In 2009, House Bill (HB) 4328, authored by Texas State Representative Mark Strama and sponsored by Texas State Senator Carlos Uresti, created the Interagency Literacy Council for “the study, promotion and enhancement of literacy in the state.” The Texas Interagency Literacy Council (Council) was instructed to provide a written report to the Texas Legislature, the Office of the Governor, and the Texas Workforce Investment Council (TWIC) on November 1 of each even-numbered year beginning in 2012, until the Council expires in 2019. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has now published the Council’s 2012 report.
Illiteracy in the state of Texas is a growing problem. TWIC reports in a 2010 study that over four million Texans are eligible for adult education services. This number is projected to double by 2040. On average, 19% of adult Texans cannot read a newspaper.
Aware that the adult education system in Texas is fragmented among state agencies, employers, and nonprofit and volunteer organizations, the council was charged with identifying barriers to literacy in Texas and creating an action plan to address these barriers.
The council identified the following barriers:
- Lack of Information about Community-Based Adult Education Services
- Lack of Career Paths for Adult Education Services
- Texas Employers Face Obstacles to Finding Job-Ready Employees
- Lack of Information on the Use of Current Technology to Enhance Adult Education Services
- Need for Changes to TEA’s Federal and State-Funded Adult Basic Education System
Some recommended action items include:
- Develop an Ongoing Method to Identify Adult Education Providers
- Increase Community College Recognition of Standardized Industry Certifications
- Integrate Adult Education and Employment Training
- Placing Adult Learners on Career Paths for More Rapid and Consistent Advancement
The council overwhelmingly agreed that collaboration between agencies, volunteer organizations, and employers is essential to make any real impact on this critical issue facing the state of Texas. We are hopeful that the legislature will take action based on these recommendations.
Texas Map of Percentage of Illiteracy by County courtesy Texas Center for the Advancement of Literacy & Learning