The Public Face of Literacy Work (that hides the true face of literacy work)

Me: "Good morning! What are you fellows up to?"

Young Man #1: "We're raising awareness of literacy."

Me: "Oh, yes?"

Young Man #1: "We're giving away free newspapers and asking people if they would like to make a donation to literacy."

Me: "Where does the money go?"

Young Man #1: "It goes right into a local program. None of it goes into red tape or fund raising overhead."

Me: "What program does it go to?"

Young Man #1: "I'm not sure, actually." Looks to friend. "Do you know?"

Young Man #2: "No..."

Me: "So you guys don't work in literacy? You're not literacy workers?"

Young Man #2: "No. He's a doctor and I'm a journalist."

Young Man #1: "But there is a story in the paper that tells all about it."

Me: "That's okay. I know where it goes. It goes to something called the Elementary Literacy Friends set up by Jamie Irving and the Department of Education a little while back."

Young Man #2: "Yeah... that sounds familiar."

Me: "It pays to manage volunteers who go into schools to read with Grade Two students. I work in literacy with children and families and adults. We used to take part in this fund raiser, when the money raised went to literacy organizations. But then we stopped being welcome, and all the money went to pay for Mr. Irving's idea."

Young Man #1: "So.... Would you like a paper?"

Me: "No, I have two papers in my classroom."

Young Man #1: "Huh. Great. Would you like a sticker?"

Me: "No. I don't want a sticker."

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