Education: Illiteracy in the U.S.

The Bureau of the Census had a reassuring but not startling piece of news last week: since 1930, the number of U.S. illiterates (14 years old and up) has dropped 1.3 million, while the population has jumped 17.4 million. But school superintendents and Fourth of July orators could keep their shirt fronts buttoned: 2.8 million people in the U.S. still cannot read & write.

The bureau also told how its own methods of measuring literacy had changed. From 1870 to 1930, census takers simply asked whether a person could read & write. Too many illiterates, the bureau felt, were not admitting it....

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