Programs help adults to
By Sonia Chavez
Four million Texans, nearly a quarter of
the state's adult population, are unable to read basic signs or fill out
a job application.
So states a report of the Intercultural
Development Research Association, an independent non-profit organization
that conducts research on and evaluation of
Of the state's largest cities, El Paso
has the highest rate of adult illiteracy at 19.43 percent. San Antonio
is second with a 15.05 percent rate and Houston ranks third
at 13.56 percent.
The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts,
in its Texas Performance Review, cites the findings of a 1994 survey of
adult literacy in Texas that "adult Texans who are
unemployed, poor or near poor, or on public
assistance, have significantly lower literacy and educational attainment
levels than their fellow Texans who are
employed and self-sufficient."
The study found that the median household
income rises $10,000 per year for each of four literacy levels achieved.
Adults in Houston who for some reason were
not able to attain a basic education in the public school system have a
number of avenues to turn to for help.
One such organization is Literacy Advance
of Houston. The group was founded in 1964 by concerned Houstonians inspired
by the work of Frank Laubach, a
pioneer of the contemporary adult literacy
The organization operates several learning
centers around the city, located in schools, churches and libraries, that
provide free classes for people at least 16 years
old. Almost 400 students enrolled in its
basic literacy courses in 2000.
"We have a good success rate," said Marcia
Club, LAH office manager. "Everyone comes with different goals."
Whether the goal is being able to read
to a child, board a bus or fill out an application isn't important as long
as the person succeeds, Club said.
Another organization addressing the problem
of adult illiteracy is Literacy AmeriCorps, a national service that provides
services in four locations in the United States,
"We have about 100 different sites where
we assign AmeriCorps members," said Jac Burke, a liaison for the organization,
which provides services to more than one
million adult Houstonians who lack the
basic skills to get and keep jobs, help their children succeed in school
and participate fully in society.
"We are fortunate because not only do we
have the honor to touch the lives of other people, but we are touched by
them also," Burke said.
Literacy AmeriCorps, which is based on
the model of the Peace Corps and is operated here by the Houston READ Commission,
makes use of college student
"volunteers" who receive monetary compensation.
"A teacher/tutor will receive $757 a month
in exchange for one full year of teaching," Burke said.
Furthermore, after completing 1,700 hours
of service, the teacher/tutor receives a $4,715 scholarship.
The organization provides training for
its volunteers. For information, call (713) 845-2340.