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LNY Mourns Loss of Literacy Champion

Tue, Apr 24th 2018 04:00 pm

LNY joins the rest of the country in mourning the loss of such a stalwart. Many literacy organizations have been touched by Barbara Bush, including Literacy CNY in Syracuse.


Michael Benny at CNYCentral.com wrote this:


This death is felt in a very significant way by the staff at Literacy CNY.


“Adult literacy does not always get that much attention. It is not the most popular cause because some people don’t see it as society’s problem,” said Literacy CNY Executive Director Marsha Tait.


Tait met the former first lady several times and recalls one of the first meetings.


“It was a little bit terrifying. She was awesome!” Tait said. “She was awe inspiring with a very strong personality — but there is no question that her commitment to literacy broadly, and adult literacy specifically, was very real. She was amazing."


Barbara Bush was a close personal friend of Ruth Colvin, who founded a Syracuse agency dedicated to literacy. It started as Literacy Volunteers in 1961 and grew into a statewide organization, and later, a national effort.


“When Mrs. Bush’s husband was in office, she was a very strong proponent of adult literacy," Tait said. "In fact, I don’t think the public had seen someone in such a position champion adult literacy in that way. She used her national platform to shine a light on this important topic and that is awe inspiring. Very few people have chosen to do that."


Tait said there has not been the same level of federal support for adult literacy since the George H.W. Bush presidency, even though the problem persists.


Tait estimates in Onondaga County alone, there are 60,000 people who have limited literacy skills. Some of that is due to refugee resettlement, but the rest Tait says can be attributed to multi-generational poverty. “Research shows that investing in this cause does pay dividends for a community,” Tait said.


In 1991, Barbara Bush helped pass the National Literacy Act, which focused on teaching millions of American adults to read. Click here https://www.barbarabush.org/ to learn more about Bush’s literacy foundation.


Michael Benny at CNYCentral.com

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