Literacy is a priority

Published 12:50 am Thursday, June 9, 2011

To the Editor:

I would like to correct misinformation about Literacy Volunteers of Beaufort County, presented in a recent budget workshop. Commissioner Richardson requested that their budget request be denied, stating “most of what they do is teach illegals to speak English.” This is not true.

Last year (1/10-12/10), Literacy Volunteers served 46 clients. Of those, nine (20 percent) were white, 34 (74 percent) were African-American, and two were Hispanic (0.04 percent), both of whom were legal; one of the clients was Asian. This year to date, of those served, one is Hispanic, also legal. It’s easy enough to verify that data from their audits and staff interviews.

At that budget workshop, the Literacy Volunteers’ budget request was denied. I believe that the board strives to make its budget decisions based on the facts, and on the impact of services to the people of Beaufort County. I thought it would be helpful to have the correct information prior to a final vote. I respectfully request that the board of commissioners reconsider their position and restore the Literacy Volunteers request of $2,500. Budget decisions should not be made based on an individual’s personal prejudices or preferences. Commissioner Richardson would do well to remember, as others have said, you are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts.

With the illiteracy rate in Beaufort County at 16 percent, greatly impacting employability, the commissioners’ leadership in supporting programs targeting this issue would send the strong message that literacy in Beaufort County is a priority.