We Cannot Be Silent Anymore

Jim Galbraith for Kiwanis and Denton ISD.

What can we do for our society and for our future? Volunteer. Read with someone. Mentor.

Here are some sad figures on the impact of illiterate persons in our society and the challenges they too often face:

* Many drop-outs are roaming the streets seeking some source of income and too often illegal behavior leads to arrest; 85% of the youth in the jails are functionally illiterate.

* 70% of the adults in prison are functionally illiterate. The recidivism rate for prisoners who take reading and educational courses in prison is 27% while those who refuse instruction are at the 60% level of recidivism. Unfortunately, roughly two-thirds of prison inmates return to prison within a 3-year period.

* 75% of welfare recipients read at a functional level.

* Annual cost to correct our illiteracy problem in America is estimated to be $225 billion.

* Those with functional reading levels who are employed are only able to make minimum wages and often are the first to lose their job when lay-offs occur.

The level of literacy in this nation has remained static, unchanged in ten years. Even with the billions of dollars spent on early childhood educational experiences, America still struggles with this debilitating social weakness. What are some remedies that can help in the long haul effort to improve our level of literacy?

* Provide a variety of parenting classes through the local school system to prepare children at an early age to begin the pathway to reading ability. Parents must read to their kids.

* Have earlier assessment in the education system to detect reading skill deficiencies.

* Expand volunteer mentor programs to work with teachers and help in the effort.

* Civic and service organizations should invite local school officials to discuss the challenges faced in the classroom for those students who are ill-prepared to read.

* Support local college and university programs that provide reading development programs for those students at risk. We need more reading teachers in our system.

* Note that our local Denton ISD has 30,000 students and there is a need for 10,000 mentors! You can make a difference.

If you have questions and would like to learn more about mentoring, please contact Ms. Courtney Martin, DISD Community Specialist at [email protected]/940-369-0146.