This morning, my sister-in-law tagged me in a Facebook challenge to promote literacy and post a book list. I actually shared some titles I’m reading this summer in a recent blog post. As for the part about promoting literacy… being a librarian’s daughter and having worked with youth primarily in the out-of-school-time space, I have a few thoughts.
The National Research Council asserts that “academic success, as defined by high school graduation, can be predicted with reasonable accuracy by knowing someone’s reading skill at the end of third grade. A person who is not at least a modestly skilled reader by that time is unlikely to graduate from high school.”
By 6th grade, children from low-income communities will have received approximately 6,000 less hours of learning than those from more affluent neighborhoods. This number encompasses out-of-school time learning like summer and after-school programs, field trips, tutoring, etc.
Trump’s fiscal year 2020 full budget proposal, for the third year in a row, proposes eliminating the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, which funds local after-school and summer learning programs in all 50 states and the U.S. territories. He also proposed the elimination of federal funding for the arts and humanities, public television and radio, libraries and museums.
Why would he attack these crucial institutions and programs when they are so important to literacy? Because literacy is key to escaping and ending the cycle of poverty. Literacy is central to helping people obtain/retain employment, which leads to greater self-sufficiency and financial stability.
All things the current administration doesn’t want for people of color, because it helps keep them disempowered and disenfranchised.
Therefore, it is irresponsible and ineffective to address literacy without acknowledging this country’s growing racial wealth gap and how it started/was perpetuated through racist practices like slavery, segregation, mass incarceration, discriminatory lending practices, redlining, among others.
If we are truly committed to promoting literacy, we must take actions to eliminate poverty and redress the social/racial inequities that cause it.
Recommended Further Reading
Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance by Edgar Villanueva
Hope and Healing in Urban Education by Shawn Ginwright, PhD