By Richard Garibay
Move over crystal meth, something new is putting Bakersfield on the map. According to a 2012 study conducted by Central Connecticut State University, out of 76 cities with an estimated population of 250,000 or more, Bakersfield ranked last in overall literacy of its citizens.
The several aspects that the study used in order to determine a city’s place on the list were a city’s newspaper circulation, booksellers, overall citizen education, Internet resources, libraries, and periodical publishers.
Bakersfield’s place in each of the categories was, needless to say, abysmal.
Newspaper circulation saw Bakersfield at 67.5. Bakersfield booksellers placed us ahead of Los Angeles, Calif. and El Paso, Texas at 74. Adult education ranked Bakersfield at 68. In Internet resources, which included number of E-readers in each household, Bakersfield scored its best ranking at 56. Libraries and periodical publishers were 71 and 74, respectively.
After punching all of the aforementioned numbers and facts into a calculator and working some mathematical magic, the study finds Bakersfield at a pathetic 76 out of 76.
Now you might be thinking, “It’s all fine and dandy to know this, but what can I do to help?” I’ll tell you. You know that movie that you’ve been dying to see? Don’t watch it, pick up a book. You know that video game you’ve logged a couple of weeks on and are trying to beat? Don’t play it, pick up a book. You know that ‘Hunger Games’ series all of the kids say you should read? Don’t read it, pick up a real book.
If my suggestion of picking up a book seems
facetious, you’re right.
The fact is that you are already doing your part by attending college and reading this newspaper, but this isn’t a problem that will simply end with our college careers.
To further combat this problem, we must look to officials who continue to cut education spending, library funding and make college an impossible dream by constantly increasing tuition.
How can education flourish when high schools struggle to keep teachers and fund extra-curricular activities that keep children interested?
How can people access books they might have an interest in if public libraries are forced to open at erratic hours and are unable to stay current with new works? How can students pursue higher education when they can’t pay for the books classes require? Literacy isn’t simply a matter of how much money is spent on one subject, the matter is intertwined with almost every other subject, just as an economy is built on both supply and demand.
Education funding as a whole is the only way to increase literacy; it greatly improves a child’s chances of learning how to read and helps adults appreciate the artistic aspect.
We must pressure these officials to make it more affordable and accessible to pursue an interest in literature.
More information on the subject of adult literacy is available online at the National Center for Education Statistics (www.ncees.ed.gov).