Louise knew you can't spell "National Literacy Week" without the help of a teacher.
Author: Claudia Pietrzak
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter at a desk writing on a document

This week we're looking at the congresswoman's push for literacy and more recognition of those who teach students how to read and write. At some point between 1989 and 1996, she delivered a speech to Congress in which she advocated for teachers in her district and proposed that they be recognized during National Literacy Week. Here's what she said:

“Mr. Speaker, reading is a basic skill that most people take for granted, yet there are millions of adults who cannot read and write well enough to meet the demands of today’s highly skilled workplace. The functionally illiterate are truly handicapped in a society where the majority of jobs require at least a high school education and in most cases, training beyond high school.

As we observe National Literacy Week, February 4th through the 11th, we should commend those who volunteer their time to help others open up a world of opportunities.

In my district, Monroe County Chapter of the Literacy Volunteers of America serves about 950 people each year. The 480 volunteer tutors treat their students with compassion and dignity while patiently helping them learn to read and write.

Most who seek help read at a fourth-grade level or below. The students set their own goals – whether it be to pass a driving test, get their high school diploma, or to read to their children. The literacy program also offers classes in English as a second language.

I would like to take this time to salute not only the volunteers, but those who had the courage to come forward and ask for help. They are unsung heroes.”

You can help honor the congresswoman's legacy, preserve history, and advance learning and scholarship by supporting the work being done to process and prepare this collection. Learn more, and make a gift today.