According to the National Literacy Project Foundation:
- There are 45 million adults in America who read below a 5th grade level.
- 50% of American adults can only read books written above an 8th grade level.
- 44% of Americans do not read a single book in a calendar year.
- 60% do not purchase a single book in one calendar year.
Functional illiteracy (1 in every 5 Americans) means that a person can read and write simple sentences (using simple vocabulary-about a 5th grade level)...but can't read or write well enough to function within society. The inability to comprehend and analyze job applications, notices sent in the mail, newspaper articles, television news broadcasts, bank statements, tax forms, political candidates/ platforms, editorial cartoons, instructions for medicine, orders from the boss, etc. can lead to a variety of potential risk factors in a person's life. Most importantly, education must once again be seen (according to a Mississippi Freedmen) as the "next best thing to Liberty."
ILLITERACY SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A NATIONAL EMERGENCY!
Maybe we should take a lesson from the newly freed slaves (Freedmen) after the Civil War who escaped from slavery with the great desire to acquire the ability to read and write...one man lamented,
"There is one sin that slavery committed against me that I will never forgive...it robbed me of my education."
Harriet Beecher Stowe commented, they rushed not to the grog-shop (saloon) but to the schoolroom- they cried for the spelling book as bread, and pleaded for teachers as a necessity of life!"