America must deal with literacy problem

Published: Sunday, January 8, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 7, 2006 at 11:37 p.m.
After burying a story on 10A on Dec. 16, The Sun finally grasped the significance and put it on page one on Dec. 26. This story, sourced from the Department of Education's assessment of adult literacy, confirms the dumbing down of the citizenry and explains the cause of so many misguided beliefs.
Only 13 percent of adults are proficient enough to handle "complex activities such as comparing viewpoints in two different editorials." The other 87 percent, to varying degrees, must be susceptible to demagogy, lies, spin and propaganda. This report is a viable explanation for the success of Fox News, right-wing talk radio and the GOP.
American literacy levels are so low many citizens believe the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is evil merely because they bring civil rights cases to the courts, civil marriages for homosexuals will somehow destroy heterosexual unions, global warming is a myth, government is too secular, health care should be rationed by a profit-incentivized system, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Iraq was connected to the 9-11 terrorists, the media is biased toward liberals because it fails to provide lavish coverage of conservative beliefs, tax monies should go to faith-based organizations although they can discriminate against anyone for the pettiest of excuses, et al.
Reason, facts and logic have little impact on such beliefs because of this appalling lack of literacy. Educators, at all levels, must provide solutions. FCAT and No Child Left Behind aren't viable programs.
William Lindsay, Chiefland

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