In September, I will have spent 50 years in some form of public education: teacher, college professor, principal, superintendent, school board member, and mentor. (Of course, that doesn’t count the additional 16 years I spent as a student.)
As a teacher and a professor, I encountered ONE student among the thousands who was illiterate. Stanley Simmons, a 16-year-old, white kid from Appalachia couldn’t even spell his last name, let alone read. Unfortunately, he committed suicide before I could get him the proper help.
Last summer I spent a wonderful week at the beach in North Carolina. Not as posh as the Outer Banks, Myrtle Beach, or Hilton Head, but lovely. Curiously though, every eating and/or drinking establishment had a sign: NO shirt, NO shoes, NO service. And curiously, no one defied the rule. No one during my week stay made the national news ranting about his/her right not to wear shirts nor shoes. Obviously, the beach goers were literate, and they all graciously showed the bartender their ids when requested.
Yesterday, I ventured to the grocery. The sign on the door read: Mask Required by order of the City of Phoenix and Maricopa County. Though there were only 20 or so shoppers in the store, 5 weren’t wearing a mask. Store managers and cashiers, who work for marginal salaries, choose not to endure the wrath. As I came around the corner to the ice cream aisle, there stood an unmasked, perhaps 25-year-old woman looking for ice cream. My evil side was bubbling; my mouth was about to flap:
“Excuse me, ma’am, I know you can’t read, may I help you find the flavor for which you search? I can read, so there’s no need for a taste test. Strawberry? Rocky Road? Mint Chocolate Chip?”
Of course, I said nothing. I’m not real big on public confrontation, but I know, based on my episode, 25% of the folk in that store couldn’t read. Tragic.
Hmm. Perhaps, illiteracy is trending to the same heights as COVID is. I shall ponder that notion.