Literacy is fundamental to a free society

A free society wants its citizenry to be literate and contributing. 

An authoritarian government needs just the opposite to survive.

Literacy is the key that opens many doors and in America we cannot rest until every man, woman and child who are able can read and write.

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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. can't 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.

Twenty-five years ago, First Lady Barbara Bush said: “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 spoke those words she founded the “Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.” 

Then 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.

Bush stated 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 to succeed in life.

Her work has helped to improve the lives of many families across the nation and continues 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, unable to gain the necessary literacy skills to match 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 on welfare. They work to close this gap so more families can achieve the American Dream.

In America we need public private partnerships that work in harmony to create programs and to innovate solutions that will dramatically increase the literacy rates and to reach the most in need of help.

One such program has just been announced – it is the $7 million dollar “Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE” presented by Dollar General Literacy Foundation which challenges teams from all over the world to create mobile learning applications that will be able to move low-literate adults to basic literacy in just one year.

The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is working with top Family Foundations and present and former government leaders like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and former governors John Engler, a Republican from Michigan, and Bob Wise a Democrat from West Virginia as well as accomplished authors like Ambassador Sichan Siv and Sandra Brown along with Bush Family Members – Doro Bush Koch and Jeb Bush, Jr to accomplish the goals and objectives of giving people the opportunity to read and write.

Government cannot solve problems alone and no amount of money in and off itself can accomplish goals. It takes a team effort of diverse professionals on the local, state and federal levels inside and outside of government.

A literate society is an informed and engaged society. 

Bradley A. Blakeman was a member of President George W. Bush's senior White House staff from 2001 to 2004. He is a frequent contributor to Fox News and Fox Business Channel.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.