"It's impossible to calculate the ultimate cost of lost productivity because people have to read things two and three times," said Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, vice chairman of the National Governors Association, which conducted the survey for the commission.
But while 70 percent of state managers said large majorities of their professional employees had adequate skills, just one-third said clerical and support staff did. The report estimates the states spend $221 million annually on remedial writing training, sometimes sending workers to $400-per-employee classes.
Throughout my life I have had many opportunities to discover how common it is for people in this country to be deficient in written and spoken English. When I went to college, I was appalled at how many of my classmates struggled with writing assignments. My freshman writing class would groan and moan when told to write a two page essay over the course of a week! I couldn't believe it! ANY high school graduate should be able to knock out a simple two page essay in less than an hour on a subject that they are familiar with. People admitted into a respected and expensive private college should have been insulted by such an easy assignment, not intimidated by it.
One of my student jobs was to act as a tutor in the college writing center. This was a word processing lab where students went to work on essays. My duties included reading over papers and helping people to use proper grammar and form. Nearly every paper I read was riddled with incorrect verb tenses, punctuation errors, misspellings and poor diction. I’m not talking about the sort of minor errors that are no doubt scattered throughout this blog. Many of the papers that I read while working there were so bad that it was difficult to figure out what the author was trying to convey.
While living in California, I have found it increasingly difficult to get by using only English. More and more I find myself switching to Spanish in order to communicate with janitors, cleaning staff, restaurant workers, car wash attendants, gardeners and other people. In addition to fixing our failing education system, we need to require immigrants to be proficient in English. Immigrants should be required to speak, read and write basic English before being issued green cards. People applying for citizenship should have to pass an English test comparable to the one I suggested for high school graduation candidates. This would accomplish the following:
- Officially endorse English as our national language and thus reinforce its importance
- Discourage those immigrants who are not interested in assimilating with our culture and building a long term future here.
- By reducing illegal immigration, class sizes in many states would be smaller and more resources would be available for teaching Standard American English to the children of tax payers rather than teaching remedial skills to illegal aliens.
Before I am declared an immigrant hating racist, keep in mind that MANY other first world nations require immigrants and/or naturalized citizens to speak their dominant languages. The U.K., Canada, Australia, are just a few examples.