‘This is really an epidemic:’ Georgia Council aiming to improve state’s literacy rates

Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 4:03 PM EDT
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STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - Organizers of this literacy council say Georgia’s graduation rates may have risen, but literacy rates have actually fallen and they hope this group can correct the problem.

School leaders from across the region listened as members of the Georgia Council on Literacy had their first meeting to address a problem they say has reached a critical emergency.

“This is really an epidemic. We’ve got studies that show our children were reading on higher levels in 2012 than they are now,” Council Member Sen. Billy Hickman said.

The council combines law makers with local district leaders from around the state and child development experts.

Some in the group spoke giving all teachers more training in special education to adapt to student needs.

Others talked about how dyslexia and other diagnosis can challenge children’s success in learning reading skills. Dr. Ryan Lee-James of the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy noted most school curriculum discontinues teaching literacy skills by fourth grade for other subjects.

With Georgia recruiting industry to the state, leaders say the need for a well educated workforce becomes higher than ever.

“Our people have to be literate if we want to continue the quality of life that we’re developing in Georgia. Our people have to be able to read in order to enjoy the success we’re having in economic development,” Speaker of the House Rep. Jon Burns said.

The council noted recent bills by the General Assembly that emphasize literacy resources and the timetables for those to by in place.