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“Functional illiteracy” describes the condition when an individual appears able to make his way in life, yet is actually so deficient in reading and writing that he is essentially illiterate. This is the product of school systems that have done little more than baby-sit many students for twelve years and then turn them loose with no chance of contributing to society and every chance that society will have to support them. The term functional illiteracy really means “illiteracy” and demonstrates the legacy of an educational system which, entrusted with educating our young people, fails them (and the rest of us) miserably.

More than 25 million Americans are illiterate, according to government figures. Another 45 million, at least, are only marginally capable of leading productive lives. These figures include nearly 49 percent of all adult Americans and underscore the general decline in literacy.

Tests by Mr. Hubbard conducted in the late 1970s revealed that college graduates, when examined on common materials they read for pleasure, did not understand much of what they read. While they could pronounce words, they could not define many of the words they pronounced and they did not really comprehend what they were reading. Their ability to learn had been stymied. These findings would not surprise educators in even the better private universities who routinely find students who cannot read with comprehension, regardless of how well they scored on standardized admission tests.


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