National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week is September 18-24
RESERVATION — Education is the foundation of a community’s well-being, and literacy rates serve as an early indicator of future participation in the criminal justice system.
As National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week is celebrated September 18-24, 2022, River Parishes Community College and Literacy Clinic are among local entities working year-round to strengthen the parish. St. John the Baptist and surrounding areas by incurring costs. free educational opportunities for children and adults.
The Literacy Clinic launched a year-long pilot project in St. John’s Parish on August 25, 2021, with the 40e District Court of Justice serving as a mediator to identify those who could benefit from literacy services. An additional $75,000 from the state legislature was allocated in 2022 for the program’s second year, which has now expanded to Behrman Charter School in Orleans Parish.
According to Judge Nghana Lewis of the 40e Judicial district court. The long term vision is to have literacy clinics operating in every district of Louisiana.
Grades K-2 have been identified for services because this is the age when children learn to read, enabling them to read for learning in third grade and beyond.
“Before expanding to other schools, we want to dig deeper into a single school to get data that is reliable, transferable, and that can support our position that this is an intervention that will contribute to change,” Lewis said. “Studies indicate that if a child isn’t reading at grade level in third grade, there’s a greater likelihood that they won’t do well in school, and that’s when you start to see issues that may ultimately lead to that child entering the criminal justice system as a minor.
As St. John’s Parish recovers from Hurricane Ida, Lewis said the literacy clinic will host a literacy intervention within the local library system on Saturdays, opening services to children in the community at beyond the elementary Fifth Ward.
In the meantime, any family in St. John’s Parish that recognizes a need is encouraged to visit theliteracyclinic.org or get in touch with the 40e Judicial district court.
“We will do our best to match this family with services through FINS,” Lewis said.
Another goal for the second year of operation is to delve into the adult component of the Literacy Clinic’s operations.
“We seek to work with adults who are in the system for non-violent, non-sex related offenses. We strive to identify these individuals to provide them with the opportunity to enter the clinic and be supported to achieve their high school equivalency,” Lewis said.
The literacy clinic has partnered with River Parish Community College to raise awareness of adult education resources.
About 16.2% of Louisianans do not have a high school diploma. In the parishes served by the RPCC, the statistics are as follows:
- Assumption – 27.3%
- Iberville – 22.6%
- John the Baptist – 17.0%
- James – 14.5%
- Charles – 12.8%
- Climbing – 11.8%
According to Sarina Lirette, director of adult education at RPCC, Louisiana ranks fourth in the nation for the number of people without a high school diploma, and those people earn an average of $9,700 less per year compared to to those with a degree.
The four RPCC locations in Reserve, Boutte, Gonzales and Plaquemine as well as the satellite location in St. James offer a variety of adult education services at no cost to the community.
“Our most enrolled program is our high school equivalency program,” Lirette said. “There are actually five different paths people can take to achieve their high school equivalency, and we’re helping them figure out which path is best for them.
When a person enrolls in the program, an assessment tool is used to determine where they are at. Those who are determined to be at the sixth grade level or lower are first placed in a reading intervention program to set them up for success.
The duration of the course will depend on the individual needs of the student.
“We don’t operate on a semester basis like most colleges. We operate every 12 months and are only closed 14 days a year,” Lirette said. “It does not mean that a student will start and finish in 12 months. They will start with us and stay with us until they are finished. For some students, depending on where they are when they start , it may take a few months, for others it may be longer.
Adult education courses are currently offered day and evening, with the understanding that students have other obligations outside of the classroom.
According to Lirette, RPCC also offers short-term community education classes that can involve digital literacy, financial literacy, or other topics specific to community needs.
Individuals who earn their high school equivalency can choose to take advantage of state funding to complete one of RPCC’s many workforce training programs.
This week, PNCC will be promoting National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week to raise awareness of the plethora of resources available.
“We are not just a company or a college that has a building in these communities. We are members of those communities,” Lirette said. “We understand that for a community to thrive, education and training are key. We recognize that everyone’s journey is different, which is why we have different programs, from adult education to workforce training. We want to do everything we can to help unemployed or underemployed people learn the skills they need to have a better quality of life for themselves and their families, which also trickles down to the community.
While offering support, RPCC and The Literacy Clinic seek to identify potential barriers to education and connect individuals with resources to remove those barriers.
Lirette noted that transportation and child care are common barriers to returning to school. Adult education classes are offered face-to-face, online, and in hybrid formats to reach as many people as possible.
Lewis added that the transience and lack of stable housing has been a problem for families, especially after Hurricane Ida. Thanks to the literacy program, it is possible to monitor these families and continue to offer them services.
Other challenges include mental health awareness and the rapidly growing English-speaking second-language population in the region.
English as a Second Language courses are offered free of charge through the RPCC Adult Education Program to increase English language learners’ ability to communicate effectively with others.
For more information on RPCC programming, visit any of the campuses or complete the application form at rpcc.edu.