Fourteen Percent of U.S. adults are illliterate


Thank God I'm alive!
Yet another affirmation of the sorry state of American education.

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About 14 percent of U.S. adults won't be reading this article. Well, okay, most people won't read it, given all the words that are published these days to help us understand and navigate the increasingly complex world.

But about 1 in 7 can't read it. They're illiterate.

Statistics released by the U.S. Education Department this week show that some 32 million U.S. adults lack basic prose literacy skill. That means they can't read a newspaper or the instruction on a bottle of pills.

The figures are for 2003, the latest year available. State and county results are available here.

"The crisis of adult literacy is getting worse, and investment in education and support programs is critical," said David C. Harvey, president and CEO of ProLiteracy, in response to the finding.

This is about jobs and the economy, Harvey said.

"More than 1 million people lost their jobs in 2008 and the new unemployment figures are the highest in 16 years," Harvey said. "A large number of the unemployed are low-skilled individuals who struggle with everyday reading, writing and math tasks. The administration wants to create new jobs with the stimulus packages, but to take advantage of those new positions, these adults need basic literacy skills."

A separate study released last month named Minneapolis and Seattle as the most literate cities.

ProLiteracy, which promotes reading programs for the disadvantaged and encourages more government funding, estimates that illiteracy costs American businesses more than $60 billion each year in lost productivity and health and safety issues. Lack of funding at the federal, state and local levels prevents about 90 percent of the illiterate from getting help, the organization claims.

ProLiteracy also estimates:

* 63 percent of prison inmates can't read
* 774 million people worldwide are illiterate
* Two-thirds of the world's illiterate are women

If parents can't read, there's a good chance children will be poor readers, the organization notes.

I graduated high school in 2000. We had to take a basic skills test in 11th grade called the HSCT (this was before the much-feared FCAT in Florida) that basically made sure that we could do arithmetic, basic algebra and read some words. Nothing too intensive - and we got to use a calculator!

Now I've never been too awesome in math, but I can easily do simple stuff with some paper. Getting a calculator is like showing up to a fistfight with a rifle. Unless you just don't know WTF you're doing, you can't lose. Stunningly, nearly 30% of my class failed the math portion of the HSCT, and about as many struck out on the language portion. :blink: I was bowled over that not only was I not as terrible at math as I thought, but there were people who apparently couldn't even count to 10.

What do these people do with their time? Everything from getting gasoline to buying a bag of chips involves simple math. Even if you just smoke dope all day, don't you have to be able to figure out how many more blunts' worth you have left?

Tat.. Thanks for this post. I have been trying to get back it all day. It's been one of those snow removal days...
I graduated from school in the mid 60's and ran right to south east asia. I was amazed at how many guys were having trouble with basic skills back then. I now have a 14 yr old grandson that his report card looks fine, but give him some thing to read, he struggles badly with even the smallest words. It makes us wonder how his grades could be so good. The wiphe spends more time with him than I do, (My Bad) usualy a couple hours a week if he's here. I like having him read Bass Pro Catalogs, He LOVES to fish.. It does help to keep his interest in what he is reading.
My Point is our schools are failing. The parents that are involved have the kids that seem to do better. We need to get back to the basics including penmanship! You can't read it... Period.. WE do not spend the time in school teaching basic skills.
I think home schooling is great.. As long as the kids pass the same 11th grade tests the public school kids take. The test must be tougher... Period..
I could go On... The systems broke... Fix it....
Ricbac- you're right. Kids should be able to pass an aptitude test/abilities demonstration before graduating. The F-CAT here in Florida has demonstrated a potential flaw. Some of the lazier teachers out there focus on teaching the students how to pass the F-CAT, not how to read, write, and add.
I'm of the opinion we've tried to turn our public school system into more of a daycare provider than an educational institution. Discipline amongst kids is getting progressively worse and the ability of the school and teachers to discipline students or give them the boot encourages students to act like dumba$$e$. The dumba$$e$ only detract from the ability of the teacher to educate the willing. If there was no requirement to keep a troublesome student in school, maybe we could sort the wheat from the chaff a little earlier in the process to the benefit of those who go to school to get an education, not to kill 7 hours a day.
I don't think the schools are failing.... I think the gov't has made it almost impossible for the schools to discipline any student, and most parents aren't doing their job regarding discipline either. "Two parents working, and buy the kids what they want to keep 'em quiet" doesn't get it. It seems as if many parents just use the schools as a "baby sitter" for the kids. I know, sometimes parents (or a single parent) has a rough time of it, but the kids are paying the price, not to mention society. Anything one does requires discipline to do it well.... be it shooting, or growing up.
Yeh, I'm sure they know how to read which beer to buy and how much it cost.
Jay pretty much summed everything up to the tee.
I worked in the confinement section of a county jail. There were a lot of gang bangers that could not speak worth a darn but they coud remember all the gang signs.
14 percent? that is pathetic! seriously it is hard to imagine how people can go through school and still not be able to read. sounds like more people need to be held back until they get it right.
Fourteen percent

Thank you, Tat, for this info. This just points up something I have always said. Someone came out with a book not too long ago, "Why Johnny Can't Read.' To go a step further, the article did not address functional illiteracy, people who technically can read, but don't comprehend what they have read. I graduated from high school in 1965, and I am 62 years old. When I was a kid in school. we were required to be able to name all 48 states, later 50, give their capitals and basically, their primary base, such as agriculture, manufacturing, etc. I was required to take Indiana History, American History, Math, English and more. Some things I found out later amazed me. College Freshmen who could not read 8th grade level books, Army field manuals that had to be printed in 6th grade leverl language, high school history books that do not mention George Washington, but devote 8 pages to Marilyn Monroe, college students who thought Iraq was near Gerogia or Mississippi. One reason for the terrible level of education in our country today is the litiginousness of the American public. Teacher holds Johnny back because he is a discipline problem and will not do the work, then the parents sue the teacher and the school system. Bang! No more kids held back. We have kids who hold a high school diploma simply because they sat therei for four years. I saw a T-shirt once, "Another Brilliant Mind Destroyed by the Indianapolis Public Schools." Welcome to the dumbing of America.
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Kinda scary!
Patrons of this site are mostly weapons owners who choose to conceal their shooters, wondering how many can read the pages of federal or (biggy) state rules & regs that pertain to CCW laws or even the basic instuctions on clearing a shooter before blowing their nuts off/swap boobs (if female) because it said in bright red letters ALWAYS DOUBLE CHECK THE CHAMBER IS EMPTY BEFORE DRY FIRING THE WEAPON!, or variations on that theme. :lazy:

We homeschooled all 3 of ours.

My two oldest are in college. One of them is on the dean's list. My youngest is in 8th grade and can teach me advanced math. ABEKA puts out world class educational materials.

I was a product of public schools in Illinios. I had to re-learn a lot of stuff while I was in the USAF, (math for engineering issues, and sentence structure.)

Home school kids are a lot smarter than most IF the parents actually get involved. I am humbled by how incredibly smart kids are in general. They know everything from 13-18 years of age and will let you know that in any verbal joust!
Home school kids are a lot smarter than most IF the parents actually get involved. I am humbled by how incredibly smart kids are in general. They know everything from 13-18 years of age and will let you know that in any verbal joust!
I have some friends who have a 5-year old. He's scarily intelligent/charismatic, and he talks other kids, adults and whoever happens to be around into doing or getting stuff for him. He delegates jobs out to people and goes around offering encouragement. The other day he came over and said, "Try your hardest! Just do your best, I know you can do it. C'mon buddy, let's get it done!"

He's pretty much like that 24/7 and I feel like I'm dealing with the reincarnation of Dale Carnegie. He's going to grow up to be a big deal one day - hopefully it will be for good.
I think its possible that these numbers are correct (just look at the number of people who voted for The One). However, I'd like to see numbers from someone who isn't in the business of getting tax dollars for programs to deal with the problem they are reporting on.
I think its possible that these numbers are correct (just look at the number of people who voted for The One). However, I'd like to see numbers from someone who isn't in the business of getting tax dollars for programs to deal with the problem they are reporting on.
That would probably show even worse numbers.

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