Illiteracy is a "root" problem


Low literacy skills are a problem across the country and in Howard County.

• Children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out.

• Of adults with the lowest literacy levels, 43 percent live in poverty, and 70% of adult welfare recipients have low literacy levels. There is a clear correlation between more education and higher earnings, and between higher educational scores and higher earnings.

• An excess of $230 billion a year in health care costs is linked to low adult literacy. Nearly half of American adults have difficulty understanding and using health information. Lack of understanding impedes adults’ abilities to make appropriate health decisions and increases the likelihood that they’ll incur higher health costs.

• Every year, one in six young adults—more than 1.2 million—drop out of high school. Recent data show that nearly 30 percent of adults with household incomes at or below the federal poverty line do not have a high school credential. The key to financial success is a viable career path and adequate education to seek meaningful, family-supporting wages. The value to our economy in additional wages and the reduction in costs for various support programs is estimated at more than $200 billion a year.

• Seventy-five percent of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate. Ninety-five percent of those incarcerated are reintegrated into our communities. Research shows that inmates who are educated are 43 percent less likely to return to prison.
So low literacy is a “root cause” to so many other problems. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it is the largest SOLVABLE problem! The Literacy Coalition has been working to correct this problem since 1998. We’ve helped hundreds of our neighbors improve their skills, get better jobs, finish high school, go to college, get their driver’s license, or accomplish any other number of educational goals.
Together we have made a big impact in our community the last 30 years. We are looking forward to doing even more in the future.

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