Kern County named the most illiterate county in America

By Kimberly Gill

Staff Writer

After a census was conducted by Central Connecticut State University, it was determined that Kern County has the highest illiteracy rate, compared to other cities in the United States.

The following except comes from “This study attempts to capture one critical index of our nation’s social health-the literacy of its major cities (population of 250,000 and above). This set of factors measures people’s use of their literacy and thus presents a large-scale portrait of our nation’s cultural vitality.  From this data we can better perceive the extent and quality of the long-term literacy essential to individual economic success, civic participation, and the quality of life in a community and a nation.”

According to, “over 15 percent of Kern County adults have not attained a 9th grade literacy level, over 13.9 percent of Kern County adults lack the basic literacy skills needed to perform daily job functions and over 28.1 percent of Kern County residents do not speak English well enough to function in everyday life.”

Lisa Phillips, Executive Director of the Kern Adult Literacy Council said, “The census that was taken is very subjective; it ranked cites based on how many bookstores are in the county, how many books are sold in stores and online, how many newspapers are in circulation, and how many magazines are sold. It really has nothing to do with literacy rates attained by individual people.”

However, the results of the census were not wholly negative. “One positive that comes out of the census is that most people read it or hear about it and it brings attention to our organization and to the literacy problem,” said Phillips.  “It also encourages people to help out by volunteering to tutor kids and adults and help them to learn to read and write.”

Kern County resident, Breanna Lawrence, said, “Last year when I graduated high-school, it was really sad how many people I knew that didn’t graduate because they couldn’t read or write at a normal level. People should take school more seriously because without a diploma or degree you will never be able to get a good job.”

If you are interested in volunteering for the Kern Adult Literacy Council, contact Lisa Phillips at 661-324-3213. Working for two hours a week for a full year and can really help influence someone’s life in a very positive way and hopefully help the illiteracy problem in Kern County.

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