What happens when almost half the people in a city can’t read? CBS Detroit reports that:
According to a new report, 47 percent of Detroiters are “functionally illiterate.” The alarming new statistics were released by the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund on Wednesday.
What does “functionally illiterate” mean?
“Not able to fill out basic forms, for getting a job — those types of basic everyday (things). Reading a prescription; what’s on the bottle, how many you should take… just your basic everyday tasks,” said Karen Tyler-Ruiz, Director of the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund, the organization which conducted the study.
This is Detroit, we know — a city devastated by the steady decline of automotive jobs, whose population has declined from over 2 million in the 50s to less than 750,000 today. Nor is this simply the result of urban flight; suburbs have experienced sharp declines as well. And for a while, we thought these were the scariest numbers coming out of Detroit aside from the Lions’ won/lost percentages.
But the illiteracy numbers are a real stunner. Detroit has enough problems, including the insane decision to open the city to casino gambling. (Does anyone you know say “Hey — let’s go to Detroit and shoot some craps? I didn’t think so. So who is shooting craps in Detroit? How many of them can read?)
Admittedly, we are a trifle suspicious of surveys conducted by an organization called the “Detroit Regional Workforce Fund,” but — 47%?
Let’s face it. If half the people in a city can’t read the labels on their drugs, it’s no surprise that a lot of the drugs they are using don’t have labels. This can’t be good news for other US cities, either, especially those whose raison d’etre involved manufacturing — and that’s most of them.
We can’t help wondering what these numbers look like in New York. LA. Chicago. Houston. We’d like to know.