[Assessment 1270] World News with Charles Gibson: A Special Series on Literacy

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Maralit, Mary Jo MMaralit at NIFL.gov
Fri Feb 22 20:33:39 EST 2008

February 22, 2008

News and Notes from the National Institute for Literacy

>From the Desk of Dr. Sandra L. Baxter, Director



Beginning Monday, February 25, ABC's "World News with Charles Gibson" will
feature a special series, "Living in the Shadows: Illiteracy in America"
that examines the hidden phenomenon of illiteracy in this country. An
estimated 30 million people in the U.S. cannot read a simple sentence, and
as Senior Justice Department Correspondent Pierre Thomas reports,
undiagnosed learning disorders, poverty, and unstable homes are among the
factors contributing to this nation-wide crisis. The problem persists, in
large part, because many actively try to conceal it or avoid seeking help.

45 year-old Monica Baxley of Chipley, Florida was one of those people,
hiding the fact that she was functionally illiterate from family, friends,
even her husband for thirty years. She was unable to read newspapers, road
signs, or fill out job applications - a painful existence with constant
reminders of her limitation. She finally decided to seek help after becoming
frustrated that she couldn't help her daughter with homework. After several
years of intensive instruction with a local literacy group, she went on to
earn her GED. She now spends her time tutoring and inspiring others who are

In part two of the series, Thomas travels to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where
one out of every five residents there has difficulty reading or cannot read
at all. The city has pledged to cut the illiteracy rate in half in the next
ten years - launching a city-wide campaign to increase awareness of the
issue and enlisting hundreds of tutors and volunteers. Are their initiatives
making a difference? For those who have overcome illiteracy, the ability to
read has opened new doors and expanded their opportunities.

"Living in the Shadows: Illiteracy in America" will air on "World News with
Charles Gibson" beginning Monday, February 25. Thomas' reporting will also
be featured on the "World News" webcast, available on ABCNEWS.com, ABC News
Now, Apple's iTunes, and mobile phones.

Jon Banner is the executive producer of "World News with Charles Gibson."
ABC News Media Relations:
Natalie Raabe (212) 456-2418