Literacy: the key to empowerment

May 5, 2023 | Blog

By Dr. Dia Bryant
Executive Director, Ed Trust–NY

Frederick Douglass was a prominent African American abolitionist, social reformer, writer, and statesman who lived in the 19th century. 

Douglass recognized the power of education and literacy in the fight for freedom and equality. He taught himself to read and write while still enslaved and later became a powerful orator and writer who used his skills to advocate and inform right here in New York. Douglass famously said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” He believed that education was the key to empowering Black people and helping them achieve true freedom and equality.

In 2023, literacy in America is still important for many of the same reasons it was important to Douglass. Access to education and the ability to read and write is essential for achieving economic and social mobility and for advocating for one’s own rights and interests. In a society where systemic inequalities and discrimination still exist, literacy is a powerful tool for empowerment and social change. 

That’s why The Education Trust–New York spent a year researching the state of the early literacy landscape in New York, culminating in our report A Call to Action: The State of early literacy in New York. The report elevates non-evidence-based practices in teaching of reading, and shares recommendations on how state and local leaders can address New York’s poor reading outcomes by anchoring reading and literacy instruction in the science of reading.  

New York, once a leader in rigorous K-12 education, can lead the nation and provide schools with the leadership, guidance, and tools that teachers and students deserve. New York has a unique opportunity to learn from other states and craft thoughtful policies that meet the unique needs of New York students. 

What you can do: 

  1. Read the report and help spread the word. We have the tools. We know what to do.
  2. Watch Right to Read. Support local screenings or hold one yourself for your community. 
  3. Listen to Sold a Story to learn more about how we teach children to read and the ways we can shift pedagogy to improve their skills.
  4. Share on your social media channels using this toolkit

Ed Trust–New York welcomes opportunities to expand upon the information in this report with your community. We are a resource, and hope that you will reach out should you wish to share feedback or learn more.