Monday, August 19, 2019




When Jonathan Kozol wrote 'Illiterate America' in 1985, he said 60 million adults or about 1/3 of the adult population were seriously illiterate. They couldn't read or couldn't read well enough to function as fully-participating citizens of our democracy. I'm aware of that from holding my sign. Many people stare at it as though it were in some other language. Some who can just make out what it says, let me know they can read it by saying Absolutely or Ain't That the Truth as though they could read easily. One bright-looking woman who I tutored in an adult literacy class a few years ago told me she had headaches when she got home from work from staring so hard at the pages of a book on the subway to make it look like she was reading it.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. This is America’s hidden secret (redundant? No, there IS such a thing as an open secret, even if that sounds like an oxymoron.) An open secret is something everyone knows but nobody talks about. A hidden secret is something most people don’t even suspect.
    My first church was in a little crossroads town south of Buffalo. I soon figured out that, on an average Sunday morning, I was married to half of the college graduates in the congregation. The other half was sitting behind me on the organ bench. It took me two years, however, before I realized that a significant portion of the congregation, maybe a majority, could not read. They were incredibly good at faking it, and were deeply ashamed of it. It was a profound lesson. I never again assumed that everyone can read. It also underlines the crisis in the American economy. In the 70’s people who could not read still worked at good paying jobs. Today, I’m not sure what people can do if they cannot read. Deliver pizzas, I guess,

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