Literacy and N. d. N. Pag Essay

Submitted By tchatters11
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Terrell Chatters
Professor Harris
ENGL 101-14
22 February 2015
Kozol Critique Many people in America can argue that illiteracy is one of the biggest problems for the citizens of the land of the free. Jonathon Kozol addressed this topic in his essay “The Human Cost” discussed this epidemic, and raised awareness for the millions of Americans who can’t read nor write. Also the difficulties that they face on an everyday basis, in making small obstacles like reading a box of macaroni to major decisions such as reading over the agreement to a surgery. Although Kozol claims that there were 60 million illiterate Americans in the 1980’s, which is a number far too high to be considered true. After read reading Kozol’s essay, you have to really think about how Kozol is defining illiteracy, because my assumption is that he makes it seem like the people literally can not read nor write. And are useless bodies that plague the earth with the way that he keeps using the word illiterate so many times throughout the whole essay, also with the way that he uses big words for no reason outside of he can makes me feel like I myself could be illiterate. But the definition of a functional illiterate is a person with some ability to read and write, but not enough for daily practical needs. This definition makes them feel more human than my assumed definition that I get from Kozol talking down on these poor unfortunate people. Also Kozol talks about how women in Boston “cannot read the waivers that they sign preceding surgical procedures” (206), yet how many literate people can really say that they really read the terms and conditions on anything before they sign When you sit and think off the top of your head of how many possible people that are in a country of three hundred and twenty point nine million (US Census), that could be illiterate; you might come up with a more sensible number like maybe 10-20 million people. Yet Kozol stated that 60 million United States Citizens are illiterate; at least in the 1980’s, which had a far less population than America in 2015. This number seems to be a tad bit high and exaggerated so after doing some research. I found on that “23 percent, roughly 40 to 44 million” of Americans are “functionally illiterate” which means that they can read at a fourth grade level. This number instantly puts Kozol’s statement to rest, with an equally high number but yet believable number. Although some of Kozol’s information is incorrect and somewhat over exaggerated, you have to commend Kozol for wanting to shed light and bring attention to this detrimental topic. And hopefully us as Americans can come together and help those that are struggling to read