NEWS RELEASE
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
February 26, 1997
Contact: Rick Svataro, (512) 463-0113

Ellis Amendment Increases Funds for Community-based Adult Literacy Programs.

AUSTIN, Tx. -- State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) today won Senate approval of a floor amendment that would target five percent of administrative savings in the state's lottery program to support community-based literacy programs for adults. According to Ellis, adult illiteracy in Texas is a serious problem that threatens the state's economic future.

"Dedicating a portion of lottery savings to support community-based adult literacy programs in Texas is smart for our future," Ellis said. "Citizens who have the ability to read and participate in lifelong learning will be more likely to succeed in a quickly changing and challenging 21st century global economy."

Ellis pointed to several distressing facts about illiteracy in Texas and across the nation:

More than 44 million American adults are barely able to read.*

In Texas, more than 6 million adults -- half of the adult population -- are functionally illiterate.

An estimated 2.2 million American adults are added to the illiterate population each year.

66 percent of prison inmates are functionally illiterate.

Because of a lack of funding, literacy groups reach only a small percentage of people who need or want help.

Ellis amended legislation by State Senator Drew Nixon (R-Carthage) that would dedicate savings from competitive bidding for state lottery contracts to the Texas Foundation School Fund which provides funds for public education in Texas.

According to Margaret Doughty, Executive Director of the Houston READ Commission, additional funding for community-based learning centers would help ensure that literacy programs in homeless shelters, churches, health clinics and other areas remain open and would expand literacy education for adult learners.

"Community-based literacy programs are essential to support Texans who fall through the cracks in our traditional education system," Doughty said. "Dedicating a portion of savings from the administration of the state's lottery program will help make literacy services available to every adult Texan who needs them."

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Sources: *National Adult Literacy Survey, September 1993; Texas Adult Literacy Survey, May 1994; Literacy: Behind Prison Walls, 1995.

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