• Bolstering literacy among African-American and Latino men is an urgent national priority

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    Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that bolstering literacy among African-American and Latino men is an urgent national priority

     

    Whereas literacy is a vital skill for survival in 21st Century America;

    Whereas literacy is an essential tool for exercising active citizenship and holding government officials accountable;

    Whereas universal literacy is a necessity for American competitiveness in the global economy;

    Whereas illiteracy is highly correlated with imprisonment, given that 56 percent of US adults in prison or jail in 2008 were deemed to have” very low literacy skills” according to the National Commission on Adult Literacy;

    Whereas illiteracy can be considered a major factor giving rise to the so-called “school-to-prison-pipeline”;

    Whereas, according to the most recent national assessment of Adult literacy, 34 million adults function below basic literacy levels.

    Whereas, according to the Department of Education, 20 percent of African Americans and 39 percent of Latinos function at below basic literacy;

     

    Whereas only 47% of African-American males and 44% of Latino males graduate from high school;

    Whereas 45 percent of adult literacy students at CBOs are prime working age people between the ages of 25 and 44;

    Whereas, according to a July 2006 report in Stanford Magazine, an increase in the percentage of poverty-stricken students in a school correlated with the decline in performance on literacy tests;

    Whereas illiteracy is an intergenerational problem, as the children of illiterate parents are less likely to receive the support they need to attain reading proficiency

    Whereas federal, state, municipal, and community-based literacy programs have been able to reach a small proportion of the total illiterate population;

    Whereas 74 percent of community-based organizations focused on adult literacy have waiting lists;

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

     

    Recognizes illiteracy as a national crisis, which disproportionately affects African-American and Hispanic males;

    Affirms the goal of reducing adult illiteracy by 50% in these target populations and by 25% throughout the United States in the coming decade;

    Encourages local, state, and federal agencies as well as the private sector to take on literacy promotion initiatives in an effort to resolve this crisis;

    Encourages federal agencies and private firms to support community-based organization programs and use of trained volunteers to work with the target populations;

    Encourages the establishment of local partnerships among service providers to better meet the needs of adult learners.

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