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Americans Don’t Read… and that’s Affecting our Elections

In 2013, the Nation’s Report Card showed that only 38% of high school seniors were proficient in reading. With scores like that, the U.S. isn’t likely to earn the “most literate country” award any time soon.
So what is America’s international literacy ranking? According to The Washington Post, the U.S. places seventh behind Nordic countries such as Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Such a score is obtained by looking at newspaper circulation and readership, library availability, education access, reading scores, and computer usage in each nation.

literacy-rank
The Washington Post bemoans the fact that the leading nation of the free world ranks so low in such an important area. And well they should, particularly as the following U.S. literacy statistics are even more alarming:
14% of adults can’t read.
Only 13% of adults can read at a proficient level.
28% of adults didn’t read a book in the last year.
50% of adults can’t read a book written at an 8th grade level.
But so what, right? In our enlightened digital age, what harm does it really bring if American literacy is tanking?
A lot of harm, according to John Adams, particularly when it comes to elections. In 1761, he noted:
“The very Ground of our Liberties, is the freedom of Elections. Every Man has in Politicks as well as Religion, a Right to think and speak and Act for himself. No man either King or Subject, Clergyman or Layman has any Right to dictate to me the Person I shall choose for my Legislator and Ruler. I must judge for myself, but how can I judge, how can any Man judge, unless his Mind has been opened and enlarged by Reading. A Man who can read, will find in his Bible, in the common sermon Books that common People have by them and even in the Almanack and News Papers, Rules and observations, that will enlarge his Range of Thought, and enable him the better to judge who has and who has not that Integrity of Heart, and that Compass of Knowledge and Understanding, which form the Statesman.”
Considering the state of the 2016 election, would you say it’s high time for Americans to step up their literacy game?

Author: Annie Holmquist

This article was originally published on IntellectualTakeout.org on March 9, 2016

Image Credit: Samuel Bletenholz

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except for material where copyright is reserved by a party other than Intellectual Takeout.

Please do not edit the piece, ensure that you attribute the author and mention that this article was originally published on IntellectualTakeout.org on March 9, 2016

Emine Dilek (194 Posts)

Publisher/Managing Editor: Progressive Press. Contributing Editor: WVoN-Women's Views on News. Columnist: Palm Beach Woman Magazine. Former executive producer and radio host: WVR -Women's Voice Radio, Human Rights/Peace Activist, Aspiring Author/ Journalist/ Poet/ Blogger. Emine also appears as a revolving guest on PNN radio show -international political analyst-, and had been a guest on Liberal Fix and Brian Hammer Jackson Show. Her articles have been published in various publications such as The Vibe UK, The New Agenda, W.E.A Women @ Work, Amazing Women Rock and ICAHK.


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