Those who know me, know that I do not like to write unless I have to. That being said, when the Florida Literacy Coalition, asked me to write this blog, I was hesitant to say yes. Even today, it’s very hard work and time consuming for me. They asked me to write what it means to me to be the first adult learner to be voted as President of the National Coalition for Literacy and what I hope to accomplish. As this was the first time I was asked these questions, I felt I needed to respond.
As President of the National Coalition for Literacy, the most significant thing that I can accomplish is that I can help open doors for my fellow adult learners. As a child with a learning difference, I was seen as less than others and found that it did not change when I became an adult. I began my adult learning when I went into a literacy program back in 1984, as a student. What I learned through this experience was that many doors are closed to adults that cannot read and write. I have been working ever since to get adult learners to be seen as equals within the rest of society. Currently, I am the executive director of VALUEUSA, a resource organization for adult learners nationwide.
Today, in our society, we cannot discriminate against someone because of race, gender or sexual orientation, but we can deny people a better life because of their lack of reading and writing skills. So many people feel like the rest of the world does not see them or care about them because they cannot read and write like every one else. Even people working in the field of adult education do not always see the whole person they are working with. They see what we cannot do, but fail to see what we can do and what we have done.
Adult learners come from all classes in our society. In the past, we would have been just fine. We would have found jobs that would allow us to raise our families and be a vital part of our local community. However, today, this is not true. Now, with the speed of technology, the need to be literate in everything that we do is making so many more of us feel left out. Jobs and opportunities for us to make a better life are going away. We, as adult learners, want to learn. We want to be part of this great nation. We want to be seen as people that can and do make a difference.
For individuals who do not know what the National Coalition for Literacy is; it is an organization that helps bring together individuals and national groups that are concerned and working to help adults get the basic education they need. As the new president, I hope I can motivate more people to appreciate adult learners and recognize that adult learners are a vital part of the solution.
In working together, adult learners, provider groups, funders and government can make life better for so many more people. If you can help in any way, please do.
Executive Director, VALUEUSA
President, NATIONAL COALITION for LITERACY