During the last election campaign there was much talk about the Latino Vote, the African-American Vote, the Asian vote, the Soccer-Mom Vote, the Jewish Vote, but no talk about the one vote that tipped the scales of this presidential campaign in favor of Obama: the Illiterate Vote.
Who and what is the Illiterate Vote? They are part of the 60 million illiterates in the United States that Arthur Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times, referred to in 1988 when he told a group of newspaper publishers, “Today up to 60 million Americans — one third of the adult population — cannot read their local newspaper. As we edge closer to the 21st century, life is becoming more complex and will become more difficult for adults who cannot read.”
And according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, things haven’t improved much since 1988:
In 2003, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) sponsored a comprehensive reading assessment of American adult literacy skills. Nineteen thousand adults were interviewed and given a reading assessment in all fifty states and the District of Columbia in both homes and in prisons.
After completion, this massive assessment revealed that only thirteen percent of American adults are proficiently literate, most of whom hold a college degree, while the majority merely have intermediate literacy skills. However, the population of adults with basic or below basic skills total forty-three percent according to NAAL research, which is far higher than those with proficient skills.
In other words, we are talking about a huge illiterate or semi-literate underclass in the United States, created by our public schools, most of whom live in our urban areas. How is it that so many children in our elementary schools never learn to read? A scandalous situation, considering how much is spent on public education. The result is that when these children become adults, they generally have little interest in politics and don’t vote.
Click here to read the entire article.
Sam Blumenfeld (photo)