Thankfully, two ugly bills die in Legislature
Without programs that encourage, support and nurture those who write or who are interested in writing, we could experience a trickle down result that would affect all of us.
Without writers, what would we read?
On Thursday, I had the privilege of visiting one of the many classrooms in Vicksburg that were recognizing the National Educations Association’s Read Across America program.
I am one who has always enjoyed reading, so it was inspiring to see young children experiencing the written word.
I think knowing how to read is essential, and for those who disagree, here are some hard facts that were listed on bragmedallion.com, a website dedicated to helping promote authors.
4 It is estimated that more than $2 billion is spent each year on students who repeat a grade because they have reading problems
4 Sixty percent of America’s prison inmates are illiterate, and 85 percent of all juvenile offenders have reading problems
4 U.S. adults ranked 12th among 20 high-income countries in composite (document, prose, and quantitative) literacy
4 More than three out of four of those on welfare, 85 percent of unwed mothers and 68 percent of those arrested are illiterate
4 Approximately 50 percent of the nation’s unemployed youth age 16 to 21 are functionally illiterate with virtually no prospects of obtaining good jobs
4 Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3 to 4 times more likely to drop out in later years
So I repeat, reading is essential, and Mississippi children who read may also become Mississippi writers.
Our state is home to so many well-known authors, it seems odd to me that our governor would want to squelch any organization that could serve as a creative avenue for writers, but earlier this month the Mississippi Legislature tried to abolish the Mississippi Arts Commission with Senate Bill 2611 and House Bill 1325.
The bills were both designed to dissolve the MAC and transfer these efforts to the legislative portion of the state government to the agency that pursues jobs and promotes tourism.
Thankfully, both bills died, and as of today the MAC will survive as a stand-alone state agency.
But if they had passed, it could have been detrimental, because advocates for the MAC were afraid that by dissolving the small-budget commission, it could have impacted those who appreciate and are part of the state’s creative community.
Part of our heritage is reflective in the wealth of talent that has come out of our state, which includes not only musicians and artists but the abundance of writers such as William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Margaret Walker, John Grisham, Willie Morris, Greg Iles, Nevada Barr and Kathryn Stockett to name only a few.
Mississippi writers have inspired Mississippi children. Lose one, you lose both.
And without writers, what would we read?
Terri Cowart Frazier is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who doesn’t remember reading The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham? Those sweet, simple, lyrical books excited... read more