A disturbing news article emerged today. You could find it in most every major newspaper in the country, many significant magazines, and all over the Internet. It was covered by every prominent television newscast, and debated all over the talk radio dial.
It revealed alarming data on a subject which everyone in the country should be seriously concerned about and involved with. Sooner or later, every citizen in this great country will be impacted, in one way or another, by this rapidly growing tragedy.
The headline alone didn’t appear to be that serious at first glance. It read: “One in seven U.S. adults unable to read this story.”
Then the more you think about it, the more shocking it becomes. It doesn’t take long to realize the many ways this trend can and will impact us negatively if not dealt with in the very near future.
The story details a long-awaited federal study that revealed that an estimated 32 million adults in the United States—about one in seven—are saddled with such low literacy skills that it would be tough for them to read anything more challenging than a children’s picture book or to understand drug side effects listed on a pill bottle.
The findings come from the U.S. Education Department’s National Assessment of Adult Literacy. In short, the study finds our nation hasn’t made a dent in our adult literacy problem. In fact, current literacy rates indicate that an alarming number of adults find it a real challenge to simply read a typical newspaper article or even figure out a basic telephone bill.
Sheida White, a researcher said, “They really cannot read … paragraphs (or) sentences that are connected.”
Not being able to read doesn’t just make it harder to navigate each day. Low literacy impairs people’s ability to obtain critical information about their health and can dramatically shorten their lives.
A new study from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine revealed that low health literacy was the top predictor of mortality after smoking, also surpassing income and years of education, the study showed.
U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings agrees, saying adult literacy efforts are inefficient and “scattered” across government agencies. Sound familiar? Think FEMA, IRS, HOMELAND SECURITY, AMTRAK, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT … need I go on?
This is an issue that’s going to require immediate involvement, dedication, and determination by schools, friends, families, communities, and employers from coast to coast. All indications seem to warn us that if we don’t overcome this challenge, it will certainly overcome us
YOU can read. Use that talent to research the many ways you can enlist in the battle against illiteracy. These comprehensive sites are a service of the National Institute for Literacy. They contain a wealth of useful information on all aspects of literacy.
Thousands of printable books, lesson plans, and worksheets to teach guided reading and key reading skills.
The International Literacy Institute (ILI) and the National Center on Adult Literacy (NCAL) at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education jointly sponsor this innovative site. You can search their extensive collection by region, topic, or perspective.
The International Reading Association
The International Reading Association is dedicated to promoting high levels of literacy for all by improving the quality of reading instruction, disseminating research and information about reading, and encouraging the lifetime reading habit. Members include classroom teachers, reading specialists, consultants, administrators, supervisors, university faculty, researchers, psychologists, librarians, media specialists, and parents. With members and affiliates in 99 countries, its network extends to more than 350,000 people worldwide.
National Adult Literacy Database
The NALD provides a comprehensive and readily accessible database of adult literacy programs, resources, services and activities across Canada. Readers of all nationalities, and tutors of all ages will be impressed by its exhaustive collection of educational resources.
The Western/Pacific Literacy Network is a leading Web-based resource for the literacy community.
Preparing for the AMERICA READS Challenge
The Bank Street College of Education presents effective and user-friendly tips for volunteer tutors. Sample lessons are included.
National Center for Family Literacy
You’ll find a wealth of user-friendly tips in its pages for the Head Start Family Literacy Program.
About Harry K. Jones
Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.