their lack of education has a LOT to do with it.

The most recent 2010 Census reports that nationally, about 20.1% of all households had income-to-poverty ratios less than 125% of the poverty threshold. Families in Central Texas are actually more impoverished than the national average. Now, in Travis County, one in three children is born in to an impoverished home. About one in five families in the Austin area is living in poverty.What you might also remember from other blog posts and reports of the Literacy Coalition is the statistic that one in five Austin area adults is low literate.


No way.

Research from the National Institute for Literacy clearly shows the connection of poverty and low literacy. Over 40% of adults with the lowest literacy levels are living in poverty, compared to only 4% of those with higher literacy skills.

I have a challenge for you! Talk about illiteracy every time you hear discussions about unemployment and poverty. Public dialogue is very focused on employment right now, yet public policy and funding continues to bypass literacy and adult education programming as an integral part of the solution to our economic crisis. Whenever you hear people talking about unemployment and the recession, share the 'one in five' statistic with them and tell them to learn more about literacy issues at the Literacy Coalition's web site:


Help Austin area residents to have a more informed, thoughtful public dialogue. That is the first step to climbing out of the economic mess we've gotten ourselves in to.

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