If so you may be in a minority!
A new study published by the Department of Education reports (and reported in the New York Times and other newspapers) that literacy has fallen significantly for recent college graduates, as well as alarmingly amongst Latinos. Working at an open admissions university, I have seen this trend first hand. It is one of the challenges of working here to balance a classroom with a wide array of student preparedness.
What the study highlights is not this problem, one educators know well, but the overall impact of the failure of education in this country. The study reports that only 13% of the population achieves the level designated "Proficient." This is the top level of measurement, mere proficiency, which they define as:
• reading lengthy, complex, abstract prose texts as well as synthesizing information and making complex inferences
• integrating, synthesizing, and analyzing multiple pieces of information located in complex documents
• locating more abstract quantitative information and using it to solve multistep problems when the arithmetic operations are not easily inferred and the problems are more complex
Only 13% of the population? What percentage of the population graduates from some college? Surely more than 13%! Yet so many are apparently incapable of the skills required to pass my Freshman Composition course. Clearly, we are falling down on the job. It's easy to see why: education has no value, but it has prestige. As John Gardner wrote,
We must learn to honor excellence in every socially accepted human activity, however humble the activity, and to scorn shoddiness, however exalted the activity. An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society that scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
Here's to honoring excellence!