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In 1992 this paper mat was on every Arby’s food tray for about one year. The facts appeared to be exaggerated. Could it actually be this bad? Where did they get the numbers?

The illiteracy count has worsened vastly since 1992. The US now ranks 51st in literacy among all United Nations member countries, down 20 places since 1950.

Illiteracy costs us heavily, both personally and as a society. There’s a direct link between illiteracy and crime, for example. Sixty-percent of the inmates in prison cannot write a letter to their lawyer. Eighty-five percent of all juvenile offenders have serious reading deficiencies.

At the family level, illiteracy contributes to unemployment and personal insecurity. Seventy-five percent of the unemployed cannot read or qualify for today’s high tech industries. It’s difficult for anyone to read a computer manual, but for the illiterate, even a price tag is a challenge.

In 1996 twenty-seven million Americans could not read but each year the number increased by about 2,410,000 people. Reason: Each year we add one million high school dropouts or pushouts. Another 1.2 million are documented and undocumented aliens (each year). Another 100,000 refugees come to the US each year. Many cannot read their native language such as Spanish.

The paper mat above promoted Literacy Volunteers of America, encouraging volunteers to assist in teaching someone to read.

These statistics are summarized from “Adult Illiteracy in the United States” by Hunter and Harman, McGraw-Hill, NY.

Whereas we thought there were six million non-reading aliens in the US in 2005, upon review of the unchecked border traffic, we find in 2007 that there are closer to 36 million non-reading aliens, enabling us to say that less than one person in three on average can read the English language in the United States. (Based on Television news, May, 2006)

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