Half of you won't understand what these squiggles mean
Hi. I'd like to speak to the approximately 50% of Los Angeles County residents who can read this. Did you guys (and gals) know that the other half of Los Angeles County's 16-years-and-older population might be unable to read these here squiggles?
For those of you who can read English, read this (montereyherald . com/mld/montereyherald/news/9612560.htm):
Los Angeles County has millions of adults who struggle to read and write English - yet only about one in five enrolls in a literacy program and half of them promptly drop out, according to a study released Wednesday.
The survey documented a situation the county has faced for decades: A large population of immigrants struggling to learn a foreign language...
Among the findings:
_ About 3.8 million people 16 or older in the county had "low-literacy" levels, based on 2000 Census data. That included those who, for example, couldn't read a prescription bottle or bus schedule.
_ About 592,000 adults were enrolled in literacy programs between 2002 and 2003. Of those, 50 percent dropped out after three weeks.
_ Two-thirds of the programs offered evening classes. None offered classes on weekends.
_ Los Angeles, Long Beach, Glendale, Pomona and El Monte had the largest populations of people considered "low-literate."
To put those numbers in perspective, here's the census data (quickfacts . census . gov/qfd/states/06/06037.html) for L.A. County. County population in 2000 was 9,519,338 and 28% were under 18 years old. If we assumed that 25% were under 16, and we do the math, that works out to 53% "low-literate." My figure of 50% is close enough.
Note that there may have been some observer bias involved because those who want to provide the services conducted the survey, nevertheless this is probably fairly accurate.
And, this is not exactly good news for democracy or our society. Don't live in Southern California? Just wait, it's coming your way.
This survey is good news for those who want a pool of cheap, exploitable labor and racial demagogues, but it's not good for the rest of us. Perhaps in the interest of the Republic we should slightly raise our qualifications for entry.
UPDATE: The Daily News weighs in with "Illiteracy shockingly high in L.A." (dailynews . com/Stories/0,1413,200~20954~2388909,00.html) The subtitle "Half of workers unable to read" is wrong; the more accurate would be "According to study, half are functionally equivalent (or similar technically-correct phrase)." It contains a few quotes from people who presumably think we can continue to educate the Third World:
"It's an emergency situation," said Mayor James Hahn, adding that poor literacy rates could jeopardize the region's economy by driving out high-tech businesses and other industries that pay well...
And despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent in public schools over the past decade to boost literacy rates, functional illiteracy levels have remained flat because of a steady influx of non-English-speaking immigrants and a 30 percent high school dropout rate, authors of the report said...
"This is a ticking time bomb, a dirty secret we don't want to talk about. We are losing the battle," said Mark Drummond, chancellor of California's community college system...
Note that the Daily News report was written by Rachel Uranga, who six months back penned a happysmiling article about Mexico sending the LAUSD "free" Spanish-language textbooks. I entitled my entry about her report "Mexico joins hands with LAUSD, inserts tentacles". If you want to suggest she ties the two reports together, send a short polite email to firstname.lastname@example.org