2005 December 17 Saturday
Hispanic Immigration Prevents Literacy Improvement

When politicians go on about "investments in education" keep in mind that education spending has grown rapidly and yet due to demographic trends resulting from immigration the money spent on education is not improving the average educational level of the American public.

Washington, D.C. American adults can read a newspaper or magazine about as well as they could a decade ago, but have made significant strides in performing literacy tasks that involve computation, according to the first national study of adult literacy since 1992.

The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), found little change between 1992 and 2003 in adults' ability to read and understand sentences and paragraphs or to understand documents such as job applications.

Most of the educational gains made in recent decades came before the 1990s. We've been spinning our wheels since then.

African Americans scored higher in 2003 than in 1992 in all three categories, increasing 16 points in quantitative, eight points in document and six points in prose literacy. Overall, adults have improved in document and quantitative literacy with a smaller percentage of adults in 2003 in the Below Basic category compared to 1992. Whites, African Americans and Asian/Pacific Islanders have improved in all three measures of literacy with a smaller percentage in 2003 in the Below Basic category compared to 1992.

Hispanic adults showed a decrease in scores for both prose and document literacy and a higher percentage in the Below Basic category. The report also showed that five percent of U.S. adults, about 11 million people, were termed "nonliterate" in English, meaning interviewers could not communicate with them or that they were unable to answer a minimum number of questions.

Immigration trends seem set to make America go backward in terms of educational attainment.

Other report highlights:

  • White adults' scores were up nine points in quantitative, but were unchanged in prose and document literacy.
  • Hispanic adults' scores declined in prose and document literacy 18 points and 14 points, respectively, but were unchanged in quantitative literacy.
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders' scores increased 16 points in prose literacy, but were unchanged in document and quantitative literacy.
  • Among those who spoke only Spanish before starting school, scores were down 17 points in prose and document literacy between 1992 and 2003.

To put its findings in perspective, NAAL also reported on U.S. population changes between 1992 and 2003. During the decade, the percentage of white adults decreased from 77 to 70 percent, while the percentage of Hispanic adults increased from eight to 12 percent. The percentage of Asian/Pacific Islander adults doubled (to 4 percent). The percentage of adults who spoke only English before starting school decreased from 86 to 81 percent.

In another example that the US business press is waking up to the Hispanic immigration problem Investors Business Daily notes that cheap immigrant labor is an obstacle in the way of a more educated populace.

Immigration: A new study shows no progress in promoting the ability to read English. Cheap labor has social costs, and this could well be one of them.

...

Put another way, adult basic literacy in America has been stuck at 86%, despite generally rising levels of formal education.

Note the point that generally rising levels of formal education are not lowering illiteracy. As Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom pointed out in their book No Excuses, equal levels of formal education mask huge differences in knowledge between the races.

" Blacks nearing the end of their high school education perform a little worse than white eighth-graders in both reading and U.S. history, and a lot worse in math and geography. In math and geography, indeed, they know no more than whites in the seventh grade. Hispanics do only a little better than African-Americans. In reading and U.S. history, their NAEP scores in their senior year of high school are a few points above those of whites in eighth grade. In math and geography, they are a few points lower."

The obvious and widely ignored cause of such differences is the difference in average IQ found between the races. The massive public lie which denies racial differences in intelligence makes most social commentary about education and immigration into an elaborate set of rationalizations which attempt to avoid the elephant in the room.

The Investors Business Daily coverage of the above report on literacy reminds me of the BusinessWeek coverage of a report claiming that when white baby boomers retire the average educational level in the US workfoce will decline due to the rising Hispanic fraction of the US workforce. It is starting to sink into the business press that the Hispanics are not going to provide technical staff for high tech American industries.

Thanks to John Bolton for the tip.

If you want to read more on this general topic see my Immigration Societal Decay category archive.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 December 17 01:45 PM  Immigration Societal Decay


Comments
John S Bolton said at December 17, 2005 6:01 PM:

This makes the US look awfully backward, that we have 5% who can't even get any questions right on a literacy test, when other countries have only 1% in that category. Diversity of illiterates is our strength?

John S Bolton said at December 19, 2005 12:14 AM:

Employment rates are dozens of points lower for the low literacy categories, in comparison to the higher ones. In British Columbia, they found a 40 point difference between the highest and lowest literacy categories. the more common finding was more like two dozen points of difference in employment rates.

Jim said at December 19, 2005 10:07 AM:

immigrating to this country should be like applying for college. take an aptitude test and show a history of personal achievements.

similar to college, it's my opinion, that race shouldn't even be asked. let the test scores do the discriminating.

crush41 said at December 19, 2005 7:57 PM:

But Jim, all those tests are discriminating. Different groups perform markedly different on them, indicating that there is some nefarious cultural bias present. Since it is self-evident that all people are the same, this is the only plausible explanation. Only an irrational racist would suggest otherwise. Stop being so xenophobic and try helping these immigrants learn!

And no, of course I will not expound on any of the italics!


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