Adult Literacy in Indiana
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Mary McLeod Bethune, an African-American educator and adviser to U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt, has been quoted as having said, "The whole world opened to me when I learned to read." Unfortunately for many in Indiana, the "whole world" may be closed to them because of illiteracy. According to the Indiana Adult Literacy Coalition in 1989, 12% to 19% of Hoosiers over age 25 could not read or write at a functional level. As early as 1930, illiteracy was recognized as an issue within the state. An article in the Indinapolis Star dated September 25, 1930, headlined that over 50,000 Hoosiers were illiterate ("52,034 in state," 1939). It is natural to assume that at some point Indiana developed a robust statewide initiative to address the problem of illiteracy amongst its citizens. One might imagine a program that over time slowly but surely reduced the number of Indiana citizens who struggled under the mantle of illiteracy; however, myriad reasons and circumstances have conspired to prevent that from happening. Instead of a forceful statewide program, numerous segmented efforts by local or regional entities with modest support from various federal, state, or non-profit organizations are more apt to be found.