, Research Paper
The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society
I agree slightly with Kozol, that widespread illiteracy may undermine democracy in the United States. Kozol says that illiteracy undermines democracy in the US since most illiterates do not vote. He claims that even when they do vote, illiterates are almost certain to vote not by ideology or political platform, but for whomever they can remember from a street sign or television ad. Kozol also claims that since 60 million people in the US are illiterate, about one third of the population at the time of his publication, that our own US government is neither of, nor for, nor by, the people, which is the very basis of American democracy (p. 207). Illiteracy works hard here to undermine our political democracy.
There are many things that I think can be done to lessen the problems of illiteracy. We should push harder in primary schooling to be sure that everyone who attends is able to read. If someone is able to slip through there, then there should be other social programs that teach reading. A number of reading courses could be set up through community centers, non-profits, churches, etc. to help those who can t read get help. I think that anyone who knows that they can t read would obviously take whatever assistance they could get if they only knew it existed.
Kozol describes many challenges that the average illiterate would have to face on an almost daily basis. I think that Kozol does a good job in describing how illiteracy can impact someone s life so relentlessly, but at times I felt that Kozol might have been exaggerating exactly how much illiteracy would have caused problems. Kozol may have several motives for exaggerating. I think he was attempting to evoke sympathy by showing what the extremist illiterate must face. He shows what the most acute problems could be for an illiterate. He does this so that people may realize that illiteracy is a legitimate problem in today s society. This way, he may sway people onto his side of the issue. I think a large reason for his writing was to show the problems that illiterates face to the society en masse, thus eliciting some form of response to attack the illiteracy these people must face.
Kozol has left it as a rhetorical question whether or not we are able to or even wish to combat this grave problem of illiteracy that our country is facing now. I think that we should do something about it, and there are many ways to go about it. First off, I believe that sufficient funding should be proportioned for this cause. Too often, a social program will have great merits, but not enough funding to properly operate. Second, we need aggressive initiative by people to teach literacy. We need for teachers to teach when young children are in school. We also need places in the community such as non-profits, churches, charities, community centers, etc. to have programs enacted so that those seeking help will be able to easily obtain it. Illiteracy is a definite problem in the US, but it is something that we can successfully combat.