Policy

BB8 will inform state and local policy that: makes literacy a goal for every child in California; expands teacher training in structured literacy, social-emotional literacy and equity and inclusion practices; and expands children’s access to community and mental health services. 

Low literacy rates come with a high cost to California. The cost to California is 12 billion dollars a year or 1 trillion dollars in 60 years. In addition to the cost to the state’s budget, California will miss out on nearly $340 billion in GDP due to unemployment caused by illiteracy over the next 60 years. In relation to today’s GDP, this is a 0.3% boost in GDP if the barriers to literacy are properly addressed.

The costs are not only incurred by the educational system but also by the criminal justice system, litigation, health care and unemployment. People with low literacy skills are up to 3 times more likely to experience poor health outcomes, ranging from having less health knowledge, lower general health, a higher likelihood of disease, shorter life spans, and experiencing costly dementia later in life.

Low literacy also impacts happiness--people in poverty tend to experience more depression than their wealthier peers. Researchers have also found a link between literacy and safety for females--lower levels of literacy were associated with favoring violence towards women, and women who were married to an illiterate spouse were more likely to experience violence.