Illiteracy in America: Soaring to New Heights

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.



One thought on “Illiteracy in America: Soaring to New Heights

  1. I don’t understand why ppl just can’t follow simple rules during these uncertain times that we are experiencing not just I nor you but the whole nation. I’m here in New Mexico and mask are required but almost everyone I see waking around aren’t wearing them . Smh 😠 btw I enjoy reading your blog’s


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