LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES
To the Editor:
Re:Ocasio-Cortez Unveils Legislative Plan to Tackle 'Root Causes' of Poverty September 25, 2019
While Ocasio-Cortez's anti-poverty initiative "A Just Society" is a bold step towards tackling the 'Root Causes" of poverty, it omits a critical and foundational factor: early literacy. If we are going to address the systems that are the root causes of poverty, we cannot ignore literacy.
Literacy is vital to poverty alleviation. Early literacy unlocks opportunities in upward mobility, educational achievement, health, and economic development. Right now we face an invisible literacy crisis that disproportionately affects the poor, most often children of color.
There is a direct correlation between early reading success and high school graduation, future employment and successfully breaking the cycle of poverty. The disparity in literacy skills between rich and poor is an issue that has been largely ignored at the federal level.
This is an issue that is silent - crucial, yet solvable. “A Just Society” can move the needle. Let's add literacy to the conversation now.
Shari Levine is the Executive Director of Literacy, Inc. (LINC). LINC creates lasting change through its community based, 2-Generation approach to improving literacy outcomes in high-poverty neighborhoods.