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Gov. Deal speaks at literacy event
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Technical college educators, politicians and CLCP Directors from the state of Georgia met in Dawson County March 21-22 to discuss increasing adult literacy throughout the state as part of the Certified Literate Community Program of Georgia. The event, featuring both Ron Jackson, commissioner of the Department of Technical and Adult Education, and Gov. Nathan Deal as keynote speakers, was both a celebration of the achievements made in adult education and literacy, and a collaboration on how to take it even further in the future.

Were going to do something a little differently tonight, Gov. Deal said to the crowd at a March 21 dinner before diving into a short speech which alternated between moments of light clarity and serious reflection on the state of adult education in Georgia. After thanking the audience of educators for their hard work and service, Gov. Deal began discussing what still needs to be done in terms of increasing literacy in the state.

We have a lot of folks that start but dont finish, he said, speaking about people who attend high

school and college. He went on to emphasize the importance of students and adults not just having the skills needed to perform certain jobs, but also to attain certification in whatever field they have chosen to pursue as a career.

Gov. Deal, who is the son of two educators, also emphasized the importance of having students reading

at the third grade level when they have completed the third grade, saying that if they leave third grade

without reading at that level, the state spends money in remedial classes and other tactics to bring

students back up to the level at which they need to be reading.

The governors wife, Sandra Deal, a former teacher, also spoke at the dinner.

Were trying real hard to put you out of a job, she said slyly to much applause and laughter from the

CLCP Directors in the audience. She then read pieces from the book Who Id Like to Be, written by a

retired state school teacher when she was 90 years old.

Then, in a surprise, she read pieces of a book she had received earlier that day from a first-grade class

about who they wanted to be.

Even the governor got in on the fun by reading a portion of the book where the first graders muse

about what they would do if they were governor. The responses ranged from Id work hard to Id give

speeches and be on TV.

This year, the CLCP retreat featured the first-ever Literacy Honor Roll certificates, presented to a variety

of people throughout the state. From Dawson County, the Rotary Club is being presented with the

award as a group, and Joseph Hirsch is being presented the award as an individual.

Joe has been a proponent of literacy all his life, Sandra Lipkowitz, executive director of the Reading

Education Association of Dawson County, said. He was one of the founders of the literacy program in

Dawson County.

Lipkowitz herself was a recipient of the 2012 Leader of Distinction award for Excellence in a Certified

Literate Community Program given by the Georgia Press Association, for organizing major fundraising

events which raised $32,000 last year to promote literacy in Dawson County.

They also presented me a check of $200 for READ, Lipkowitz stated, explaining that will go into the

general fund to support the variety of programs READ supports, including paying for GED testing fees.

Through the retreat, sessions the educators took part in included information from the 2010 census, and

updates on a variety of technologies including Facebook and Twitter.

The thing that I was so interested in was all the updates on whats going with the CLCP and the GED

testing fees, Lipkowitz said, explaining that the price for taking the GED test in Georgia is expected to

increase to $32 per section, or $160 for all five sections of the GED. Its currently $19 per section, or $95

for all five sections. The pricing increase is not final, and is still being discussed at the state level and

will be voted on in the next few weeks. Computer based GED testing has already been implemented

in two major technical college service delivery areas and has been very successful. Implementation of

computer based GED testing throughout the state will begin in July 2012.

This years CLCP retreat was the 11th annual event for the organization.

The next fundraiser for READ in Dawson County is hosting the Race toward Literacy fundraiser April

14, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. Tickets are $30 per person. For more

information, contact Lipkowitz at 706-579-1771.