Friday, March 30, 2007

Illiteracy...Getting Worse

Education's Dirty little Secret
An Open Letter about Adult Literacy from the President of ProLiteracy Worldwide

Shocking. Frightening. Stunning. Shameful. Disastrous.

Talk show hosts and their callers and the national news media used these
words this week to describe the findings of a report on adult literacy.
Commissioned by the mayor of Washington, D.C., the report found that one
out of every three people living in the capital of one of the richest nations
of the world can barely read or write.

Even more surprising, the reporters announced, is the fact that one in
five adults in the U.S. is functionally illiterate - that's 30 million people
over the age of 16 who are unable to fill out a job application, follow a
bus schedule, or apply for a driver's license. What the media did not
mention is the fact that another 63 million adults read and write only
slightly better than the 30 million.

Yes, we should be shocked. Yes, we should be frightened. Low literate
adults are more likely than good readers to be unemployed or need public
assistance. They are uninformed consumers. They struggle to negotiate our
health care system. They cannot support their children's educational

But we should not be surprised.

We address our adult literacy issue primarily by making improvements in
the K-12 public school system. This is education's "dirty little secret" - it
is willing to sacrifice some 30+ million of today's adults in the hope that we
will grow our way out of the problem of adults with low literacy skills as
today's children mature.

This approach neglects several major factors. First, a substantial number
of adults with low literacy skills are adult immigrants who will never attend
our public schools. And the number of immigrants to the U.S. increases
every year. Second, the research is clear - children whose parents or caregivers
are literate grow up to become literate adults. Also, the growing numbers
of"dropout-pushout" students shows that, no matter how early children start
school and no matter how many interventions are applied, there still will
be a number of children at risk of becoming low literate adults. Are we
willing to sacrifice these young people as well?

Both parents and children are important parts of the learning equation.
But public and private funding for adult basic and literacy education covers
instruction for just 3 million adults a year. These programs, sponsored by
local education agencies (schools), and community-based organizations, are
not seen as an integral part of the nation's education strategy,
therefore, funding them is not essential.

Why is this so? Is it because many of the potential adult learners are
immigrants not all of whom are legal? Is it because many of the potential
learners are ex-offenders, substance abusers or have other major issues in
their lives? Is it because we often blame them for their situation, seeing
them as people who "failed to learn" as children? Or is it because they
represent this country's most marginalized population - those who earn
little, pay little taxes, do not vote and do not participate in the civic
and social affairs of their communities. They are unseen and unheard,
which is how they remain a secret.
We should be ashamed.


Ava turns 3 on Sunday...I am so excited for her party. We have a Little Mermaid theme going on. How cool is that? Spent like a million dollars on decorations and a pinata and goodie bags--even though I went to the Dollar Store (I went to wrong Dollar Store--the one that deludes you into thinking everything is a dollar but it's not!). I sent her to Daycare a.k.a. "school" with pink cupcakes with sprinkles this morning. Life is good when you are 3. What the heck--my life is pretty damn good now too!

Lyrical Gangster?

Did you see Karl Rove rapping and dancing? Wow. Kind of gives me the courage to give it a try. Watch out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Wednesday, April 4th 6:00PM – 10:00PM
Cold Stone Creamery
4110 Maple Road, Amherst
(next to Sweet Home Middle School)

Join us for an evening of fun and delicious ice cream as Cold Stone Creamery holds an Ice Cream Social to benefit Literacy Volunteers of Buffalo & Erie County.

A portion of the total sales will be donated directly to Literacy Volunteers. Help us continue to change lives, word by word!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Free Market Economy

Channel 2 is reporting a large scale prostitution bust. I am pro-prostitution/freedom of bodily and economic choice! I even co-chaired a committee and wrote a neighborhood report on it back in the 90s. It is a waste of time to enforce prostitution laws...don't even get me started on drug laws. I will leave that for another post!

Gimme little drink...

I love my ipod! My husband gave it to me for Christmas, loaded with all my CDs and a slideshow of my daughter Ava. The best gift ever. I cried. I just got back from an exhilirating walk with my daughter Olivia. I listened to my ipod--I cannot even believe that a NYS legislator wants to ban people using them while they are walking. I am murky on this as I think it was unfolding as I was adjusting to life post c-section and with a new baby BUT I think it is the same idiot that came up with the cell phone ban while driving and we all know how I feel about that one! Back to my walk...I listened to what is one of the best albums ever made....The Rolling Stones' "Exile On Main Street." Man, I love that album. I love anything from the Stones made in the 1970s. I am so pumped after listening to that I feel like....doing....laundry :( back to reality in my life as a mom! My partying days are over. I do have this lingering urge to watch "Goodfellas"--Scorcese really knows how to use the Stones to create mood in his films.

I am a cheeseball

American Idol is on tonight! I love Blake and Chris Sligh. Chris Richardson is cool too. I have morphed into a 17 year old girl. At least my brain has. My body is very much that of a 37 year old woman with 2 kids. Seaking of which--I started the LA Weight Loss program. Hmmm...8 lbs in 2 weeks. Good progress but it is very strict. I feel like I need to write something intellectual now so let me think. I used to actually be kind of smart and now I am really grasping at straws. Hey--how about that Barack Obama???

Huge Problem--We're Working On It!

Report: Patient illiteracy threatens health care
By Marie Skelton, USA TODAY

Miscommunications between patients and health care providers are increasing the chances that people who need medical care will be hurt or killed in the process, according to a report from a health care accreditation group.
While cultural and language barriers pose problems for patient-doctor communication, poor general literacy skills can be just as great an impediment, according to The Joint Commission, which accredits nearly 15,000 U.S. health care organizations and programs.
"The implications around all of this are huge if the patient doesn't understand what they have and what they're taking and why. You might be putting the patient in harm's way, and they could be killed," says Dennis O'Leary, president of the commission.
The commission held a news conference in February to present recommendations for health care providers, policymakers and consumers.
The recommendations include specific advice for educating and training health care professionals; using well-trained medical interpreters for patients with English comprehension difficulties; and encouraging a culture of easy-to-understand communication in all facets of medical care.
The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy by the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that 29% of the American population has only basic prose literacy skills, and 14% has below-basic skills. The below-basic figure includes 3% taking an alternative assessment because of language difficulties; another 2% weren't tested because they couldn't communicate in English or Spanish.
Prose literacy, as defined in the study, measures the skills needed to understand texts such as news stories, brochures and instruction manuals.
People with basic skills can perform simple, everyday literacy activities, while people with below-basic skills show proficiency in only the most simple and concrete literacy.
"When literacy collides with health care, the issue of health literacy — defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions — begins to cast a long patient safety shadow," the Joint Commission report says.
The report, noting that medical information is often filled with jargon, said that "even those who are most proficient at using text and numbers may be compromised in the understanding of health care information when they are challenged by sickness and feelings of vulnerability."
"When I was in medical school, no one even mentioned that someone might not understand what I was saying," O'Leary says. "Yet, more serious adverse events are caused by communication problems than any other thing."
Toni Cordell, a nationally known health literacy advocate who has been working with the commission, knows this only too well. Struggling with the effects of dyslexia and a poor education, Cordell went to see her gynecologist three decades ago and listened as he told her she would need surgery.
"He said that it was an easy repair. Unfortunately, I asked almost no questions except 'What day and time do we do this?' " she says.
It wasn't until she was in recovery and a nurse asked her how she was feeling after her hysterectomy that Cordell realized what had happened.
"Humiliation and shame washed over me. I have always felt, even to this day, disappointed in myself that I allowed it to happen in total ignorance.
Ignorance is not bliss; it's not a good place to be," she says.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I am inspired to write...although it seems like I have had little to say over the past few months as I have adjusted to life with two beautiful daughters...well, I have a lot to say about Dora the Explorer, Diego, gripe water and a variety of baby issues. Now that the weather is turning, and I received an added bonus by way of motivational speeches from the Jens, I am going to write! And I have a secret to tell...I think it is because I have been out of work since January 22 and my mind has been completely taken over by an alien BUT I am totally addicted to the Anna Nicole Smith brouhaha. I am actually so pleased that of all times for her to pass away, it was during the time that I could watch COURT TV 24-7. As if this isn't shameful enough I have an even better revelation--I have a thing for Howard K. Stern. Thank God no one even knows my blog exists or else I might start to get hate mail like I did when I was the cell phone lady!