From NCPR Blogs:
Front and Center is a collaboration between WBEZ Chicago and other Great Lakes region public media journalists funded by the Joyce Foundation. North Country Public Radio is a contributing member to its series on literacy.
Front and Center Literacy Series
Front & Center launched an on-air and in-depth look at low literacy in the Great Lakes region (series home page at WBEZ). While difficulties reading or writing may or may not directly affect our listeners, the impact of low skilled residents reverberates far and wide. These include children who have trouble communicating or gaining respect because of the way they speak or write, and people stuck in low wage jobs and the mire of poverty, unable to help grow our economy. Why does this continue to be a problem when some countries have realized the economic and social potential of educating its nation's residents?
Here are some statistics about literacy in the Great Lakes region:
- 53% of adults have low or limited literacy skills.
- 43% of people with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty.
- 70% of people with the lowest literacy skills have no full or part time job.
- 54% of working age adults in extreme poverty have only a high school diploma or less.
- More than 20% of adults read at or below a fifth grade level, which is far below the level needed to earn a living wage. The National Adult Literacy Survey found that over 40 million Americans age 16 and older have significant literacy needs.
- More than 60% of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate.
- 84% of the need for English as a Second Language courses in Illinois is not being met.
- Medication errors due to misread or misunderstood prescription labels cause up to 7,000 deaths each year. Low literacy costs an estimated $73 billion in additional health care costs.
Here are some more far-reaching statistics about literacy in the United States:
- The dropout rate for students with LD and/or low literacy levels was estimated at 31.6 % as compared to 9.4 % for students with no disabilities (U. S. Dept. of Education, 2007).
- An estimated 25 to 33% of students are struggling to achieve competency in completing assignments by hand, despite the fact that it remains a prevalent practice in many elementary schools.
- Sixteen states do not require children to receive any preventive vision care before starting school or while enrolled in school. Thirty-three states (including D.C.) require a vision screening, but 28 of them do not require children who fail the screening to receive an eye exam by an eye doctor.
- 24% of children over the age of two in heavy TV households can read, compared to 36% of children in other homes. This difference is even more pronounced among the four- to six-year-old group, where 34% of those in heavy TV homes can read, compared to 56% of those in non-heavy TV homes, according to their parents.