A free society wants their citizenry to be literate and contributing. While an authoritarian government needs just the opposite to survive. Literacy is the key opening many doors. In America we cannot rest until every man, woman, and child who are able to do so can both read and write.
According to a study conducted in late April of 2014 by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the U.S. cannot read. That's 14 percent of the population. Twenty-one percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can't read. This is unacceptable.
First Lady Barbara Bush said 25 years ago, "The American dream is about equal opportunity for everyone who works hard. If we don’t give everyone the ability to simply read and write, then we aren’t giving everyone an equal chance to succeed."
Barbara Bush’s words were followed by action. Shortly after she uttered those words she founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
While first lady, she started the nonprofit with a goal to empower families through literacy. Driven by her passion for reading, she set out to raise awareness about the importance of family literacy. In other words, giving children and their parents the opportunity to learn —and achieve together.
Mrs. Bush said that if more people could read or write, "we could be much closer to solving so many other problems that our country faces." She recognized that providing access to literacy programs was essential to helping parents and children have an equal chance at success. Her work has helped to improve the lives of many families across the nation, while contonuing to inspire the next generation of learners.
At the Barbara Bush Foundation, they believe all children deserve an equal opportunity to achieve. Many of the nation’s youngest children who come from disadvantaged families suffer even greater challenges, as they are unable to gain the necessary literacy skills to match those of their peers. Skills essential to building their future success.
Millions of parents face a gap in education, lacking basic reading and writing skills to help their children in school. The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy advocates for the most basic of educational skills for both child and parent — the ability to read and write.
Low literacy levels are linked to poor health, fewer economic opportunities, and a lifetime dependent on welfare. They work to close this gap so more families can achieve the American dream.
In the U.S. we need public private partnerships working in harmony to create programs and to innovate solutions that will dramatically increase the literacy rates, reaching those in most in need of help.
One such program has just been announced, the $7 million dollar Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by Dollar General Literacy Foundation, an organization which challenges teams globally to create mobile learning applications that will be able to move adults with low literacy levels to basic literacy in just one year.
The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is working with top family foundations as well as present and former government leaders like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and former Gov. John Engler a Republican from Michigan, as well as former Gov. BobWise, a Democrat from West Virginia.
The foundation is also working with accomplished authors, like Ambassador Sichan Siv and Sandra Brown along with Bush family members — Dorothy Bush Koch and Jeb Bush, Jr., to accomplish the goals and objectives of giving people the opportunity to read and write.
Government alone cannot solve the problems of illeteracy. No amount of money can accomplish the goals of doing so. It requires a team effort of diverse professionals at the local, state, and federal levels — inside and outside of government.
A literate society is an informed and engaged society.
May 4 was National Celebration of Reading. Read all about it at barbarabush.org.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-2004. He is currently a professor of politics and public policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.
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