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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 terri.frazier@vicksburgpost.com.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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