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Facing Our Own Literacy Crisis: Rhetorical Analysis

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Essay title: Facing Our Own Literacy Crisis: Rhetorical Analysis

Facing Our Own Literacy Crisis: Rhetorical Analysis

The article, “Facing Our Own Literacy Crisis,” is about a worry that Driek Zirinsky had about the literacy levels in the United States. Often throughout the column, Zirinsky voices her concern and frustration about the rate of illiterate Americans. This article was posted in the English Journal in December, 1987. This is a magazine written specifically for junior and high school teachers to be educated about things going on that may interest them, or their work environment. Zirinsky explains in the article how concerned she is personally about the “two to three million adults that aren’t able to read or write” in the U.S. (61). Throughout the article, Zirinsky talks about the first hand experience she has with the lack of literacy in the U.S. by being a teacher. In more recent times, the idea of functional literacy is “being able to use reading and writing to do everyday tasks” (61). Zirinsky does not believe that we, as Americans, are “functionally literate.” Many local investigations and studies were done about this matter and all are explained in detail throughout. Zirinsky asks to hear from others and receive input about the topic proposed.

This column was in The English Journal for academic or scholarly readers. Throughout the article, you come to understand that Zirinsky is very “frustrated and disappointed” (61) about the literacy rates in our society. She makes this statement very clear by saying, “I expect other English leaders will share my frustration and disappointment” (61). She has had first hand experience with literacy in the U.S. by being an English leader. She wants others who understand this point of view to give their input and opinions. With being upset about this issue, she seems to stand in a good place as far as evidence goes because she often gives statistics such as, “Contrast these projections to ZAEP results which suggest that only one to five percent of seventeen-year-olds tested can read or write at this level of literacy” (62). In addition, she often sounds worried and sympathetic about the problem. She gives the idea that she wants to make an impact and help the situation.

Zirinsky uses strong statistical information to get her point across. “There’s virtually no improvement in results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) writing survey since 1974, and that only twenty-five percent or less of seventeen-year-olds tested are able to produce “adequate” or better analytic or persuasive writing” (61). Labor Secretary William Brock has been quoted by Driek to say that “the low-skill jobs are disappearing. While we may be making machines more ‘user-friendly,’ jobs requiring the ability to read and calculate are the one increasing most rapidly.” It seems that Zirinsky feels the need to input so much statistical information for this situation to seem more realistic. Even though I personally understand how much she knows, she should consider giving more of her own opinion about the situation rather than using so much statistical evidence.

I believe the purpose of Driek writing this article is because results are showing that “the very meaning of the word literacy is changing. In 1910 basic literacy meant being able to sign one’s same and read a simple contract…and now it is required to be able to complete everyday tasks” (61). Zirinsky wants the readers of the English Journal to be aware that “the local studies suggested to be conducted by the teacher-researcher, can help us reclaim data for ourselves in order to understand better how (and whether) NAEP data apply to us” (62).

It is obvious throughout

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