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A Times Public Service Report : We Are All Born Illiterate

Californians Who Can't Read: First In A Three Part Series

May 29, 1988|Most of the reporting and writing for "Californians Who Can't Read" was done by Carol Orsag Madigan

"CALIFORNIANS WHO CAN'T READ" IS A THREE--PART TIMES PUBLIC--service report, of which the first part, appearing today, deals with community--and workplace--based literacy training efforts.

No one is born literate. Everyone has to learn. To that extent, illiteracy might be called both a perennial and a universal "problem." The adequate solution to that problem in this country was once the public school, and for many--not just children but also adults--the school continues to be the best solution.

The Los Angeles Unified School District offers an "Adult Basic Education" program with two components: ESL (English as a Second Language) and Basic Skills Instruction, which aims to bring students up to an eighth--grade reading level

Classes are held in 29 community adult schools and six major basic education centers. All classes and materials are free of charge. Courses are taught in small classroom situations.

ESL and Basic Skills Instruction are also offered at nine area community colleges: East Los Angeles College, Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles Harbor College, Los Angeles Mission College, Los Angeles Pierce College, Los Angeles Southwest College, Los Angeles Trade--Technical College, Los Angeles Valley College, and West Los Angeles College (Airport Center).

Indispensable as these school and community college programs are, they remain a traditional response to a challenge that has important non--traditional features. THe third installment of "Californians Who Can't Read" will analyze some of these non--traditional features. THe second installment will present the more personal side of the illiteracy story: closeups of individual Californians who couldn't read but now can, and others who never saw themselves as teachers but are teaching with notable success. This week, The Times looks at an array of innovative responses at the group level, several of which are innovative principally by using existing resources in new ways or, often enough, simply in new places.

Editor's Note: For information about Los Angeles Unified School District ESL or Basic Skills Instruction programs, call (213) 625--6471. For the same in the Los Angeles community college system, call (213) 628--7788.

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