Almanac

News - July 14, 2010

Not much time to sign literacy 'declaration' at library

by Renee Batti

Menlo Park Library patrons have until Wednesday, July 14, to put their John Hancock on a document passing through town on its way to Washington, D.C., after traveling thousands of miles across the country: the Declaration of the Right to Literacy.

The declaration, in the form of a scroll, was scheduled to arrive at the library on July 9, although it was delayed in transit from Sacramento. But a copy of the declaration was put on display that day, and parchment paper was available to sign by all who support the declaration's assertion that all U.S. residents, "regardless of age or status, (should) be able to read and write in order to participate fully and equitably in our democracy," and that the country's educational system needs to be transformed to achieve that end.

The scroll has already been signed by thousands of people, according to organizers of the project, who aim to present the scroll to President Obama in September.

Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline said he intends to add his signature to the scroll, joining mayors and other elected officials from around the country. Others signing the scroll include business and church leaders, service providers, adult literacy students, volunteers, educational organizations, and community residents from all over the country, according to a press release.

The Declaration of the Right to Literacy was conceived at a 2009 convention of the Literacy Powerline, a national group working to increase literacy. The project has been endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, according to the press release.

The declaration states, in part, that "the global competitiveness and economic security of our nation and well-being of our citizens are seriously held back by widespread low literacy in the United States." Therefore, it continues, "literacy must be a national priority and an integral part of our country's public policies, supported by an educational system that equips all learners to make informed decisions, manage their lives effectively, and achieve their fullest potential and contribution."

Locally, the scroll project is sponsored by Project Read-Menlo Park and the Menlo Park Library. It has been placed on a table in the library's main hall, according to Outreach Librarian Roberta Roth, who is also on the Project Read staff.

The Menlo Park Library is at 800 Alma St.

Project Read has offered free English-language tutoring to adults in the community since 1985. The program currently has more than 100 adult learners and 90 volunteer tutors, according to Ms. Roth.

Go to literacypowerline.com for more information about the declaration project.

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