As part of a Black History Month series, actor and author Hill Harper lectured to several students and community members about the importance of literacy at the IU auditorium. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 43% of the U.S. population has a low literacy rate.
Harper is an advocate of assisting youth to improve literacy through reading and writing. He says it’s important to meet students where they are. “I think there’s a sense of arrogance when we say this is the way you should learn, rather than saying what are you interested in. Let’s teach to their strengths. That’s really where we make some missteps in terms of literacy and in terms of engagement,” said Harper.
Hill explains that underrepresented students are not prepared to attend college and some Universities are working overtime to ensure they’re graduating students on time.
“There’s a domino effect when you have public education systems that we have in this country and the level of failure that is going on in terms of educating our young people,” said Harper.
Harper says that under-served populations in urban areas are the worst affected. “The schools have two jobs: they have to do the remedial work that the high school didn’t do to catch the student up, and then they have to educate them on a college level.”
It’s important that the schools improve graduation rates and they may only have a short period of time to do this.