Here's a bad news, good news story with the potential for a lot of happy endings. Let's get the bad news out of the way first.
Did you know that 20% of adult Arkansans read at below the 5th grade level? If you add in the large number of new NW Arkansas residents for whom English is a second language, the number of folks who have difficulty filling out a job application, opening a bank account, and helping their children with school work is certainly even greater.
Poor reading skills are also strongly correlated to incidences of crime, welfare dependency, poverty, and even poor physical and mental health. The bottom line is that poor reading skills and illiteracy costs not only the non-reader and his or her family money and opportunity, but it costs society as a whole as well.
The good news is that the Carroll County Literacy Center (CCLC) has opened new offices and has expanded its range of services to help individuals not only learn how to read, but also how to write, how to speak, how to do math, how to do basic work on a computer, and how to learn English.
The extra good news is that CCLC is available to work directly with employers who want to recruit, train, and or train and retain workers but run into trouble because of applicant and employee deficiencies in reading and other basic skills. For example, they may want to promote from within the business but can't find internal candidates who have the necessary reading comprehension and computational skills.
Dr. Sharon Sloan, the President of the CCLC's Board of Directors and Volunteer Coordinator says that the main goals of the Literacy Council are to help prepare adults for the workforce and to gain the basic skills necessary to participate knowledgably in their children's education.
"The ability to read and apply basic skills," says Sloan, "are essential pre-requisites to a good job and genuine participation in the lives of children. Our job at the Literacy Council is to make those two good things happen."
Services are available at no cost to either employers or individuals. "The CCLC is a completely volunteer, non-denominational, non-political, non-profit organization," Sloan said. "We have virtually no administrative costs and, while almost all of our staffs have college degrees and even advanced degrees, they are dedicated volunteers who also pay for a lot of our needs, like supplies, out of pocket. That allows us to provide free services to our clients."
Adults needing individual instruction, or employers who are interested in discussing how to set up a basic skills and or literacy training at their worksite, can contact Dr. Sloan by phone at 870-505-1556, or email at: