Editorial: Community response to literacy

Mar. 22, 2014 @ 11:22 PM

In a perfect world, there would not be enough room for all those attending at Monday’s literacy event in the First Presbyterian Church.

John Corcoran, who at age 48 learned to read, will speak and our community has been invited to listen, become involved and help in the literacy solution.

Critical to solving any problem is full understanding in both how it evolves and what happens as a result.

Our educators, the schools both private and public, are major players in helping children learn to read, but they should not be alone. Too often in the past, they have been.

As part of the 2011 budget bill, the Read to Achieve law was implemented in the Excellent Public Schools Act. Students must have reading proficiency before being promoted to fourth grade.

Politicians and educators may argue over the means to the end. But the end, children reading, must be achieved.

Corcoran’s story should shake us up in two directions. He learned to read four decades late. He’s now leading a foundation making sure children don’t tumble into the statistics like he did.

His message resonates for children and adults.

On his website, Corcoran says reading is challenging to 60 percent of students, and a real challenge to 30 percent. He was frustrated by the fifth grade and acted out in frustration.

That still happens with youth today.

In formal education’s first three years, we learn to read. In the rest of our educational process, we read to learn. That’s not a myth or catchphrase, and that’s not a difficult equation for us to understand.

Literacy goes far beyond explanations on graduation rates or teacher performances. It has great impact on the health of our communities economically and socially.

Children may not know the questions to ask. They may become trapped. They may need only the smallest of tips from a tutor to unlock the code, to get over the hump and begin comprehension.

Corcoran says learning to read not only changed his life, it saved it. Who among us doesn’t want to save a child’s life? Or an adult?

His story, and those of others overcoming reading hurdles, have impact. But the rest of the story is us, and our actions.

We need to respond.