Monday, December 19, 2022

The American Illiteracy Map

ProPublica has mapped out the levels of adult illiteracy across the United States. 23% of adults in the United States struggle to read. However the levels of adult illiteracy are not the same across the whole country. Because the U.S. has one of the most unequal education systems of industrialized countries race and income have a huge impact on adult literacy rates.

An interactive map in the article Why America Fails Adults Who Struggle to Read shows the percentage of the adult population who struggle to read in every county in the country. The map shows quite a stark north-south divide. The black belt and southern Texas particularly stand out as areas with very high levels of adult illiteracy.

The ProPublica article focuses on how adult education is failing to address America's poor literacy levels. Much of this is due to systemic failures in an adult education system which prioritises advanced students and is less interested in providing literacy education. 

Part of the geographical differences in adult literacy may also be due to the variations in state funding for adult education. The ProPublica article lists each state's funding level for adults per eligible adult. Connecticut tops this list with $149 per eligible adult. Nebraska has the lowest level of funding for adult education with just $2 per eligible adult (although Nebraska appears to have comparitively low levels of adult illiteracy - with most counties falling far below the 23% national average of adults struggling to read).

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