Westchester is known for its high standard of living: ample lawns, children playing on safe streets, and parents shopping at upscale boutiques. Yet we could also be known for something else: low literacy. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 13.3 percent of Westchester’s residents over the age of 16 lack prose literacy skills in English—more than one out of every eight people who live here. So how is it possible?
Patricia Rajala, CEO of Literacy Volunteers of Westchester/Rockland, Inc., in Yonkers says that 80 to 90 percent of those in the 13.3 percent are foreign-born and weren’t necessarily educated in Westchester schools. Still, she says, “if you can’t read or write English, you can’t live a comfortable life in the U.S. You can’t fill out a job application, deal with your children’s teachers, or read prescription labels.”