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The recovery of the belief that there does exist a transcendent, universal moral order is therefore a necessary condition of America's being delivered from its present educational crisis. Important thinkers throughout history have contended that there is a higher order of permanent things, that human happiness is dependent on living our lives in accordance with this transcendent order, and that peace and order within human society requires similar conduct. The most important task of education, then, is to continually remind students of the importance of this transcendent order and of its content.
But the plague of moral illiteracy is also due to the greater commitment, dedication, and cleverness of the people who gained control of public education. It was their zealous dedication and specious arguments that won over enough politicians and judges to seal their victory. That victory has been a defeat for education in this nation and an irreparable loss for the millions of young people who had the misfortune of going to schools controlled by their philosophy.
Illiteracy can be blamed on the education system located in areas where the system is inadequately preparing the youth for the world of work. Today, a good basic education is essential for even minimum success in any field of work. For a compulsory education system to be successful, there must be a sustained, dedicated, and well-financed program of mass education. There are many ways to improve the educational values of today. It could be as simple as working with children more closely and personally.
Nearly half of America's adults are poor readers, or "functionally illiterate." They can't carry out simply tasks like balancing check books, reading drug labels or writing essays for a job.
Illiteracy in individuals stems from different, generally inter-related causes which, together, create a series of often insurmountable barriers for those concerned.
Illiteracy, as a major problem in the United States, is not entirely the responsibility of the teachers or facilitators who are instructing. Many students are at fault themselves for not fully learning to read. The U.S. Department of Education statistics show that the high school dropout rate is 29% in this country, which is significantly higher than many other countries, for example, Russia and Japan. Many students give up trying to learn or believe that school is unimportant. Sometimes, dropping out of school may be a learned trait from their parents. Illiteracy is an inter-generational problem, following a parents/child pattern. Poor school achievement and dropping out before completing school are commonplace among children of illiterate parents. Because they are unable to help their children learn, parents who cannot read are often perpetuated as the inter-generational cycle of illiteracy.
Without books, newspapers or magazines in the home, many children grow up with severe literacy deficiencies. Thousands of children grow up each day in homes where education, hope, and ambition are as scarce as money. As these children grow up and become disinterested in school, they may drop-out or start a low or no-skill job. Some of those who cannot find jobs turn to drugs or petty crime, which can eventually result in major crime. Some of these children do not have the opportunities, but they do have the ambition and motivation. If they make it through high school, they might not have the money to pay for college or be able to support the needs at home. As these children grow up, they become a part of the social-economic ladder that determines their status in society.
Functional illiteracy commonly means the inability of a person to read, write, speak, and use computers in everyday life. When confronted with these issues, individuals without basic literacy skills cannot function effectively. This problem is all too common in the United States. Dealing with illiteracy demands large amounts of resources from city, state, and federal government. This causes taxpayers to use more of their hard-earned money to help alleviate this problem.
Illiteracy this extensive is virtually unprecedented in America's history. Eighty years ago, in 1910, only 2.2 percent of American children between the ages of ten and fourteen could neither read nor write. It is important to remember that the illiteracy of 1910 reflected for the most part children who never had the advantage of schooling. The illiterates of today, however, are not people who never went to school; they are, for the most part, individuals who have spent eight to twelve years in public schools.
Arnold saw the Bible as a great work of literature and a means of advancing culture, though he did not hold to personal faith in Christ. But he recognized the importance of the Christian faith as a guide for society and saw the waning of faith as a loss for society. He believed that culture and education would have to fill the void left by the retreat of Biblical faith as the integrating force in society.