The State of Literacy in America

The United States is facing a literacy crisis. Yes, crisis. It isn’t new, but its impact upon our kids, our economy, and our society are far-reaching and expanding. How bad is it? Take a look at some numbers.

  • More than 30 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third grade level. — ProLiteracy
  • Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out. — National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
  • 75 percent of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate. — Rand Report: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education
  • Low literacy is said to be connected to over $230 billion a year in health care costs because almost half of Americans cannot read well enough to comprehend health information, incurring higher costs. — American Journal of Public Health
  • 7 Ways Education Powers a Better World

    Education makes us better citizens by teaching us how to conduct ourselves through life by following rules and regulations and giving us a sense of conscience. It make us more confident to go out there and achieve things. Many governments across the world have recognized the importance of education as a tool to enhance progress and make the USA a better place. Let us see how it achieves that:

    1. Education spreads awareness: Blind faith and superstitions are what bog down society. People misled by false beliefs do more harm than good to society. Education helps us question, gives us an analytical mind and helps us reject superstitions. An educated mind asks for logic and scientific reasoning behind all actions.

    2. It helps us stand up against wrong and for the right: Education helps lower crime rate. That’s because the educated can differentiate between what’s right and what’s wrong. Research has shown that increasing the high school completion rate by just 1 percent for all men ages 20-60 would save the U.S. up to $1.4 billion per year in reduced costs from crime. This is true for other regions as well.

    3. It helps progress: Better education opens up a host of opportunities and this is especially relevant in the times we live in where technology and education ensure that opportunities are not bound by geography.

    4. It gives us a healthier lifestyle: Better educated people tend to live longer and have better lifestyles. For example research conducted in central European OECD countries have shown that a 30-year-old tertiary-educated man can expect to live eight years longer than a 30-year-old man who has not completed upper secondary education. While a tertiary-educated woman can expect to live four years longer than a woman without an upper secondary education.

    5. Helps us to be more productive: It is a fact well known that the more degrees you have, better would be your economic performance. There is a deep connection between education and productivity and in this age where there is competition at every turn, education is what will help an industry and subsequently a nation, to flourish.

    6. It helps us connect across borders: Digital education has helped achieve this. Education has given students from across borders opportunities to connect and communicate and work towards building a better future and a better world. For example, a professor in America can help inspire a student in Afghanistan to study and travel the world, help herself and a whole generation after her, to lead a better life.

    7. It gives empowerment: Education helps turn weakness into strength. Education gives us the confidence to stand for ourselves. It improves our decision making capabilities, makes us mobile and gives us access to social networks. Many researches have proven that in countries where women are subjected to gender bias, education helped them stand up against marital violence, improved their decision making capabilities and helped them take charge of their own lives.