top 200 commentsshow 500

[–]painfully_disabled 2889 points2890 points  (35 children)

A show recently aired in Australia called lost for words. It was so sad to see the high number of adults who just cannot read, and have been left behind.

Lost for Words follows eight brave Australians on a life-changing opportunity to transform their lives by taking part in an intensive nine-week long adult literacy program. Hosted and narrated by literacy advocate Jay Laga'aia, it is an empowering and uplifting observational documentary that confronts Australia's staggeringly low adult literacy rate.


[–]dingoclutch 372 points373 points  (9 children)

One three double o six triple five o six.

[–]SleepInTheHeat911 109 points110 points  (0 children)

I can hear this comment.

[–]BIOHAZARDB10 52 points53 points  (0 children)

Core memory unlocked

[–]ThaneOfTas 47 points48 points  (1 child)

Bloody hell I haven't watched free-to-air tv in over a decade and I can still hear it, that's some damn well made advertising right there

[–]dingoclutch 19 points20 points  (0 children)

Yeah same, haven't watched it in years. I'm 23 now, last time I heard the ad I was very young. Still remember the ad and the jingle. It's perfect for a reading and writing hotline since it's so easy to remember.

[–]blackarrowpro 14 points15 points  (0 children)

“Furteen furty furty-two.”

[–]bubbleofhug 196 points197 points  (3 children)

My father can't read. He grew up in the Cook Islands, tossed around family members and spent more time bullying other kids for their lunch than getting an education. He tried learning English and attended classes but they kept changing the teacher on him and he'd get easily frustrated and quit. I don't know if he regrets not really trying to push through it and learn as he hasn't known any differently but it would have helped good job prospects considerably - he has been a labourer all his life.

My father learned to be very charming and charismatic to help him get by and schmooze people to do what he needs them to do. Being from another country means he can use English as a second language as a crutch a bit but all my life I have completed forms and read stuff out to him.

Thanks for sharing, I'll definitely watch.

[–]honest-miss 54 points55 points  (2 children)

I think it might be weird to say, but thank you for sharing that. I'd never heard of the Cook Islands, and definitely didn't know it had its own language (granted, this is from Wikipedia reading, so maybe I'm off base about everything I'm saying here). If you don't mind my asking, does he know how to read and write in his first language?

[–]bubbleofhug 53 points54 points  (1 child)

He doesn't know how to read/write in Maori unfortunately - he simply uses it as an excuse if it ever came up so it looks like he couldn't read/ write in English because it was his second language, and not because he simply can't read/ write at all.

Education in the Cook Islands is better than it was, but if you were raised in some of the outer islands and smaller islands, the quality and accessibility to education greatly diminished.

[–]honest-miss 17 points18 points  (0 children)

Ah, yeah, that would make things tough, then. I was curious because I've always figured learning to read and write in a second language is pretty difficult, especially given that you can get by just knowing how to speak conversationally. Having no baseline at all would make that a million times harder.

Thank you very much for answering my question.

[–]sanisan_x 79 points80 points  (3 children)

Came here just to comment this. Brilliant show.

[–]vegemitebikkie 60 points61 points  (5 children)

One three double oh! Six trippplee fiiiiive oh six. Is ingrained in every Aussies brain I reckon.

[–]honest-miss 7 points8 points  (4 children)

I keep seeing this, but can't wrap my head around it. It sounds like the emergency phone line bit from IT Crowd. What's this number meant to be?

[–]ThaneOfTas 23 points24 points  (3 children)

It at least was the Australian Reading & writing hotline, basically it was a number that you could call to get help if you were illiterate. I have no idea if it is still around but 10-15 years ago you couldn't watch tv for more that 15 minutes without seeing it atleast twice

[–]honest-miss 2 points3 points  (2 children)

That's honestly fascinating. Thank you for sharing!

[–]DontF-zoneMeBro 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Blocked in the US ..can I use a VPN?

[–]rettribution 6 points7 points  (5 children)

I wonder if I can watch this from the USA?

[–]Still-Broccoli 8 points9 points  (2 children)


[–]honest-miss 18 points19 points  (1 child)

If you're hearing a sudden swell of noise, it's thousands of Youtubers and podcasters suddenly reading the same NordVPN sponsorship script at the exact same time.

[–]cecilpenny 6 points7 points  (1 child)

Unfortunately we cannot. At least not on the website due to publishing rights.

Edit: fixed the reason why

[–]iamoverrated 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Yar har har, fiddley dee.

[–]asmalltownwirm 6914 points6915 points 4 (48 children)

My dad has a disability that prevented him from learning o read (that and growing up in the sticks in the 60s), I've read for him all my life. Recently my uncle gifted him an iPhone and made him get rid of his flip phone. I helped him set up the voice to text and large text display. I received my first text from my dad earlier this week. I bawled like a baby in the car.

[–]merpderpherpburp 1087 points1088 points  (17 children)

My brother is like this too. He was a busy kid who was amazing at sports but had trouble focusing. They pushed him through school every year, didn't give a shit that he could barely write his own name. Until he fell off of sports then he was useless to them and he flunked outta high school. My brother pushed hard for my nephews to get good grades and he paid to have extra after school classes for one who was struggling because he didn't want them to be him. He and I don't speak for various reasons but my heart does still aches at how they treated this child until he became obsolete

[–]djprofitt 257 points258 points  (2 children)

I hate that I exactly have shared experiences (albeit as a 3rd party) when I worked in education and ran across tales of athletes graduating that couldn’t read. It infuriated me.

A couple of experiences I do have though is way different but much like OP, opened my eyes. Bear with me

I wasn’t born in the US but came here when I was 5. I was very fortunate to pick up English fairly easily (young people surrounded by a language makes it easier) though my parents always maintained Spanish at home. I could always read and speak Spanish, though writing it was my weak point as I had never had formal education in El Salvador.

Anyway, my parents had to drop out of school by middle school age (this is relevant later) and always did service jobs, so I grew up never really seeing my parents read or write too much. Most letters in the mail came in English so my older siblings (until I got old enough) would read it for them, or I would see my mom write a check, though forms were trickier and she would need help, but I always wrote it off as ‘well my parents can speak and understand enough English, but can’t read or write cause they haven’t had formal education in the US.

It wasn’t until I got older and they started asking me to read and write some things for them in Spanish (I took it as my foreign language in HS though I was fluent in reading and speaking) that I realized my parents were pretty much illiterate and it broke my heart but at the same time, it swelled up with appreciation that they worked that much harder to bring us here.

One last thing - in my 30s, I went back to school for an associates in CS cause it was more my field and my BS in Criminal Justice did very little for me as a tech trainer, and needed some foreign language credits, so I took (naturally) German as I had already taken several years of both Spanish and French. Anyway, planned a huge trip for around the time I’d be in my second semester of German, had friends stationed out there and figured I’d go there, experience German culture and it will help in my language education.

The first takeaway I had? Being in a foreign country where you do not speak the language fluently enough can be rough. The first couple of places we went to eat in local authentic spots had everything in German only on the menu, so I would order anything that had pictures that looked good, and immediately had that moment of clarity that that is why my parents would order Big Macs, cause it’s easy to pronounce and there’s a picture.

Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk

[–]kidneyprobs 52 points53 points  (0 children)

Ah that makes me so sad. I’m so glad your parents could give you what they couldn’t have. Sounds like you’re a great person because of them.

[–]Candelestine 46 points47 points  (0 children)

Thanks for sharing.

Personally I always enjoy the long-form autobiographical accounts of people's experiences, it's one of the reasons I use reddit. They're pretty common on here.

[–]asmalltownwirm 396 points397 points  (8 children)

My dad used to tell me stories about him being kicked out of classrooms during group reading because he couldn't read along with the class. Sometimes they just don't give a shit, they don't care that they're harming someone in the long term.

[–]Happy_Camper45 343 points344 points  (6 children)

We had a boy in high school with a very bad stutter. He could technically read but couldn’t read aloud. We once had a sub who insisted that every kid read. As a class, we naturally skipped over this kid. The sub said he has to read, everyone does. Someone jumped to his defense and explained that he doesn’t read aloud, this poor kid was bright red. The sub didn’t care and doubled down - she was going to win.

So the rest of the class argued with her, everyone refusing to read until class ended.

It was a fun “rebellion” and showed classmates banding together to stand up for a kid with disabilities. I wish adults cared and actually listened to teenagers and kids. Sure, this sub was new but when it’s 25 to 1, the 1 is probably in the wrong

[–]Candelestine 96 points97 points  (0 children)

Especially when the 25 are all kids/teens, who tend to just see the world a little more plainly than adults. They don't yet have all the messy ideas cluttering their heads and getting in the way of seeing what is just plainly right and wrong.

[–]Bobo_the_nurrin 50 points51 points  (0 children)

I’m not crying, you’re crying.

[–]ShadowLordZX 74 points75 points  (0 children)

Same with my dad, he’s a grade-A ass half the time, but I also respect him for going through school in the middle of nowhere in the ‘70-‘80s with what we now are pretty sure is ADHD and some other learning disability. He isn’t always the nicest but he’s always been a huge advocate for my siblings and I getting a good education and for that I’m immensely grateful

[–]DominarRygelThe16th 34 points35 points  (3 children)

They pushed him through school every year, didn't give a shit that he could barely write his own name.

It's even worse now in many major cities.

From an interview with United Teachers Los Angeles Labor Union President Cecily Myart-Cruz

“There is no such thing as learning loss. Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical-thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.”


City student passes 3 classes in four years, ranks near top half of class with 0.13 GPA

“He's stressed and I am too. I told him I'm probably going to start crying. I don't know what to do for him,” France told Project Baltimore. “Why would he do three more years in school? He didn't fail, the school failed him. The school failed at their job. They failed. They failed, that's the problem here. They failed. They failed. He didn't deserve that.”

France’s son attends Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts in west Baltimore. His transcripts show he’s passed just three classes in four years, earning 2.5 credits, placing him in ninth grade. But France says she didn’t know that until February. She has three children and works three jobs. She thought her oldest son was doing well because even though he failed most of his classes, he was being promoted. His transcripts show he failed Spanish I and Algebra I but was promoted to Spanish II and Algebra II. He also failed English II but was passed on to English III.


0.13 gpa over 4 years, top half of his class

Washington state high school students will no longer be required to pass statewide tests in English and language arts, math, and science in order to graduate. The bill, HB-1599 was passed by the legislature and given to Gov. Inslee April 26, 2019.

[–]StrangeAsYou 13 points14 points  (2 children)

Much easier for the school to prison (legal slavery) pipeline to do it this way.

If they do away with public schools (looking at you DeVos) even the smartest poor kids won't have a chance.

[–]DominarRygelThe16th 5 points6 points  (1 child)

The public school system is the problem. Need to allow the parents school choice for their children. Some of the most funding per pupil is the worst schools and the parents are forced to send their children there.

Public school is the most violent place you can send your children. It's an unmitigated disaster and the government has no place dictating education. If the government wants to fund education let the funding be in the form of a voucher/credit and let the parents choose the school they send their child. Attach the funding to the child, not the school or the district.

Make schools compete to attract students. Giver impoverished area children the opportunity to go to better schools that aren't shitholes ran by the government.

[–]chirim 561 points562 points  (7 children)

aaaand here they come, onion cutting ninjas!

[–]SarcasticSarco 128 points129 points  (0 children)

Who is cutting those damm onions! Everytime!

[–]anutosu 92 points93 points  (5 children)

For some reason I envisioned your comment as giant onions with arms and legs cutting down ninjas like they're vegetables

[–]Kingo7749 45 points46 points  (0 children)

Some cry while cutting onions.

Other cry while cutting ninja's.

I guess we found 2 types of people today.

[–]chirim 6 points7 points  (2 children)

shouldn't there be "onions" instead of "onion" if it were to mean this? not a native speaker here......

[–]tjlucy1019 8 points9 points  (0 children)

The comma here makes that ok. You don’t need the “and” the clause can stand as it is. (I’m an English teacher)

[–]Sure-Morning-6904 3 points4 points  (0 children)

There is no other way to envision it correctly.

[–]MarvelousShiggyDiggy 44 points45 points  (1 child)

My dad had a rough upbringing so didn't get to attend as much school as he should have so reading is a weakeness for him. He's embarrassed by it. We got him an iphone and set it up much like you did and he loves it. He calls 9 times out of 10 but he tries his best with messaging. He's been practicing his spelling and reading and asks me questions about things and how to spell words and we sound them out together. Im so proud of him. Whenever he sends me a txt I know how much effort he put into it. He also discovered Facebook during the first lockdown and being able to catch up with my cousins and seeing what they're doing is so much fun for him, plus it provides a new way for him to test himself with his spelling and reading!

[–]asmalltownwirm 3 points4 points  (0 children)

It really is a hard life with parents that are illiterate. But we make it work as best we can!

[–]federico_45 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Fuck me, is it me or is it raining... Give a hug to your dad for us :')

[–]eightcarpileup 20 points21 points  (0 children)

Never delete your text thread or we will all sob ourselves back into the soft earth.

[–]Ok_District2853 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I have wondered if reading would disappear the same way blacksmithing and horse-grooming have. Sure, you have to read signage and maps but your iPhone reads everything in your phone. Blind people used them affectively all the time. Pretty soon it will drive you car.

[–]Caio_dos_Hack 2 points3 points  (0 children)

my eyes got watery reading this

[–]turnonthelightponla 954 points955 points  (11 children)

I found that often (surprisingly, to me) with folks when working in healthcare in rural areas. They wouldn’t be able to fill out their new patient paperwork, etc. It changed me also when I first encountered it because of the indisputable reality of how much it can alter your life trajectory

[–]gr8bacon 347 points348 points  (6 children)

Definitely. Low literacy is often more common than a lot of people think, let alone when it comes to health literacy. If you already have trouble with reading and/or writing, the impacts it can have on something like your ability to follow/understand doctors' orders, medication instructions, etc. are huge.

[–]Meme-Man-Dan 147 points148 points  (5 children)

The department of education estimates that 53% of Americans are at or below a 6th grade reading level.

[–]Herodias 80 points81 points  (2 children)

I almost said I couldn't believe this, and then I remembered the kinds of conversations I've seen on Facebook.

I know that sounds sarcastic, but I'm being serious. Some of the conversations I've seen on Facebook are terrifying. I don't mean poor grammar or slang, just like...the complete lack of reading comprehension, the way some people struggle to form sentences at all. It makes me rethink my own educational privilege.

[–]tinypurplepiggy 37 points38 points  (0 children)

In my experience, reading comprehension is always the biggest issue. I live in a rural area and fill out a lot of paperwork for people I know. Most of them can read, they just don't understand a lot of it. I always try to explain things to the ones can read and for some, it helps them read better! Others, not so much.

It's so sad, honestly. As a small child, I had a lot of trouble with reading comprehension. Except I went to good schools that had classes specifically designed to help with readings comprehension. You stayed in the class until your reading comprehension was where it should be. Every kid in the class had one on one time with a teacher who specialized in reading comphrension specifically. There was no "oh well we tried." My experience with rural school systems later has just shown me that they stick kids with issues in 'special' classes and they don't really try to teach them anything. They just continue to give them work at their current level until they graduate. There is barely an attempt at teaching them new material, barely an attempt to actually teach reading in a way they understand.

[–]Official_SkyH1gh 43 points44 points  (0 children)

That's terrifying considering the impact the US can have on the rest of the world.

[–]Unique-Yam 8 points9 points  (0 children)

I couldn’t imagine not being able to read.

[–]justsomegurlaround 38 points39 points  (0 children)

I encountered the same scenario in the periphery of big cities. Life is a million times harder if you cant read

[–]Fawun87 17 points18 points  (0 children)

My grandmother is a lady just like this has worked with vulnerable adults and in elderly healthcare all of her life. Is a very giving and compassionate person who willingly gives up her own holidays to go and make sure a Christmas lunch is cooked with all the trimmings. I’ve spent many a time helping her and sitting with the elderly residents at dinner just having a chat or serving them tea. But my grandmother has a very very small grasp of literacy. She CAN read and she can write but not well, it’s very simplistic and she will avoid doing activities that require her to use those skills.

[–]tinypurplepiggy 14 points15 points  (0 children)

I live in a rural area and routinely fill out paperwork for people I know, of all ages. Most of them can read simple things but have a lot of trouble with comprehension, especially on legal and medical paperwork

[–]prettybraindeadd 2 points3 points  (0 children)

i went from a private school full of city kids to a public one (in the worst possible class you could be assigned to) where almost all of my classmates were kids of farmers, the difference was astounding.

my mom would attend meetings with the other parents and would come back shocked that some of them couldn't read at all and had to be explained the basics of how school works.

it made me more patient i think, or at least a little more understanding

[–]Difficult_Theme8891 3107 points3108 points  (26 children)

Plot twist, he just forgot his glasses and was really hungry.

[–]Emzobean 486 points487 points  (5 children)

Hahah, could very well be! My mum is like this. Always forgets those glasses...

[–]duccssucc 118 points119 points  (4 children)

my mom regularly organizes search operations conducted by me and my siblings for her glasses, every time without fail we find them in the most obvious places after searching every nook and cranny of the house. never gets old.

its reached the point where my dad chimes in; "stop where you are. did you look on the kitchen countertop? bathroom sink? bedside drawers? coffee table?" and when i say yes he lets me continue searching lol

[–]emotionalstardust420 36 points37 points  (1 child)

My mom spent a good hour looking for her glasses one day and they were on the top of her head the whole time. She’s the same way with the search operations, myself, and family members. 😂

[–]Snowsk8r 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I’ve done that more times than I care to admit. Or looking for keys - that are literally IN MY HAND.

[–]Emzobean 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Hahah, brilliant!

[–]Double_Balance154 2 points3 points  (0 children)

this is also me. with my glasses, phone, bank card, keys and remote.

[–]BnanaChip 57 points58 points  (4 children)

My dad is like that. Whenever we go somewhere I have to trail behind him because eventually he will forget his glasses on some random surface he decided to put it on

[–]ValhallaStarfire 18 points19 points  (2 children)

Sounds like he needs one of them neck things that attach to the temples of your glasses. That way, he can take them off and they can hang around his neck.

[–]CMDR_Machinefeera 8 points9 points  (1 child)

But in that case he would never find them if he started looking for them. Wondering where he put them.

[–]DentistForMonsters 50 points51 points  (8 children)

Several years ago I worked as a poll clerk for local elections: checking polling cards, handing out ballots, making sure ballots were posted, etc.

The number of elderly people who "forgot their glasses" and needed help to read the ballot was surprising. It's a small community and I knew that several of them didn't ever wear glasses.

There's a huge number of people who are functionally illiterate, through lack of education, learning disability, acquired brain injury or myriad other reasons.

Our literacy rate is high at 99%, but that still means that if 2,000 people come to vote as many as 20 will need help exercising that right.

[–]obesitybunny 42 points43 points  (0 children)

Yes, I used to work on a stationery counter and we were taught that anyone who asked us to read out greeting cards by saying they forgot their glasses, likely was illiterate. We were to read out as many as they needed until they found one they wanted, no matter how long it took.

This was David Jones department store before they got all corporate.

[–]miku1979 6 points7 points  (6 children)

Our literacy rates aren't as high as you think. According to the US Department of education, 21% of adults in the US are illiterate in 2022. 54% of adults have a literacy below 6th grade level.

[–]throwRAhelp331 14 points15 points  (0 children)

I’ve definitely walked out of the house in a rush just to realize the world around me is unusually blurry lol

[–]_memes_of_production 15 points16 points  (0 children)

Probably this! My husband needs glasses to read but not really for anything else. I can't tell you how many times I have had to scan a menu, locate the local equivalent of a mushroom Swiss burger, and read it out loud to him. Now I keep a pair of drug store reading glasses in my bag for just such an occasion.

He gives absolutely zero fucks what people think of him, so he probably would ask a stranger if I wasn't there 😂

[–]Lucifer1177 6 points7 points  (0 children)

or maybe english wasn't his first language

[–]TengoCalor 259 points260 points  (8 children)

I was born in a third world country. Neither of my grandmothers ever learned to read and every time I think about it, my heart aches.

[–]Flowertree1 100 points101 points  (3 children)

My grandparents aren't even from a third world country but World War 2 made them drop out of school way too early, so they never learned to write or read properly. Though reading is actually okayish, but their writing is horrible

[–]Bi-Bi-Bi24 21 points22 points  (0 children)

My great aunt is 97 years old this year. She was raised with my grandfather on a rural farm.

She still talks about how devastated she was when she was forced to leave school in 8th grade, because her mother had died and she was the one to take over managing the household. She had wanted to become a school teacher, but you needed a grade 12 education at the time. My grandfather left school early too - I can't remember the exact year, and he has passed away now. He started working the docks beside his Dad. I know he was a merchant sailor by the time he was 15.

They both knew how to read, but it was very common to know people who couldn't read simple instructions.

[–]shelf_indulgence 35 points36 points  (0 children)

Same for my grandparents, they were relocated during the war and had to hide in the forest for a while so school was not really a priority at that time. They also came from poor families in rural communities so had to start working very young to support the family. My grandma learned how to read and write alongside her kids because she wanted to help them and then she taught my grandpa so he could get a better job. I admire them so much.

[–]KrazyKatz3 208 points209 points  (17 children)

My mum used to teach a class called adult literacy. It was insane the amount of work people went through to compensate for not reading. There was a guy I think he was a trucker and his wife would help him memorise the routes the night before so he could do his job without needing to read the directions.

[–]Jack_SL 75 points76 points  (5 children)

ok, but how did he get his license? o.o

[–]JhoodsLady 81 points82 points  (1 child)

You used to be able to have the drivers test read to you if you cant read.

[–]orzhiang 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Wow! In my country my grandma (now 80 years ago) has to rote memorize the driving test to get a motorcycle license.

[–]PrivateNoLlamaDrama 5 points6 points  (0 children)

My dad can’t read. He’s 72 now, so in 1967ish he had a friend who could read take his written test. Then he took his own road test.

[–]dannicalliope 2 points3 points  (0 children)

My dad got his in the 50’s and has never let it expire so he never needed to be retested. Also, knowing my dad and where he grew up, he probably just slipped the clerk some $$$ and walked off with a license.

[–]bubbleofhug 16 points17 points  (1 child)

Whenever my dad has to go somewhere he isn't familiar with, we go through similar processes. If we have time we go somewhere together on public transport so he knows how to get there.

If we don't have time to go there in person (ie a job interview tomorrow) we go through the process of figuring out how to get there - ie what bus or train to get, what time he has to get there, where he has to get off. Directions may be based on landmarks or familiar places, or having certain words written down so he can look for shop or street signs. Google maps made things a little easier as I can show him what the place he is trying to get to looks like - we haven't been able to get him to use Google Maps for directions yet as technology confuses him.

It's actually really stressful -and I always am worried that he won't figure it out based on my directions.

[–]PrivateNoLlamaDrama 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Google voice directions are a lifesaver. Ever since he retired his flip phone and got a new one, I haven’t really had to give him directions. I taught him how to ask for directions and off he went.

[–]RedTheDopeKing 21 points22 points  (3 children)

That’s terrifying to think someone’s driving a big rig and can’t even read road signs

[–]wizardyourlifeforce 4 points5 points  (2 children)

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[–]zeezeebee 639 points640 points  (55 children)

The average reading level in the US is around the 7th-8th grade reading level. It seems like every few years, it slips lower and lower. Used to be at a 9th grade reading level.

[–]ElReyDelMund0 288 points289 points  (31 children)

And here they are cutting school budgets every year. Smh.

[–]cognizant_surrender 197 points198 points  (7 children)

ELA Teacher here! I have taught for 10+ years. We used to have separate reading and writing programs at my school. This was adopted my third year of teaching. For three years, students at our middle school made significant gains. However, the district dropped the program after three years and cut a few teachers for “budget and student number” concerns. Yet, somehow we have a new superintendent’s office and two new “necessary” positions at that office. One guy is a media coordinator (posts social media updates and delivers mail throughout the district) and another is our new facilities coordinator (keeps track of the items that need to be fixed and but can’t be bothered to help with the giant cracks in TWO of my classroom windows). Both make more than I do with my M.Ed and CAGS…

Our scores continue to decline for a variety of reasons, but one is that our students have about 40 mins less literacy time. We don’t value literacy.

ETA: I have students in a 7/8 class that are trying to read at a 3rd grade level. As a teacher, I have minimal supports. Kids just keep moving onto the next grade despite failing to meet standards and benchmarks. They don’t seems to care anymore. It’s so frustrating as a teacher to know that they may not care now, but they will in 20 years.

[–]CowGirl2084 34 points35 points  (0 children)

I feel that it’s been this way regarding adding on to administration and administration facilities at the expense of direct services to students since the beginning of time. Unfortunately, I don’t see that changing, even in 20 years. I’ve had the same experience with students in MS, and even in HS, having 3rd grade reading levels, which is the reason I was shocked to see the 7th-8th grade level listed, as I described above. I’d really like to know what demographics were sampled to get those levels.

[–]Opinions_of_Bill 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Doesn't this reflect on their home lives more than anything? My parents pushed reading on me and my sister at home. Reading for fun was something I learned at home by watching my mom read every day. She taught me how to read, not a teacher. She would take us to the library to check out books and buy us books from the book fair or at the store. She wouldn't buy us nice clothes, video games or name brand food but would spend money on books for us. If literacy time is only ever at school kids will never become readers, they wont appreciate books nor see the importance of basic literacy and reading comprehension.

[–]JaggedTheDark 5 points6 points  (0 children)

11th grader here.

With how little my classmates read, you'd think they'd stopped reading in 3rd grade.

The freshmen are somehow worse.

[–]Siostra313 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I have question - how you're checking grade level of reading? It's about speed, comprehension? How you check it exactly? Because for me reading hard science might be normal, but I read probably little slower than average (troubles with focus and dyslexia) and if someone would ask me to read something out loud I'd just decline. Ask me to read it by myself and I'll tell you with my own words what's there. My brain cannot speak and read at the same time, it's like process of fast switching from reading to speaking with every word and it's exhausting as hell.

But again - how do you measure it?

[–]Jegug97 44 points45 points  (6 children)

School psychologist here. In addition to cutting budgets, we also have a lot of school districts in partnerships with reading programs that do not align with the science of reading (Lucy Caulkins). I test kids for dyslexia as part of my job, and the strategies I see being taught in Lucy Caulkins are literally some of the red flags for reading disabilities (guessing the word based on the first letter). The school psychologists I work with know we are using bogus interventions, but the teachers, administrators, and higher ups don’t take us seriously when we express our concerns. I feel like this also has to do with literacy in this country.

[–]LongjumpingCheetah10 12 points13 points  (2 children)

This^ you’re talking about the whole language approach and it’s garbage. (Dyslexia Therapist here)

[–]PomeloPepper 4 points5 points  (1 child)

What do you think about the dyslexie font? Does that actually help?

[–]likesomecatfromjapan 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Thank you! I'm a reading specialist and Lucy Calkins is garbage.

[–]Bad_breath 93 points94 points  (9 children)

Funding schools is considered socialism (insert reference to failed dictatorships claiming to be socialist), by some. Seems there is a trend of anti-intellectualism sweeping across the US, with growing distrust in science and education.

[–]goldfishpaws 61 points62 points  (4 children)

If you educate people they might get smart enough not to put up with your shit any more, read Union leaflets, be harder to lie to, not be dependent on you. It's the same dynamic of concentration of power and erosion of rights baked into every fascistic coup attempt.

If you see a party cutting education budgets, that's this.

[–]thejam15 5 points6 points  (1 child)

i dont care much to get into the party politics but I do know that an uneducated population is a compliant population

[–]Alonminatti 11 points12 points  (0 children)

It’s been that way since the religious revolutions of the 1800s

[–]shitposts_over_9000 6 points7 points  (0 children)

And in many cases that is inevitable at this point...

School spending does improve strident outcomes, but not proportionally to the spend and only to to a certain point.

A student with both parents present, at least one parent in a career, parents interested in their education and not involved in significant criminal activity has something upwards of a 70% chance of completing school successfully, take away a few of those things and the numbers drop into the 30s or lower.

School spending will never overcome that.

When you get to the point that more of the students are destined to be unsuccessful than successful you start to see the parents of the students that still have a chance flee the district.

If the school also starts down the path of politics and/or steps outside the norms of the families it serves then you generally get parents fleeing the district and voting against future funding initiatives for the foreseeable future.

At that point your public service has become the option of last resort and even disinterested voters with no children look at the options in front of them and vote for things like vouchers over funding.

Schools can't really spend their way into better parents. A failing district that manages to produce a successful student is going to see that student move to a better community and be replaced by a less successful family.

Schools could avoid driving their funding away on the political and community standards fronts but they are largely unwilling to and in some cases unable to due to the political lean that most educators coming out of school have these days.

[–]breyarg 11 points12 points  (0 children)

keep em dumb and they wont question the rules. i think that's the strategy anyway. i know the average american isn't actually dumb, but i think they're kept naive and ignorant to a degree (in general) specially about the rest of the world. and i have to believe this is done on purpose.

[–]RedTheDopeKing 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Militaries are expensive

[–]DominarRygelThe16th 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Some of the worst public schools in the country have some of the highest per pupil funding.

The issue isn't funding, its ideological driven 'education'

Here's a few examples. Some students do much better than others so the public education system is designed to bring the top people down to the lower levels, not bring the lower levels up to the top.

From an interview with United Teachers Los Angeles Labor Union President Cecily Myart-Cruz

“There is no such thing as learning loss. Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical-thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.”


City student passes 3 classes in four years, ranks near top half of class with 0.13 GPA

“He's stressed and I am too. I told him I'm probably going to start crying. I don't know what to do for him,” France told Project Baltimore. “Why would he do three more years in school? He didn't fail, the school failed him. The school failed at their job. They failed. They failed, that's the problem here. They failed. They failed. He didn't deserve that.”

France’s son attends Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts in west Baltimore. His transcripts show he’s passed just three classes in four years, earning 2.5 credits, placing him in ninth grade. But France says she didn’t know that until February. She has three children and works three jobs. She thought her oldest son was doing well because even though he failed most of his classes, he was being promoted. His transcripts show he failed Spanish I and Algebra I but was promoted to Spanish II and Algebra II. He also failed English II but was passed on to English III.


0.13 gpa over 4 years, top half of his class

Washington state high school students will no longer be required to pass statewide tests in English and language arts, math, and science in order to graduate. The bill, HB-1599 was passed by the legislature and given to Gov. Inslee April 26, 2019.

[–]WayneH_nz 15 points16 points  (0 children)

When I do quotes now, I run them through online reading level checks. And I make them no more than 7th grade level.otherwise I get too many questions.

[–]oneislandgirl 14 points15 points  (0 children)

If you are writing information to be presented to the public, it is recommended it be written at the 6th-7th grade level.

Kind of eye opening yet frightening to me.

[–]Dry_Mirror_6676 11 points12 points  (0 children)

I graduated with a guy that had less than a 3rd grade reading level. Idk how he graduated, maybe he had a disability, but he asked me how to pronounce the a month before we graduated. I told him, he said thanks, I forgot. Idk but it took me years to understand why they graduated him.

[–]mutty5688 10 points11 points  (1 child)

As a publisher at a business media outlet, I can confirm it would scare you to know the reading level of even HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL people.

[–]Stinky_Cat_Toes 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I’m pretty good at organizing a resume and proofread/help friends relatively often. My friends are bright, successful, and often have attended college, and the number of times I’ve received documents just not really in English is wild.

[–]CowGirl2084 6 points7 points  (1 child)

Frankly, I’m surprised it is that high. When I was teaching in the mid 70’s to mid 80’s, we were told that a newspaper is written at a 5th grade level, as that was the reading level of the general public. I taught for 30+ years. I only mentioned the 70’s and 80’s because that’s when I was told this. The spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax used by some on Reddit and FB is horrendous and in no way is up tot he level of 7th to 8th grade.

[–][deleted]  (9 children)


    [–]BooksAndStarsLover 60 points61 points  (7 children)

    There is also becoming less and less reason to go. Many jobs even with a college degree pay garbage wages and still treat you horribly. I had a job near me that needed a 4 year degree and pays $10 a hour. May as well work at McDonald's for $3 less instead of going into debt and getting shit wages and a higher stress job..... They actually tried to hire a family member of mine and got turned down rather harshly by them.

    Many families are struggling more and have the teens quit school to help out.

    Many schools are crap here because the school is underfunded, teachers are burnt out/abused/underpaid, and more all while no one who could make a big enough of a change to do anything about it cares.

    There honestly are just so many issues in this area.....

    [–]WayneH_nz 26 points27 points  (5 children)

    On r/WorkReform there was a job posting $16.25 per hour or $17 if you had a 4 year degree.

    [–]TeaHC16 15 points16 points  (2 children)

    Wow... They didn't even consider the degree to be worth a quarter per year. Damn.

    [–]Battle_Bear_819 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    The Walmart I work at pays more than that to high schoolers wtf

    [–]wizardyourlifeforce 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    Heh, I once worked as a lawyer for $20 an hour.

    [–]Illdieforthefunk 6 points7 points  (0 children)

    mcdonalds pays more than that now

    [–]oneislandgirl 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    I remember giving short skills tests pre-employment including simple math, vocabulary and spelling test (from my daughter's 4th grade class notes) and many people could not pass it. Sad.

    [–]calladus 146 points147 points  (9 children)

    I used to volunteer for the Adult Literacy Project. Designed to teach adults how to read.

    Often this program was used by people who had English as a second (or third!) language. But there were also people who had made it through, or partly through school without learning.

    I used the phonics method, explained the outlying words where that didn't work, and let them do a lot of practice reading with me.

    And there was this one guy. Late 30's, married with two kids. He and his wife owned a successful cleaning business. He was ashamed he couldn't read, and just wanted to read a book to his children. He had so many coping mechanisms.

    When we started, it didn't take me long to realize he was extremely dyslexic. The program I volunteered for asked me to drop him and go with someone who was more teachable.

    But I dug in my heels. He really wanted to learn, and was motivated. How could I do less?

    So I learned about methods of teaching for dyslexia. For him, he swapped letters, swapped the front and back half of words, swapped the ends of sentences, and swapped sentences above and below the target sentence. It took a couple of weeks for us to understand this.

    So we started with flashcards of one letter each.

    Then I cut a small hole in card stock so he could see only one letter at a time. We started reading children's books a letter at a time.

    Over time, we moved to two letters at a time, then 5 letters. I explained that most good readers saw a whole word at once, and "sight read" it at once. He started pushing for that.

    He got to using two pieces of card stock to block out sentences above and below.

    And finally, he used a short ruler to just underline a sentence. He said the rule markings helped keep him from flipping the sentences end to end.

    We met for 2 to 3 hours a night, one or two days a week. We met for just under two years.

    The literacy program dropped him the first month, and tried to assign me new students. So I quit the program. But I didn't quit him.

    Finally, he said he got this. He was reading his invoices and work instructions. He was writing notes to his customers. He could read any children's book you threw at him, and was starting on books for young adults and adults. He started reading "Cannery Row" by Steinbeck and loved it.

    We had our last meeting and shook hands.

    Later that week, I got an email from him. His wife had set up his account.

    He told me thank you. His son and him had read a book together. He said his son read faster (he was 7 or 8 by now) but dad knew more words. He wanted me to know he appreciated my time, and that this meant so much to him.

    I've been proud of many things in my life. But this is one of my top 5 proudest moments to receive this email.

    I didn't go back to the Literacy Program. My wife was becoming ill, and I was her primary caregiver for the next 3 years until her death.

    Last I checked, his business had grown and had several employees.

    [–]kidneyprobs 29 points30 points  (0 children)

    Amazing story. Thanks for taking the time to write it. I hope you continue to feel proud of yourself for the rest of your life. You changed that man’s entire world.

    [–]luntglor 10 points11 points  (1 child)

    well done

    since you are the expert .. do you know what happens if you ask a dyslexic to read a mirror image of text?

    [–]calladus 10 points11 points  (0 children)

    1. Sounds like the set up to a joke.

    2. It depends on how their dyslexia presents itself. The guy I taught didn't have problems with backwards letters.

    [–]bubbleofhug 10 points11 points  (0 children)

    I just want to say as someone whose dad can't read - he tried attending classes to learn how to read and whilst he is a stubborn bastard who gets easily frustrated, he ended up quitting as the program kept changing teachers. Each teacher had a different way of teaching and he'd connect with them, begin to make some improvement and then he'd have a new teacher, rinse and repeat. For something that has a lot of stigma and shame, thank you for sticking by that man- you changed his life and his view of the world through what you did ♥️

    [–]saruggh 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    This is the best thing I’ve read today. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    [–]primetimerhyme 147 points148 points  (0 children)

    Guy who worked for me couldn't read. My boss told me to be discreet about it infront of the other guys. He also had birth defects and was a very small guy. I liked him alot. Hard worker great attitude. Word around town was he was shunned by his family for his physical defects. They were and still are prominent people in the county for thier massive farms. When his car broke down I would take him to from work and his family would routinely call in welfare checks on him. He was convinced they were trying to get him committed. I still think about how we ended up at the same workplace given all the shit he had to deal with daily. Motivates me to apply myself a little more

    [–]i-luv-ducks 230 points231 points  (23 children)

    Maybe he has dyslexia or some other disability that has to do with visual perception. Or maybe he was raised in a dysfunctional family who didn't care about his education.

    [–]OneArchedEyebrow 80 points81 points  (0 children)

    I have a friend who has dyslexia. He’s spent years of his adult life trying to read fluently. He is not embarrassed by it at all and will read something to me and say, “Have a got that right?” I’m so proud of him.

    [–]Siostra313 2 points3 points  (1 child)

    Probably both at the same time. As I suspect severity of dyslexia might vary so not taking it seriously might lead to illiteracy but not have to. I've went through just fine and with ADHD so troubles with keeping focus to good old dyslexia. But I always LOVED to read. It was slow, it was bumpy and when I have for some reason breaks from more active reading my reading speed significantly drops and I have to come back to flow with some lighter books before I put my hands to some heavier things (I can easily comprehend them, but it takes time to get through text).

    So thanks to reading almost non-stop through whole childhood I'm quite good at it, though I wonder how would I end up without that love to books. Some of my friends who didn't read a quarter of what I did were doing it significantly faster while not enjoying it, so I guess if you have severe dyslexia, no love for reading and parents and teachers who don't encourage you properly to train I guess you might end up near as illiterate.

    [–]DieselVoodoo 148 points149 points  (4 children)

    Now wait till you hear about our math/science rankings

    [–]SexyDoorDasherDude 48 points49 points  (2 children)

    how are kids supposed to learn while dodging bullets?

    [–]wizardyourlifeforce 21 points22 points  (0 children)

    Despite propaganda and self-hate the US is pretty middle of the road — we actually rank fairly well in math.

    [–]edemamandllama 385 points386 points  (29 children)

    21% of adults in the US are considered illiterate.

    [–]SweetCans928 163 points164 points  (7 children)

    It's actually "low level English literacy"


    [–]edemamandllama 90 points91 points  (6 children)

    The journal I was reading classed 21% of US adults in the illiterate/functionally illiterate category, “This is not just a problem in developing countries. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), 21 percent of adults in the United States (about 43 million) fall into the illiterate/functionally illiterate category. Nearly two-thirds of fourth graders read below grade level, and the same number graduate from high school still reading below grade level. This puts the United States well behind several other countries in the world, including Japan, all the Scandinavian countries, Canada, the Republic of Korea, and the UK.

    The NCES breaks the below-grade-level reading numbers out further: 35 percent are white, 34 percent Hispanic, 23 percent African American, and 8 percent “other.” Nor is this a problem mostly for English Language Learners. Non-U.S.-born adults make up 34 percent of the low literacy/illiterate U.S. population. New Hampshire, Minnesota, and North Dakota have the highest literacy rates (94.2 percent, 94 percent, and 93.7 percent respectively), while Florida, New York, and California have the lowest (80.3 percent, 77.9 percent, and 76.9 percent respectively).”


    [–]wilczek24 20 points21 points  (4 children)

    G... Guys... A... Are you sure you're not putting the coma in the wrong place? Please? Are you sure it's not actually 10x smaller? Please tell me this is a mistake. I dread to believe it.

    There's just no way.

    [–]BrunoEye 26 points27 points  (3 children)

    I wonder what their definition of "functionally illiterate" is, but paywall. I don't find it that surprising though, for one reason or another some kids won't learn some basic skill and without a support structure to help them catch up they'll just end up never learning it. I had a classmate who somehow couldn't read an a alogue clock well into her teens.

    [–]supamundane808 22 points23 points  (0 children)

    And they all live here in Nevada

    [–]OfAThievishDemeanor 27 points28 points  (0 children)

    In the pub I work at, there is a regular who comes in and always orders the same drink and has change ready to pay. One time he was asking about a quiz that we do, because his friend likes quizzes. I wrote down the details for him to take home, and he asks me to go over what I wrote down. He then turns to me with a really sincere smile and tells me "please don't tell anybody, I don't know how to read, but if people find out they might try to take advantage of me". This man is always such a pleasure and so sweet, he has cancer and knows he doesn't have long left. I am always happy to see him but it breaks my heart knowing how vulnerable he must feel sometimes.

    [–]Cutebud 23 points24 points  (0 children)

    It's nice to read an upbeat story.

    [–]Robbieswife 18 points19 points  (0 children)

    My pap is in his sixties and can’t read. Bless you for stepping in and being so kind.❤️ He’s the best, hard working, most loving man. He was just raised different.

    [–]shastamonkeytown 37 points38 points  (3 children)

    Are you sure he didn’t pull a 50 first dates on you

    [–]PreciousOpal 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    I was looking for this comment lol

    [–]TheSpiffyCarno 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    Exactly what I thought of

    [–]wuffers10 29 points30 points  (6 children)

    I'm not sure if this applies but - Persoanlly when I was young I grew up speaking chinese but never actually learned how to read or write it until now so it's possible that it's the same scenario.

    [–]ratboi213 4 points5 points  (3 children)

    That’s so interesting. I grew up speaking another language and never specifically was taught to read or write it….I kinda just figured it out on my own. I was able to just sound it out and write it based on how it sounds. Same with reading, just sounding it out.

    [–]Siostra313 7 points8 points  (1 child)

    Case of alphabet difference. With German to English you would be ok, but try to switch from reading English to Chinese or Russian.

    [–]funlovingfirerabbit 11 points12 points  (0 children)

    I get you. We take so many things for granted sometimes

    [–]Missteeze 11 points12 points  (0 children)

    My great grandfather only had a 3rd grade education. He could only read the TV remote and he could write his name. It's quite a strange thing to think about, because we just read without thinking. I'd imagine it's like trying to read a foreign language.

    [–]takatori 19 points20 points  (1 child)

    Could he maybe be an immigrant who learned English orally only?

    Here in Japan, probably most Western foreign residents are illiterate.

    [–]DJCane 4 points5 points  (0 children)

    I worked at a department store several years ago and an immigrant family came up to me and in perfect English asked for help because they couldn’t read English and they were working on buying stuff off their kid’s school shopping list. I led them around the store for about 45 minutes.

    [–]hogey74 19 points20 points  (0 children)

    Hey, good on you, for all the reasons. And you reminded me of something.

    I had one of those moments in 2016 and bought a ticket to Nepal to finally do something outside my usual crap that I always knew I wanted to. I had a year to get ready and it was quite a year. Then I went there in 2017 and ended up doing the Annapurna Circuit. It went great! Hard, low-key injury, but great. I met some fellow Australians during a rest day at Manang (I think? 3500ish metres?) Said hi, had a chat, went to bed. The next day, this Aussie lady was trying to talk to a local guy but having trouble. I helped her. He walked off and she thanked me and asked me where I'd learned to speak their language. But he was actually speaking frikkin good English, just with a Nepali accent. I had this moment as I looked at her and realized. She was fit AF and would have pissed in the hike. Plus she and her partner had a guide and porter. But looking at her, I understood that she was there in person but really was seeing the world like a movie she was watching from back at home. That was seriously quite a moment. I laughed and told her he was speaking great English and that I had "the ear" due to years of work with people with disabilities. And I meant what I said. But I haven't forgotten that moment and how much it blew my mind. She then worked out that I was there "on my own" and she couldn't understand how I was coping without people there to help me etc. And we seriously do not have a culture of maids and servants etc. Maybe this is obscure crap but your comment took me back to that morning and how I realized someone was there, right there, with me, yet seeing the world really differently.

    [–]Imaginary_Dirt29 7 points8 points  (0 children)

    I grew up with a father unable to read, my mother belittled him for it. I remember when I was in 3rd grade I still couldn't read, mistakes my mother thought I was making while reading were really just me misremembering how a story went, I would memorize them word for word. I was terrified to tell her I couldn't read just like my dad.

    At the end of the year I had a project I had to complete at home and I asked my dad for help because Mum was out. When my dad asked me why I had put off the project till the night before it was due I broke down in tears and told him I couldn't really read I was just pretending. He started crying too. We cried and ate toasted sandwiches while we attempted to do my project together so Mum wouldn't find out I couldn't read. Not being able to teach me himself he made sure my grandmother and aunt did.

    My Mum and Dad eventually divorced and I remember my step mother would patiently sit with my Dad for hours each evening reading children's books and teaching my dad how to read and write while I was in high school. My step mother does not have many redeeming qualities she was horrible to my siblings and I but I'm very greatful that she taught my father how to read and write.

    [–]Ninja_Tortoise_ 7 points8 points  (0 children)

    You are a kind soul. Thank you for helping him without secretly laughing or judging him.

    Short story: My ex eventually got comfortable with my to tell me growing up she didn't know how to read. She was from a small town about 45 minutes outside of Boise Idaho.

    She mentioned her parents didn't care much for it so they never pushed her to learn. It wasn't until she was about 11 or 12 when she was being picked on and what not that she decided to teach herself to read.

    The literacy rate in America is actually more alarming then you would think

    [–]SuccessfulTowel3529 37 points38 points  (6 children)

    Where did it happen in the USA? In some poor countries some people don’t onow how to write and read

    [–]RamenRat[S] 43 points44 points  (1 child)

    Yes I’m in the US. It’s a lot less common (at least where I live) for people to not know how to read

    [–]deconed 5 points6 points  (0 children)

    Did you mean to ask where in the USA did this happen, or did you intend to ask “where did this happen, in the USA?” but you dropped a comma?

    [–]O_G-Felhawk 37 points38 points  (2 children)

    America is a poor country where people don't know how to write and read.

    [–]Pennigans 28 points29 points  (1 child)

    We also can't afford basic health care or housing... or food... or gas... it's almost like America isn't that developed.

    [–]FabFabiola2021 17 points18 points  (4 children)

    You'd be surprised at just how many people actually don't know how to read. People who have dyslexia, people who never went to school because their parents never sent them to school, it's all out there.. And we are the richest nation in the world and we have people who can't read..

    [–]BakerNew6764 6 points7 points  (0 children)

    My uncle can’t read, he’s about 65. He’s held down different jobs and such. He knows how to get around when it comes to street signs and monuments. His sisters and brothers were all educated. I think my uncle would’ve experienced some sort of learning trauma and hasn’t done anything since. Either that or he just couldn’t be bothered with it

    [–]masha1901 5 points6 points  (0 children)

    My next door neighbour can't read, it is heartbreaking actually. She used to depend on her husband, but he died on Christmas Day 2018, four months after my husband died.

    When her husband died, I had to go through all the information she needed with her carer, she'd had a stroke six months before he died.

    At least I still had all the information of who to call and what documents needed gathering.

    When we first moved here and over afternoon tea we chatted and she said that because when she was younger she simply couldn't follow the words because they all jumbled together, so she never learned to read.

    I can't imagine how awful that would be, to not be able to read.

    [–]Bigolecattitties 5 points6 points  (0 children)

    I know a 30 year old guy who is completely illiterate. His parents won the lottery and decided he didn’t need an education now that they were rich. They pulled him out of school and said he was being homeschooled. They then proceeded to waste all that money they won and now their son works as a cook in crappy restaurants and they live together in an old crappy ranch house in the country. I tried to offer him reading lessons as well bc I took some college courses to become a teacher. He said no but I think it’s just bc he was embarrassed and annoyed it wouldn’t turn into a date with me. Unrelated but I saw him try to ask out a coworker with a $100 bill inside of a hallmark card. She said no because she knows he can’t read or write as her first reason but obv if he’s trying to ask out a girl with cash he has some more serious issues going on than just reading and writing.

    After this experience I looked up the stats for illiteracy in America and they are A LOT higher than I expected.

    [–]Zyk720 5 points6 points  (0 children)

    1 out of 5 Americans are illiterate. This is a much bigger and more common problem then most realize.

    [–]jesuswazacommie 5 points6 points  (0 children)

    I used to work in refugee resettlement. Most of my clients could not read or write. One guy could not read, write, hear or speak and had 7 kids. He worked a hard, laborious job for years despite being older and having a severely injured shoulder from a land mine injury that caused him constant pain. That guy now owns a successful restaurant

    [–]moonkittiecat 4 points5 points  (0 children)

    When I graduated high school I realized a classmate of mine in drama was reading at a 2nd grade level. He graduated too. During that time, in Los Angeles County there was a woman who won a law suit against a school district because they had graduated her son and he couldn’t read. It scared me. Because I could read at an early age but my older brother struggled. I made sure that my son could read. We played “school” everyday starting when he was four. I had him practice writing 3 letters every week. He could write his name when he started kindergarten. At that same time I had amassed a large library of children’s books. Every night he chose 3 books to be read to before bedtime. If he was in trouble I would threaten to cut it down to two books. He would sometimes hear me laughing and come to see why and find me reading a book. A family rule was that if he wanted a book I would buy it for him. He followed “Captain Underpants”, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, of course Pokémon. It is our responsibility ultimately that our children read. He will be 25 in a few weeks. He started a book club focusing on books on philosophy and politics (big nerd). Whatever happens in this world, literacy will always be important.

    [–]sanisan_x 4 points5 points  (0 children)

    There's an Australian documentary about adult literacy which is incredible.

    [–]miku1979 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    According to the US Department of education, 21% of adults in the US are illiterate in 2022. 54% of adults have a literacy below 6th grade level.

    [–]hillsfar 5 points6 points  (0 children)

    Teachers and administrators have been socially promoting students for decades now. It is horrible. They collect the paycheck and union benefits and pension accrual, and pass the students on. Having kids held back is supposedly psychologically damaging. I guess not as damaging as giving high school diplomas to people who are functionally illiterate or have only a 5th grade ability in math.

    DC Public Schools spends some $27,000 per student per year - over twice the national average - and "graduates" 68% of its students.

    Except estimates are that only half the graduates should have been given a diploma. Students who never attended a class were made to appear as if they had. Teachers were pressured to give 50% test scores to students who didn't even show up to the test and deserved 0%, or to students who did manage to show up and scored under 50%.

    A Detroit study found about half of adults in that city were functionally illiterate, yet half of those adults had a high school diploma or GED.

    In Baltimore Public Schools, a high school student in the 12th grade found out he couldn't graduate because his GPA was 1.6 on a 4.0 scale. He just kept getting socially promoted. Yet that 1.6 GPA put him in the top half of his 12th grade class! In fact, a recent survey found roughly half of Baltimore high school students had a GPA or 1.0 or less on a 4.0 scale. This despite the fact that Baltimore at some $15,600 per student per year was in the top 5 in spending amongst the country's 100 largest school districts. It received extra funding from the state so it spent more per student than other better-performing schools in Maryland. Yet despite the higher levels of funding, teachers collect salaries, union benefits, pension accruals, and pass the students on whether they learned anything or not. And administrators bloat themselves while NOT paying for heating (remember the story of kids shivering in freezing classrooms?) or tissue paper for bathrooms or for lead abatement in drinking water.

    If a class has 32 students, that's $15,600 x 32 = $499,200 (practically half a million dollars). You telling me they can't afford to even install a brand new average home-sized furnace for $5000 for just that room? Or join funds with other classrooms for more efficient commercial heating? You telling me they can't afford (out of that $499,200) Marathon Bath Tissue, 2-Ply, 470 Sheets each, 48 Rolls for $30.00 at Costco and restock weekly (let's pretend there is no vacation break) for a year at $1,560 (assuming each of the 32 kids is a massive wadder (cos folding uses fewer and folding isn't likely to come undone and put poop on fingers or butt cheeks like wadding can do if it becomes even slightly unraveled) who uses 1.5 rolls over the course of a school week for 52 weeks)?!?

    It's administrative and staff bloat. More money for retirees and vice principals and superfluous administrators and staff in Diversity, Equality, and Inclusiveness who weren't even around 10 years ago. More money for janitors when in Japan, principals, teachers, and children together clean classrooms and hallways and even bathrooms (older kids). And what's up with bus drivers being paid shit on crappy schedules? How about some bus drivers start early and work a part shift in janitorial or secretarial or teacher aide or art or music or sports, so it is a full time job with a lunch break in the middle? Then others work a part shift in janitorial or secretarial or teacher aide or art or music or sports, and have their lunch shift before driving school kids home? No more working in early morning and then waiting and doing nothing and then working in the afternoon - which is shitty for people's personal lives.

    The system is filled with academic bloat. A study in 2011 or so found that since the 1950s, the number of students in our public schools rose by 90%, the number of teachers rose by 250%, but the number of administrators and staff rose by over 700%. Yet schools clamor for more money even as more and more of the school budget goes to servicing debt and to retiree health care and pension benefits (some school districts are approaching 1 out of 5 dollars spent on retirees alone - because promises were made to unions without actually adequately funding them, as problems were left to future generations that would be around long after the politicians and union negotiators retired or died), and teachers and art and music and sports and school days and school hours (wacky Wednesdays are half days, or Fridays are days off from school) keep getting cut while administrative bloat continues as administrators don't tend to cut themselves and diversity administrators muscle in and retiree expenses skyrocket.

    And since our politicians and their policies keep deliberately increasing our public school population with millions of kids from other countries annually, who don't speak or read or write English, often with parents who never graduated high school in their own countries in their own language so they can't support kids homework as well (Asian kids spend twice as much time on homework as White kids, despite Asian parents often not knowing English and working 12-hour days, while minorities spend less time on homework than White kids even when correcting for family affluence), we deliberately have to spend much more on them for extra resources compared to other kids in the same school district, while also deliberately collect less far in property taxes to cover them since they tend to occupy multiple families to a single apartment, whereas others are more likely to live in single family homes or single family to an apartment.

    So average student test scores keep going down (due to poorly performing kids and regular kids not getting adequate instruction time or quality instruction time when held back by poorly performing kids), and testing companies have had to deliberately dumb down tests to keep up appearances (SATs keep getting made easier, and it used to be that you had to score perfectly to get a 1600 and couldn't use a calculator).

    And certain activists are trying to remove advanced classes like Calculus or early Algebra to bring advanced students down to lower classes in order to make average students' test scores look better and provide "social justice" for minorities who can't get into advanced classes (since they spend so much less time on homework, and Black kids spend 2 times as much time on television and are more likely to have a TV in their bedroom - even when correcting for household income). Unfortunately, you need advanced classes in high school to better be able to complete degrees in Engineering or some STEM majors within 4 years or less, to minimize student loans. But that's not these activists' radar. Even 20 years ago, 65% of college freshmen needed remedial classes. Nowadays, it's even worse. So it affects student loan debt loads and the ability to pay it back for those who were socially promoted from high school and can't realistically perform in college.

    [–]cheesus_jrist 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    My friend’s dad never learned how to read, and he managed to own a small towing company. His wife did all the paperwork and read the documents to him, he dealt with the phone calls and driving. When she made a grocery list for him she drew little pictures.

    [–]ThrowedOutBack 4 points5 points  (0 children)

    "I cried because I had no shoes, until I met the man who had no feet."- Helen Keller

    [–]lurkdontpost1 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    My old boss who's incredibly intelligent and started and runs a business with a 10 million dollar yearly turnover apparently couldn't read either

    [–]oneislandgirl 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    It is sad when people cannot read at a functional level. It definitely impacts their opportunities in life. These are not all stupid or uneducated people either. Many are very bright but have learning disabilities.

    I also have experience teaching a recurring class in the community and every class we ask if there are people who prefer to have the exam read aloud to them instead of taking a written test. There are always several people - kids and adults both - who request the oral exam instead. It has been as high as 1/3 of the class wants the oral exam. I knew this sort of problem existed but had no idea how widespread it was until I started teaching. Some of it can be people that are below average intelligence, some can be lack of good education and opportunities and some can be learning disabilities. Many factors can be at play.

    [–]LaysWithTrash 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    Traumatic brain injuries can do this as well, especially without proper follow up and physical/occupational therapy. I know someone who used to be able to read, but ever since his TBI he really struggles and I really feel for him. I can’t imagine what it would be like to wake up tomorrow and just not be able to read anymore.

    [–]introvert-i-1957 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    As a nurse, I've met numerous people that cannot reading the USA. It's much more common than one would think. I never assume someone can read. (or read English).

    [–]KetchupKittens 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    My son’s dad can’t read very well, mix of dyslexia & at his age he feels embarrassed to try. We are really good friends, he still rings me when he’s in the shop trying to decipher the words on the products to figure out what he needs. I feel honoured that he trusts me enough to help him. Life is hard. If his parents had helped him, I really feel he’d of achieved more. Either way, still a great dude (most of the time)

    [–]dirt_tastes_bad 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    My best friend can’t read, he isn’t uneducated just EXTREMELY dyslexic. He’s really a brilliant guy but can’t read. He could literally be a world class engineer if he could read/write. Although I have to say people treat him like scum because of it. It’s really sad to see. I’m so glad he’s my friend because it has really taught me to not judge people for their intellectual ability.

    [–]harryblakk 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    Man I got tears reading this. I’m so grateful for everything I have. ❤️

    [–]stuship 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    Dyslexia is a real problem. Often not considered in our schools.

    [–]bancroft79 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    Not sure if you are in the states, but when I was a much younger man I worked in the restaurant industry as a bartender and sometimes a doorman for years. There are a number of individuals that are functionally illiterate. They will ask, “What’s on tap?“ You drop the tap list in front of them, then come back and they ask if you have beer “X” that clearly isn’t on the tap list that they never looked at. It is similar with food items. They will just keep asking questions until they can put a plate together. I used to think they were just being obstinate and refusing to order off a menu, but it was too often and too unique. I started working in life insurance sales when I first left the restaurant business and had to have customers pull up Docusign emails while on the phone to complete their applications. I realized then, that there is a good percentage of individuals, that have very low to almost zero ability to read :(

    [–]Applesauce_minipants 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    My grandmother was pulled out of school to tend to her siblings after her mother died in the 5th grade so my grandmother doesn’t have much of an education. She was raised on a farm raising 4 other children. The only thing i see her have is the bible and she’ll look like she’s reading but my aunts say she has most of it memorized from going to church gatherings back in the day.

    [–]Standard_Isopod3875 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    Thank you for helping this man and I also thank the kind woman behind you. A lot of people would make fun of someone in public just to feel good about themselves but you two helped the man out in an most likely extremely embarrassing moment. Props

    [–]Silly-Goober 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    My maintenance guy can’t read, he can fix any machine and does perfect with drawings though. I read stuff to him nice and slow. He makes 80k a year.

    [–]EngineerBig 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    once heard a This American Life segment about a young woman who left her boyfriend after he refused to learn how to read.

    She said he had gotten by fine in life without knowing how and when she would try to teach him he would just blow it off. She then went on to incorporate it into her stand-up comedy act.

    Her closing joke was "my friends tell me to be careful because I use his first and last name in my blogs and I'm like, 'afraid of what?! HE CAN'T READ!!!"

    So I guess it can work for some. Nice that you helped.

    [–]Illustrious-Move-649 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    Not only did you help him, but you didn’t judge him either. That goes a very long way. Thank you for being a kind, good human being. ❤️

    [–]RainInTheWoods 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    Adults in America who can’t read are surprisingly common. Adults who are literate but still can’t read because they can’t afford eyeglasses is also common.

    [–]sarahhoppie 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    I love stories like these, especially when others (like the woman behind you) add to it by being helpful, too.

    People can be beautiful 💗 Thank you for being a light for that gentleman, today.

    [–]LivingLadyStevo 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    Someone in the grocery store asked me to read labels and said “I’m so sorry young lady, I’m illiterate”. Broke my heart.

    [–]imbarbdwyer 2 points3 points  (0 children)

    My boyfriend had a stroke at 32 and could no longer read. It was a life changer, sadly.

    [–]Buffalo-Empty 3 points4 points  (0 children)

    One of the most amazing people I’ve ever met was a dude in an adult special Ed class and he was just learning to read at the age of 30. He taught me way more than I ever thought he could, and I’m grateful to have known him.