literacy

"Treme" actor and musician Wendell Pierce is scheduled to read to more than 500 New Orleans elementary school students in an effort to break the world record for largest reading lesson.

The current Guinness world record in the category is 440 participants.

The event marks the start of a years-long campaign to boost literacy rates in New Orleans by 2018, the city's 300th birthday. According to a 2012 study conducted by Central Connecticut State University, New Orleans ranked the 25th most literate city among the nation's 75 cities with populations of 250,000 or higher.

The national family literacy program Prime Time is underway in schools across Louisiana. The program works to refine family reading habits and attitudes about books. The weekly 90-minute session held in the evening brings together elementary school children and their parents to listen to and discuss classic literature. Miranda Restovic, deputy director of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, said Prime Time brings parents into the fold of learning, and makes the school a more welcoming place for them.

New Orleans has a literacy problem. More than a quarter of the working-age population in the New Orleans metro are low-skilled and likely low-literate.  There is a mismatch between the educational levels of our workforce and the 14 years of education required for available positions.

As important as our current school reforms are to the future of the city, the impact of its graduates won’t be felt for decades. Two-thirds of New Orleans’ 2025 labor pool is working-age adults, meaning — if we want to become a more literate and productive city — we must make significant investments in adult education.

A new study shows New Orleans and surrounding parishes are suffering economically from a poorly trained adult work force. The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center is calling for an “all hands on deck” approach to turn those numbers around.