Living In Darkness

June 29, 2009
By Alexandra Rivera BRONZE, Deerfield Beach, Florida
Alexandra Rivera BRONZE, Deerfield Beach, Florida
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Today’s society is filled with numerous problems: global warming, extreme poverty, disease, addiction, environmental disasters; the list goes on and on. However, there is one problem that society rarely hears about, one that’s happening in our own backyard, which is illiteracy, a topic that most Americans seldom speak about. Statistics prove that more than 32 million American adults, which is about 14 percent of the total population, are functionally illiterate, and this amount increases by 2.25 million per year. This alone is a sign that education is vital for our country.

Illiteracy is defined as the inability to read. However, there are two types of illiterate Americans. There are the illiterate, which are those who can read, but only very minimal, which is somewhere around the fourth to eighth grade reading level. Then, there are the functionally illiterate, which are those unable to read anything at all, and which comprises of 7 million Americans. According to ABC News, “undiagnosed learning disorders, poverty, and unstable home lives all contribute to illiteracy.”

Though not all Americans suffer from the difficulties stated above in their lives, illiteracy is a prevalent force in our nation, and even though the government spends 10 billion dollars and counting on education services, not everyone’s literary needs is being met. Even though the government spends countless amounts of money on trying to teach the American population to read, the knowledge that we receive from our educational system is not as great as compared to the education received by other countries (i.e.: China and Finland), hence the fact that the majority of our people-30 million to be exact-are unable to read a simple sentence. The U.S. has also ranked twelfth on a literacy test among the “20 high-income countries in the world,” in which that statistic alone should be a wake-up call that something is obviously wrong with our educational methods in America and that something should be done about it.
Personally, illiteracy hits home. Both of my grandparents on my mother’s side of the family are functionally illiterate. The fact that the two of them are illiterate is a very hard thing to live with because everything involving reading and writing has to be done for them. I can never write a letter to them or show them an article of interest in a magazine or newspaper. Also, being an aspiring writer, I can’t even show my grandparents any of the work that I’ve written because it can’t be read. My mom has to sign all of their checks, write the addresses on every envelope they have to send out, and read out all of the food labels at a grocery store because my grandmother can’t read them herself. Just my very own experiences in seeing how illiterate people struggle through their everyday lives is a sign that illiteracy must be stopped, because everyone deserves to have an education and no one deserves to encounter difficulties when trying to do something as simplistic as reading a stop sign or writing their own name.

So, the question stands: how is America able to fully combat this literacy ailment that’s driving more and more of our population into ignorance? The same way that Americans join organizations that fight for cures for diseases or for peace; they could also take a stand against illiteracy by joining organizations that strive to fight against this plague that’s preventing our country from moving forward in education. Americans should want to battle illiteracy because it’s crucial for the future of our nation and its citizens. This fight against illiteracy will not be lost. It’s just up to each and every one of us to make us the victor and illiteracy the loser.

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This article has 3 comments.

jpav7 said...
on Aug. 18 2009 at 12:50 am
The author first presents an eye-opening foundation of facts, but intensifies the call to action by utilizing her own first-hand experiences. The article clearly targets both the reader's mind and heart...a homerun in talent.

EmmyMuse said...
on Aug. 11 2009 at 3:13 pm
This article is at once touching and informative. And it discusses an issue not yet beaten to death, but one that most people simply don't know or think exists. Very compelling work :-)

katieS said...
on Aug. 1 2009 at 1:36 pm
Wow! What an amazing article and a talented young writer!

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