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Governor Declares Literacy Month

September 2, 2004

DES MOINES, IA (August 30, 2004) – Governor Tom Vilsack has declared September as Literacy Month in Iowa, and is encouraging all Iowans to continue their support for strong literacy skills.

"Iowa communities have shown a strong commitment to their responsibility for providing basic literacy skills among children and adults," Governor Vilsack said. "We are grateful for the businesses, community colleges, and other community groups that have supported our literacy programs, and encourage all Iowans to pursue and enjoy literacy as a basic need for quality of life, educational opportunity, and economic security."

"Good reading skills are essential for all Iowans," said First Lady Christie Vilsack, who leads Iowa’s literacy initiatives. "In addition to helping children learn to read, we also must address the needs of the many adults who need additional literacy skills, and whose inability to read makes every day a struggle. Improving literacy for all Iowans is one of the most effective ways to strengthen our communities."

While Iowa adults, on average, outperform the nation in measures of literacy, consider these facts:

  • 22-25% of Iowa adults are at the second lowest literacy levels measured by the Iowa State Adult Literacy Survey as compared to 50% of the adult population nationally; and
  • More than 40% of the U.S. workforce lacks the basic literacy skills to effectively function in the workplace.

According to Sally Schroeder, Adult Education Consultant for the Iowa Department of Education, the result is the loss of $60 billion in workplace productivity each year and a rising shortage of skilled workers.

During Literacy Month in Iowa, community and business leaders, educators, and all citizens of our state are encouraged to support local literacy programs. Businesses are specifically encouraged to:

  • Provide and support opportunities for employees to improve their education and basic literacy skills;
  • Donate equipment, in-kind services, and money to community literacy programs;
  • Help adults who are parents obtain the educational skills necessary to become full partners in the educational development of their children.

For more information, please visit the Iowa Literacy Resource Center website at http://www.readiowa.org; or contact Sally Schroeder, Iowa Department of Education, 515/281-3640.

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