U.S. Facing Illiteracy Crisis

Stanley Meisler’s article (“Reading the Signs of a Crisis,” Part A, May 11) was right on target. The problem of illiteracy has reached a crisis point. And nowhere is the problem felt more severely than in the workplace.

The good news is that help is available--both to individuals and to corporations.

As the nation’s oldest and largest statewide literacy organization, the nonprofit California Literacy Inc., supports more than 250 literacy programs where individuals can receive personal tutoring.

California Literacy also develops and leads custom workplace literacy programs tailored to individual companies’ needs.


A congressional bill is pending (HR 3123) that, when combined with a Senate bill already passed will authorize $229 million in 1991 for new and existing literacy programs.

Of course, the availability of literacy programs and the passage of new legislation will not, in and of themselves, solve the problem. Shame and the stigma of illiteracy often prevent people who cannot read from verbally asking for help (most cannot even turn to a phone book). And we need more volunteers to serve as tutors.

We estimate that the number of functionally illiterate adults in California will swell to 4.1 million by the year 2000. Fortunately, this is a threat, not our destiny. By working together--in government, business and as individuals--we can change the future for people who cannot read as well as for our nation.


Executive Director

California Literacy

San Gabriel