Yes, a storm is brewing …
One out of every five U.S. residents (35 million adults) functions at a “below basic” level of literacy, struggling with tasks such as reading product labels, using an ATM or reading a children’s story. (National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 2003)
“By one set of measures, more than 88 million adults have at least one major educational barrier—no high school diploma, no college, or ESL language needs. With a current U.S. labor force of about 150 million (16 and older), a troubling number of prime working age adults likely will fall behind in their struggle to get higher wage jobs, or to qualify for the college courses or job training that will help them join or advance in jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage. More than two-thirds of the workforce is beyond the reach of the schools.” (National Commission on Adult Literacy, 2008)
Although the numbers are big and the impact is astronomical, there is some good news. The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that there were fewer adults with “below basic” document and quantitative literacy than in 1992. From the Study: Document literacy is the knowledge and skills needed to perform document tasks (i.e., to search, comprehend, and use information from various texts in various formats, such as bills or prescription labels), Quantitative literacy is the knowledge and skills required to perform activities that are related to numbers (e.g., compute data, including numbers embedded in printed material).
Literacy is learned. Illiteracy is passed along by parents who cannot read or write. ~ Begin to Read website
Quite the vicious circle, no? We need to help kids learn to read … but we also need to assist the parents who need to read their prescription labels and help with homework, yet who feel disconnected themselves.
How do we turn this scary story into a happily-ever-after one? This is something we all need to talk about!
Image Source: Purzin Cartoon Jack o’Lantern on OpenClipArt.org