School of Human Ecology fights illiteracy with conference

December 18, 2008

by David Awalt

Tech’s School of Human Ecology hosted a literacy conference in mid-November to recognize the efforts of people who are fighting illiteracy in Louisiana.

The Center for Children and Families, a department within the School of Human Ecology, teamed up with the Literacy Interagency Consortium and co-sponsored a three-day State Family Literacy Conference.

About 75 family literacy workers from all over Louisiana attended.

Michael Plette, a senior family and child studies major, said he thinks literacy for underprivileged families is very important.

“[Literacy] definitely helps people succeed in the real world,” Plette said. “I mean, if you can’t read well you can’t really do much of anything these days.”

According to the press release for the event, Family Literacy, which aims to improve the educational opportunities of low-income families, is the new name for the old Event Start program and is free to participants.

Also according to the press release, parents enrolled in the adult education program are given the opportunity to earn their GED, while children up to eight are provided early childhood education.

Through the efforts of State Representative Hollis Downs, the guest of honor for the event, along with Rep. Rick Gallot and Sen. Bob Kostelka, the Northeast Louisiana Family Literacy Consortium received $200,000 from the state this summer. This marked the first time the program has ever gotten state funding the press release said.

Seth Hillman, a former Tech student living in Ruston, thinks programs like this are important and supports educating the underprivileged.

“It’s great that our government is helping out stuff like that,” Hillman said. “I really hope that money goes to a good use.”

Dee Scallan, a children’s book author from Monroe, served as mistress of ceremonies for the banquet, which was held in the Student Center Ballroom for the purpose of recognizing the progress made in the past years.

The press release also said Rick Hohlt, the publisher of the Ruston Daily Leader, was honored for his works as an Even Start advocate.

Kaye Sharbono, the regional director was reported as crediting Hohlt with helping the legislators understand how Even Start works.
Plette said he thinks this is a noble cause.

“I’m glad that somebody is helping people who really need it especially in an area as important as literacy,” Plette said. “I just think being able to read is really important.”