Cloaking every town, city and state is a deepening shadow of decline affecting all citizens in some way. A travesty overlooked by the media and politicians because it doesn’t garner a rise in emotions like immigration, abortion, Trump and gay rights do.
The literacy rate among our youth is so low that half of all Americans can’t read a book beyond an eighth-grade level. Society’s financial, moral and spiritual well-being is only as good as the literacy level of the population.
Sixty-four percent of all eighth-grade students are unable to read and write proficiently, including 82 percent of black students and 77 percent of Hispanic students, according to a recent study by the National Assessment of Education Progress.
Additionally, 30 million Americans cannot read or write beyond a third-grade level. When one cannot read well, then one is written out of the national conversation, essentially handing over their voice to others. Why aren’t the politicians talking about this in their town hall meetings? The answer lies in power.
Historically, the upper-class white landowners were the only ones reading and writing ensuring preservation of the social classes. The poor remained marginalized, while those with the means to attend school retained privilege and power.
Instead of discussing the illiteracy crisis today, politicians focus on issues that contribute to emotional reactions. The media study human behavior and target news in clips rather than in depth. Its premeditated deception becoming the poison that kills.
Average Americans work longer in order to live less. Reading well and thinking critically equals choices. When one simply charges through life, life becomes a battlefield; thoughtful reflection takes a back seat to volatility. Exhaustion becomes the national anthem, whimpering.
There’s no time to read with the children, nor to think critically about societal issues. Cellphones and video games replace parental guidance so critically needed for moral and intellectual development; thus, continuing the illiteracy chains of poverty.
The educated send their children to the best schools where they read myriad books that challenge their thinking. Research shows a 72 percent chance of being illiterate when the parents have low literacy levels. Alexis de Tocqueville said, “Literature is an arsenal from which all, including the weak and poor, daily choose.”
The young people of the upper classes will continue the economic divide because they have parents who have the finances and time to ensure their academic success.
All children deserve a chance to create a life of emotional, intellectual, and financial security — to contribute to the national story of this country. If parents aren’t educated and can’t provide opportunities, then the schools and teachers must do it. Each instructor must be well-educated and passionate about teaching in order to increase the students’ literacy levels, no matter the discipline they teach.
The single greatest impact besides a parent in promoting academic success and emotional maturity is a good teacher. America’s illiteracy crisis should be the No. 1 story told, but it’s not because power is their drug of choice.