Today Congressman Dan Maffei announced that he has formed the bi-partisan Congressional Adult Literacy Caucus. The announcement was made in Syracuse, which considered the "home" of the adult literacy movement, at the location of the new ProLiteracy building on the Near West Side. ProLiteracy continues the fight to encourage adult literacy in order to improve the lives of adults, their families and communities. ProLiteracy, the world's largest organization of adult literacy and basic education programs, provides advocacy, professional development, training, technical assistance, and materials to the programs that help adults learn to read, write, perform basic math, use technology, and communicate in English.
Congressman Dan Maffei said: "Syracuse is the home of the adult literacy movement, and it is my privilege to be here to announce that I am the founding member of the Congressional Adult Literacy Caucus. At a time when political bickering defines so much of what happens in Washington DC, this is an issue that this is a bi-partisan effort. And even in such a heated political time, Republican Congressman Roe has joined me as a co-chair of the caucus. We started the caucus just days ago and already have more than a dozen members."
Maffei continued: "I often talk about how an investment in education is an investment in our economy. The only way to make sure America can compete in a global economy is to continue to produce top tier students. But education is literally investing in our economy here on the Near West Side of Syracuse. ProLiteracy and partners like WCNY are coming here and investing in the community. Education and the economy go hand in hand, and I'm so proud to be standing here today with so many great partners in this cause."
David C. Harvey, president and CEO of ProLiteracy, said: "Congressman Maffei is a steadfast champion for education and literacy on behalf of the people of Central New York. His leadership in forming the first-ever House Adult Literacy Caucus will focus national attention on this silent crisis and its link to economic recovery, jobs, and quality of life."
The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that there are approximately 93 million adults in the United States who do not have the literacy skills needed to reach their full potential. Thirty million of those individuals have such low levels of literacy that it significantly impedes their ability to fully function at home, at work, and in their communities. Additionally, nearly 800 million adults worldwide are illiterate in their native languages; two-thirds of these are women.
Maffei concluded: "In many ways, education has been a defining crusade of my first term in Congress. I believe we have a moral obligation to ensure all citizens of our country can access a quality education, from early childhood education to adult literacy. The Recovery Act provided more than a billion dollars for Head Start. I fought for K-12 funding in the Recovery Act, which ultimately saved hundreds of teachers' jobs here in Central New York. I partnered with "Say Yes to Education" and SU and ProLiteracy to secure funding for their projects.
"One of the hallmark pieces of legislation from Congress that largely went unnoticed this year was the Student Aid Reform Bill. Because of that bill, we've increased the number of Pell Grant recipients in my district to 15,921 students. They're receiving over $57 million in aid this year alone. And now I have started the Adult Literacy Caucus because I truly believe we can never turn our back on any one, any student, of any age, when it comes to getting a good education."