There are currently more than 30 million adults in the United States whose ability to read, write, and do basic math is at or below the level of the average third grader.
The current system of adult basic education in the U.S. has long been unable to reach more than a fraction of the population that could benefit from its services.
Experts in the field agree that this is a problem that could be meaningfully addressed. Doing so, however, would require aggressive, coordinated investment on all levels of government, and the federal government has not provided the necessary leadership or funding. In fact, over the last decade, federal funding, adjusted for inflation, has gone down. State governments, too, have mostly failed to respond in any way that would suggest recognition that the epidemic of adult illiteracy is an emergency. More