Democracy depends on an informed citizenry. This makes literacy essential to a democratic society, but literacy levels vary dramatically in our nation today. This state of affairs can be explained by social, cultural, economic, and political factors at play in American society, but explanation does not equal change. Though research has shown the way to improve schooling for all, the will and resources to correct inequities are limited. Acknowledging the complex nature of literacy is an important step, but the rate of change in American schooling is unacceptable. One must also consider that literacy in today’s society is often seen as a proxy for intelligence. As a result, weak literacy skill carries with it a negative stigma. This leaves many individuals who struggle with reading and writing with low self-esteem, low motivation, embarrassment or shame. Undoubtedly, high levels of literacy engender pride and a sense of empowerment, which enables every person to have a voice.
- Every individual is valuable and deserves respect.
- Every individual is unique and deserves personal, individualized attention.
- Every individual should be honored for what he has learned and taught what she does not yet know.
- Every individual has a right to become literate and deserves excellent, appropriate instruction.