This week is National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. The goal of the week is to raise public awareness about the need for and value of adult education and family literacy. So it is fitting to kick off the week with an article on the importance family plays in education.

If you missed Mareen Downey’s article in the Richmond Times Dispatch last week, It’s the family that makes the difference, it’s worth reading. The article reviews the findings of a new major study that indicates “the private school edge is an illusion and family factors, rather than school factors, determine student outcomes.”

Robert Pianta, dean of the Curry School of Education, Novartis US Foundation Professor of Education, professor of psychology and founding-director of the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning at the University of Virginia authored the study and is quoted through out the article. Here is some of what he had to say.

“Many children are exposed to educational resources at staggeringly higher levels than those coming from much less advantaged homes and from stressed families. If you want to forecast children’s achievement outcomes, the best predictor is family income, regardless of the high school they go to, public or private. It is the family factors that carry the day.”

In metro Richmond more than 72,000 adults lack basic literacy skills. Without the ability to read well, do basic math, or to use computers well paying jobs are often out of reach. 68% of READ Center students self-identify as low-income.

If we do not invest in adult education so parents can improve their employment opportunities through education and job training, what does that mean for their children? Will the cycle of low literacy continue? Dean Pianata’s findings indicate it will until the resources gap is closed in our schools and our community.

The READ Center believes everyone needs and deserves a literate life.