Saturday, December 17

COLLEGE-LEVEL ILLITERACY NEEDS GET-TOUGH APPROACH

A well-regarded teacher and blogger, Betsy Newmark, comments in this post on a recently released study that less than one-third of college graduates in 2003 were proficient in literacy. I would add from my own experience as an employer that even worse than their reading aptitude is their chronic inability to write, or, for that matter, even to express themselves verbally and make a compelling argument.

I recall a Freshman Year course I took in college: Western Civilization. The course syllabus included the requisite purchase of 26 books, many of them original texts, which broke my book budget and my youthful penchant for superficial, uncritical reading. Indeed, that course and its professor had a profound impact on me and made a prodigious reader out of me during my adult life.

Interesting, isn't it, that at a time when college and university tuition increases have been double-digit and far out-pacing the inflation rate, literacy levels among graduates have fallen. Liberals always think the most efficacious solution to educational issues is throwing money at the problems. I agree with Betsy, who writes:

If institutions and state governments supporting public colleges are going to do anything to deal with this decline in literacy among graduates, they need to know where the problem exists. They don't need a blanket one-size-fits-all solution. Many universities are probably doing a fine job and their graduates most likely are passing these tests. Let's figure out which schools have a problem so that we can start targeting those programs. Or, at the very least, let parents know what they're probably getting when they pay those tuition bills.