Literacy initiative crucial to future

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Adult success requires life-long learning. Reading and writing skills pave the way.

IT'S A MISCONCEPTION to think even the most motivated students will learn everything they need to know to be successful adults by spending their growing-up years going to school.

Consider: Studies suggest a person is likely to change careers 5-7 times during a working life. Even more to the point, the trend is accelerating. Millennials are expected to make around four changes during the first 10 years of a career.

For individuals, that means learning must be a life-long pursuit in order to keep up with the demands of building and sustaining a successful career. Falling behind is a surefire dead end. And nothing will be more important in determining individual ability to adapt and learn the right new skills than reading and writing competency.

SO WE APPLAUD the growing emphasis on literacy not only in the School District of Beloit, but within the community as more and more organizations join the crucial partnership.

The latest is the Beloit Health System, where pediatricians and obstetrician-gynecologists are joining forces to support the Beloit Literacy for Life initiative. The physicians' offices will be distributing children's books to their patients, with age-appropriate materials going to all kids 5 and under.

That particular effort is benefitting from a $11,000 grant by the Colonel Robert H. Morse Foundation. A major player in providing the wherewithal to support the overall literacy effort has been the Stateline Community Foundation.

At Beloit Memorial High School, new Principal Orlando Ramos has been telling everyone who's listening he will insist the facility put literacy skills at the top of the to-do list. The student experience will stress reading and writing in every way imaginable. The idea is not to move kids through the system, but to prepare them to meet the challenges of adulthood.

THESE EFFORTS DESERVE the full community's support. To be blunt, Beloit has done a magnificent job the past quarter century in transforming the physical appearance and amenities of the community - but if similar efforts are not made and followed through to fruition for the human capital, long-term success is questionable.

Neither is it acceptable for the community to exercise what President George W. Bush called "the soft bigotry of low expectations" for its challenged students. All the kids eventually will leave the confines of the campus. It's a tough world out there. The only thing employers truly respect is the ability to bring value to the organization. A free-market economy is not a social program. Young people must not only be educated while in school, but must develop the ability to become life-long learners.

Literacy is the key. Solid reading and writing skills are the golden ticket to a brighter future. Beloit has made a start. Get behind it.

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