Three out of four fourth-graders in Detroit public schools are unable to pass basic reading proficiency. In suburban schools, the numbers are not so grim, but many of their students also read below grade-level. Students who do not learn to read by the third grade are unable to read to learn what they should from fourth grade on.
Functional illiteracy is also a profound problem among adults. Almost one in every two adults
living in Detroit is functionally illiterate, and it is by no means just a Detroit problem. Wayne County's functional illiteracy rate is more than 35%, with Macomb and
Oakland rates standing at 13-15%. Even there, many suburban communities have higher rates, including Pontiac (34%), Inkster
(34%), and Southfield (24%). Statewide, one in three
adults reads below a 6th grade level.
Taken together, illiteracy in metro Detroit is an inter-generational problem that demands action on many fronts. Children and adults who cannot read cannot learn properly and cannot earn a decent living wage. Both to promote social justice and to foster regional economic prosperity, JCRC aims to address that problem through these literacy programs: