New York State Ranks Below National Average in Adult Literacy Rates
January 26, 2009
Literacy Nassau tackles crisis at local level
(Hempstead, N.Y.) According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy: Indirect County and State Estimates of the Percentage of Adults at the Lowest Literacy Level for 1992 and 2003, 22% percent of New York State adult residents lack basic skills required to perform simple daily information processing tasks. The study, just released by The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), provides data on the percentage of adults – for all states and counties in the U.S. – who lack basic prose literacy skills.
Kevin G. Smith, executive director of Literacy New York, expressed concern that the New York State figure is significantly higher than the 14% national average. “I am worried about the state’s capacity to support vital economic recovery plans when so many lack basic skills. It will be very difficult for the state to proceed with workforce and economic development strategies that rely on more highly skilled employees and citizenry,” Smith said.
Literacy Nassau is one of Literacy New York’s 41 local, community-based Literacy Volunteer affiliates across New York State. According to Tina Sanacore, Executive Director of Literacy Nassau, “We are seeing an increased demand for our tutoring services to adults with limited literacy and language ability. In fact, right now, we have a waiting list of 200 Nassau County residents wishing to be matched with a volunteer tutor.” Statewide, more than 5,000 volunteer tutors provide 400,000 hours of service to 6,500 adult students annually.
“In Nassau County,” according to Ms. Sanacore, “our 250 volunteer tutors currently provide reading, writing and conversational English instruction to over 350 adult learners. We have tutor training workshops – our schedule is listed below – coming up this winter and spring to help us reduce the backlog of motivated adults who sit on our waiting list.”
At the same time that New York State’s adult literacy level is significantly worse than the national average, community-based providers may see a reduction in State funding. The 2009 Executive Proposed budget recommends only $4.9 million for Adult Literacy Education (ALE), or $2 million less than what was allocated in 2008. Adult literacy funding supports local providers across the state, including New York City.
“Such a significant reduction in adult literacy funding will result in major reductions to services,” according to Smith. “We must invest more in our human infrastructure if we have any hope of getting through this difficult economic period. Every $1 spent on adult literacy and education programs provides significant returns through higher employment, additional tax revenues, and reduced welfare payments.”
LITERACY NASSAU 2009 WINTER/SPRING TUTOR TRAINING WORKSHOP SCHEDULE
Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock
48 Shelter Rock Road, Manhasset
Sessions: 3/7, 3/14, 3/21, 3/28 and 4/4/09
All sessions 10:00 am – 1:30 pm
*Follow-up session – Saturday, May 16, 2009 / 10:00 am – 12:00 pm at the Literacy Nassau Office
Hicksville Public Library Computer Resource Center
101 Jerusalem Avenue, Hicksville
*Follow-up session – Tuesday, June 16, 2009 / 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at the Literacy Nassau Office
Photo: Members of Literacy Nassau Board of Directors and Staff photographed at October 24, 2008 “Health Literacy” Legislative Breakfast held at Molloy College in Farmingdle. Front row, left to right: Maria Toulas, Adrienne Cooper, Marian Conway (Board Chair). Back row, left to right: Tina Sanacore (Executive Director), Leslie Carter, Barbara Behrens, Brenda Alui, & Arthur Feldman.