The United States of America and the Functional Illiterates who contribute to its Decline

Functional illiteracy in the United States is growing at a rate of over 2 million new inductees per year into its ranks and the tide will only grow stronger if current educational policies are not changed to address the problem. The Presidential legislation of No Child Left Behind is not working and the country as a whole is now and will in the future suffer the consequences.

Statistics show that functional illiterates in this country;

  1. Constitute 70% of the prisoners in state and federal prisons
  2. That 85% of juvenile offenders are classified as functionally or marginally illiterate
  3. That 43% of those with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty
  4. Over 42 million American adults can’t read
  5. 50 million read at fourth or fifth grade levels
  6. That the total number of functionally illiterate adults increases by approximately 2.25 million persons every single year

What is even more depressing and disturbing for this once great country is that 20% of all graduating high school students are functionally illiterate. This is at a time when the United States of America is spending over $10 billion dollars a year to combat this growing phenomenon. While public education funding has doubled in the last fifteen years, testing indicates the percentage of American children who read well has not improved for the last 25 years.

This directs our attention to a fundamental flaw in the educational system that is in use in its present form in our schools and universities across the nation.

The present method of memorization of materials is just not working and the results present us with a government and an educational system that is failing in its mission.

The U.S. Department of Education is currently recommending the phonics approach to teaching young adults, yet there are many American schools, teachers, and colleges who teach teachers that are unwilling to accept this recommendation.

The author of Why Johnny Can’t Read by Rudolf Flesch which is a reported classic book on the use of phonics further strengthens the department’s argument. According to the author, ‘the teaching of reading — all over the United States, in all the schools, in all the textbooks — is totally wrong and flies in the face of all logic and common sense’. The author does not blame the teachers, or the schools, he does however clearly blame the methods in use that have not changed since 1927.

There have been hundreds of studies that have shown that the phonics method consistently provides better results in educating the young minds of our country. Phonics teaches the relationship and fundamental relationship between letters and sounds first, and then concentrates on reading later, which is the exact opposite of the look and say approach currently in use.

In all honesty the citizens of the United States do not have to be overly concerned by this latest phenomenon. We can just warehouse these illiterate individuals in our current prison system which is now costing American society only $60 billion dollars a year a small pittance to pay versus truly taking action to educate our young children. As they will more than likely live in poverty and will join the ranks of the 42 million uninsured which cost the American taxpayer $43 billion dollars in 2005, they will also just die off from disease and the lack of access to our healthcare system. There is also no need to worry about the economic impact of $65 to $130 billion dollars of lost productivity per year due to the uninsured in America.

So why should the United States as a nation care about these people of lower educational status?


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2 Responses to The United States of America and the Functional Illiterates who contribute to its Decline

  1. Pingback: Hope and change in schooling are sorely needed | The Public Philosopher

  2. kip says:

    Why the hell should the “haves” care about teaching the “have-nots” to read and write? That would make it so much more difficult to keep them down! No child left behind…BS!

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