THE LITERACY ISSUE IN BROWARD
Why Literacy? Why Now?
With a 22% illiteracy rate in
Broward County, 5000 people moving into the state each month who cannot read English, and
school dropout rates that continue to be too high in the State of Florida, there has never
been a more important time to support literacy.
The technological revolution,
the digital divide and nearly one-fifth of our county's adult population left out of it
with no basic skills complicates the matter further.
Literacy is a moving, growing
target nationally and in Broward County. The rates are increasing, and not enough adults
are in training. With over 272,000 adults who could benefit, only some 54,000 are in
training. That figure shows that more adults are being served here than in other areas,
but it's still not enough. Not nearly enough.
One out of five Broward
County adults functions at a low level of literacy.
For example, he or she
cannot locate an intersection on a street map, complete a social security card application
or write a letter. These adults cannot read to their preschoolers and assist school-age
children with homework. And yet, fewer than 20 percent of these adults, who would benefit
from literacy programs, are currently being served.
The percentage of adults at
this low literacy level in Broward is about the same as the nation's as a whole, according
to the National Adult Literacy Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education in
1992. But Broward also has areas where literacy is an even more severe problem.
Eight municipalities exceed
the nation in residents functioning at low-literacy levels. In Lauderdale Lakes, for
example, 37 percent of the population is at the lowest literacy level; in Dania, the rate
is 34 percent, Hallandale, 32 percent. Because the standard definition of literacy
measures proficiency in English, immigration since this 1992 study has probably resulted
in even high rates of literacy problems in Broward County. A new study is scheduled for
Broward County has several
providers of literacy services -- the school system through its adult education classes,
the library through its one-on-one tutoring programs, plus church- and community-based
If we are to address this
severe literacy problem, however, these efforts must be stepped up with an influx of new
volunteers, additional students and new and innovative ways to raise public awareness.
About the Children
Poverty is linked with multigenerational illiteracy.
In Broward, 103,00 children
under 5, est. 15-25% of children under 18 living in poverty at or near the poverty line
(200 % is working poor). Eleven (11) zip codes in Broward have households with income less
Children who live in
print-rich environments and are read to during the first years of life are much more
likely to learn to read on schedule. Parents of children living in poverty may lack the
money to buy books, may not have easy access to good children's books, and may not
themselves have been read to as children, with the result that millions of children are
growing up without books.
If you can reach young
children early ( as early as 6 mos. ) to begin appreciation for education, books and
reading, you can help break the cycle. By the third grade, according to most research,
children who haven't gained pre-literacy skills from parents or through an intervention
will most likely have problems with reading and will have difficulty reading at grade
level and taking on more difficult reading assignments.
contributes to school failure, which increases the risk of absenteeism, school dropout,
juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy - all of which perpetuates
the cycles of poverty and dependency.
The Literacy Coalition of
Broward County is pleased to announce a new grant which will enable us to reach out to
young children and families. The program, called Reach Out and Read, is funded through the
Knight Foundation in partnership with the Reach Out and Read Foundation. It is delivered
through medical settings. Doctors are trained to give parents a literacy moment and a
literacy prescription during well child visits. Each child receives an age appropriate
book to enjoy and take home.
Volunteers read to
children in the waiting rooms, exposing children to the joy of reading and modeling good
reading techniques for parents. Parents receive a literacy referral to an adult program if
they need one.
If you would like to help, we need tutors for adults and volunteer readers in the clinics for
children. See our Volunteer section for information on adult tutoring.
participate in our new Reach Out and Read Program as a reader for
children, contact us via the website or call .