Illiteracy rates worsening in U.S.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Education Department released statistics stating that more than 32 million, or about 14 percent of Americans, are illiterate.

The Mary and Jean Borg Center for Reading and Literacy at Illinois State University hopes to correct such oversights in education. Linda Wedwick, director of the center, explained the kinds of programs that they offer, and how they make their services accessible.

“Currently we have many outreach programs within the community. We contact all the principals in the area with information about our services. They pass this along to the teachers, who then pass it along to parents,” she said.

“We have undergrad and graduate students that are matched up with students who need help. These tutors meet with students at the Bloomington Cultural Center to help the parents by giving them a more accessible location.”

Besides offering tutoring, the center also has a lending library that contains many tools for parents and teachers to work with children to improve their reading skills. Wedwick explained that these resources are available upon request.

According to a recent report, illiteracy can be a burden upon the economy, and in the last year it may have cost businesses $60 billion in lost productivity and health and safety issues.

Illinois State University sophomore marketing major Craig Nuzzo was alarmed at such a high illiteracy rate among Americans.

“It’s a scary thought that one in seven people may not be able to read street signs or simple directions. It’s something I take for granted every day I suppose,” he said.

However, with programs such as the Literacy Center working within the community to stamp out illiteracy, the problem may become a thing of the past.

“The key is to help parents and teachers,” Wedwick said.

“…Helping parents and teachers helps kids, and that is what’s important.”