Now, compare that global scenario with disadvantaged neighborhoods here in America, where children are designated "at risk" in elementary school. A 2010 report by Johns Hopkins researchers showed that despite some progress, over 1,700 schools nationwide are so-called "dropout factories." Most of these schools are in high-poverty areas with high proportions of minority students, most with dismal reading scores. Children who lack the power of words are doomed before they begin. Too many young children in our communities -- and in Asia and Africa -- lack that crucial tool. Most have never seen their parents read. Literacy means participating in civil society; enjoying greater income for their families; reducing domestic violence; fostering healthier and better educated families; and, ultimately, saving children's lives.
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