Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Parent to Parent: Illiterate Parents
Most parents struggle to help their kids with homework, but, for some parents, it's nearly impossible because they can't read. There are more out there than you might think, but, in tonight's Parent to Parent, we'll show you how some are meeting the reading challenge one word at a time.
WSVN -- Forty-two-year-old James Santiago is just now learning how to read.
After James finished third grade he moved to Puerto Rico. When he came back he found he'd forgotten the skills he'd learned in English.
James Santiago: "After a while, I noticed that the teachers were giving up on me. I always felt like I got pushed back and got pushed back more and more, and eventually, I just gave up myself."
James dropped out of school in fourth grade. Now he's back in school ... so to speak. He meets with a tutor at the Dan Pearl Branch Library in Sunrise three times a week.
James Santiago: "I've always tried to shy away from telling people that I couldn't read or write, you know. It's embarrassing, really."
Dr. Valerie says illiterate adults like James get jobs and raise families and find ways to cope with their disability.
Dr. Valerie Goode: "Say, for example, filling out an application. Something that should be fairly simple is not. They can always ask somebody to help, they can ask an older child to help that reads well."
It's a struggle James knows all too well.
James Santiago: "I have a son, and he's been going to school, and I have a lot of stress because I can't help him at all. The schools are pushing me to help, and I had to tell them that I can't read or write myself."
James has a lot of company. About one fourth of the adult population in Broward County reads below the fifth grade level.
It's worse in Miami-Dade where just under half of the adult population reads at that level, and Dr. Val says, unfortunately, most won't seek help.
Dr. Valerie Goode: "What happens with the person who can't read and who has suppressed it for so long, they will have so much shame wrapped up in, that they're not always willing to ask for help, even though they desperately need it and even want it."
James says it was hard, but he's glad he decided to get help.
James Santiago: "It makes me feel good, you know. It's starting to come along a lot better, and I see, you know, to tell you the truth, I see light on the other side of my dark tunnel that I'm in."
He's been hard at work for a year now, and tutor Betty Veach gives James an A+.
Betty Veach: "I tell him to just stay with me, and I'll go as far as he will go."
James plans to finish the literacy program and hopes to eventually get his G.E.D.
Here in South Florida, there are many free programs available to adults who want to improve their reading skills.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Valerie Goode
Miami-Dade Project L.E.A.D.
Broward County Library Learning Services