In the 1980s, Literacy Action experienced exponential growth throughout the Atlanta area, in Georgia, and even in the Southeast. Through relationships with Georgia Tech, Literacy Action piloted distance learning tools in the early 1980s for adult basic education teachers. Concepts, curricula, and competencies of Literacy Action were exported throughout the region.
Dr. Ken Breeden, the first commissioner of the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education (now called the Technical College System of Georgia), was very familiar with Literacy Action’s pioneering work in those days because of his close relationship with Dr. Vernon Crawford. Vernon, retired Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, was Literacy Action’s executive director when Ken first came on board with the technical colleges. “Vernon and I used to travel the state, at the encouragement of – and sometimes with the physical presence of – Gov. Joe Frank Harris,” recalled Ken. “We were convinced that every county in the state needed an organization like a Literacy Action – a community effort to address a community problem: low literacy.” At the time, in 50% of Georgia’s counties, one in four residents did not have basic reading skills.
The idea developed and ultimately became the Certified Literate Community Program, now a department of the Technical College System of Georgia. Ken noted, “Literacy Action and Dr. Crawford really spurred a holistic approach to Georgia’s literacy challenges, and our state – even all these years later – is better for those efforts.”