February 7, 2021
A while back, I read something shocking: prisons use statistical data on third-grade reading levels to predict how many prison beds they need.
It seemed like one of those facts that's shocking due to not being well-known and revealing an ugly truth. Turns out I was wrong on both counts: it's a common political talking point, and it isn't true. But the article points out there's still a large connection between being able to read and dropping out or ending up in jail. So reading's importance can't just be ignored.
I write this both as a bookworm and as a cynic. As the latter, I know people will say "that specific connection is false, so we can ignore reading and education altogether!" It's using language that sounds critical to disguise support of inequality and privilege.
Language can be a bitch that way. It can slip by so many people yet drive society in so many different directions.