Study Says Dallas Am Not Be Very Literate

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Via Threadless
Don't get defensive. That's just what Dr. John W. Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University, says in the seventh-annual report America's Most Literate Cities 2010 released today. Yet again, when ranking the 75 top-population cities in the U.S., Miller looked at six "key indicators of literacy," including the newspaper numbers tallied by the Audit Bureau of Circulation; the number of listed-in-the-Yellow Pages bookstores dealing in new, used and rare (but not "adult") product; library resources per capita; the percentage of residents with high school and college degrees; and "periodical publishing resources." Guess which two categories really dragged down Dallas, which shows up in the bottom half of the pack.

USA Today, which got the first glance at the study, found an urban planner who said, look, people aren't reading less. It's actually that "people are reading more things and less in depth. They're getting briefed," according to UNLV's Robert Lang. "The bigger finding [is] what's consumed is different."

Nevertheless, out of the Top 75, Dallas ranks 44 -- between Albuquerque and Sacramento, and a number that's actually up four spots from last year's ranking. And that's better than Fort Worth and Plano and Arlington (which comes in near the bottom, at 71, just above El Paso). Austin, surprise surprise, is the No. 1 city in Texas, coming in at No. 21.

Here's how we rate for each individual category:

Bookstores (per 10,000 population): 46

Education Level (which is based on the percentage of the adult population with a high school diploma or higher and the percentage of the adult population with a bachelor's degree): 58

Internet Resources (based upon number of internet book orders per capita, number of unique visitors per capita to a city's internet version newspaper, and number of webpage views per capita to a city's internet version newspaper): 16.5

Libraries (based upon number of branch libraries per 10,000 library service population; volumes held in the library per capita of library service population; number of circulations per capita of library service population; number of library professional staff per 10,000 library service population): 31

Newspapers (based upon weekday circulation and Sunday circulation): 47

Periodical Publishers (based upon number of magazine publishers with circulation over 2,500 per 100,000 population and number of journals published with circulation over 500 per 100,000 population): 37.5

From the overview, there is this bright note about Plano, though:
US Better Educated but No Longer World Leader

According to Miller, "It's true that Americans are somewhat better educated now than they were at the outset of this survey. In 2004, we noted that on average, roughly 26 percent of the population of our largest cities possessed a college degree or higher. Now, that number is over 30 percent. But at the same time, America has continued to decline as the world's college-educated leader: the US currently ranks 12th place among 36 developed nations, according to a recent report by the College Board.3 Other nations are passing us by."

In response to this decline, President Obama has set a goal for at least 55 percent of the population to have a college degree by 2020. How far we have to go is demonstrated by the fact that, at this point, among our largest cities only Seattle reaches Obama's goal (at 56 percent), and only Plano, TX, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Raleigh, NC, Atlanta, and Boston are even relatively close. Cities such as Detroit, Toledo, Santa Ana, and Newark barely reach double digits and are especially in need of focused efforts. While suburbs tend to be the haven of college graduates, core cities are in real trouble and lag far behind.
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19 comments
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Julia
Julia

I agree that the way this was calculated is outdated and lame. Using online book sales through Amazon, Ebay, Half-Price Books, etc. plus Kindle sales would be more accurate. Who goes to a real bookstore anymore?!

Buckeye
Buckeye

Yeah, well I'd still rather be a Texan than a Connecticutian. It's such a small, wimpy state.

Bill Lumbergh
Bill Lumbergh

Using Dallas' newspaper circulation is a bit unfair. It isn't the surrounding community's fault that its newspaper sucks so hard. (Well maybe it is, but measuring literacy based on such a bad daily is unfair to Dallas' actual aptitude.)

Ed D.
Ed D.

So the Half Price Books mothership counts the same as some strip-mall hole in the wall with a few hundred romance novels and a shelf of cast off Dan Brown and Tom Clancy novels? Ranking on quantity instead of quality may be easier, but it's bad science.

Hilllbillle
Hilllbillle

i went to school in a li'l arkansas hick town. moved to dallas in my junior year of high school i turned pothead(daily stoned in school, which (rl turner carrollton) was where i learned to smoke)), got a part time night job, caught up on my sleep in class. as a result of all this, my grades went up and i graduated early. i guess texas' better education made the schools easier, 'cause sleepy an' stoned prob'ly didn't make me a better student.

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

So, I'm 54, and old so there's that. I see the methodology. I think purchases of books is a fair measure of literacy. It's interesting st. Louis is higher on that list. Maybe the universities there. I'm part of the problem I know. I love bookstores, but enjoy the price and convenience of online and used purchases. That practice is killing brick and mortars. I miss stores like the old Shakespeare and Company and the one at Mockingbird and Central. Can't remember the name.

luniz
luniz

I wonder if changing the bookstores category from total number of stores to total number of purchases from bookstores would change Dallas' ranking.

MattL1
MattL1

Is it good or bad for our cause that I had a considerable amount of trouble understanding the headline?

space2k
space2k

Perhaps our citizens would read more if our journalists stopped cut-and-pasting every silly city ranking list that gets a press release. Then again, my awareness of Central Connecticut State University has been raised considerably.

Bigjondaniel
Bigjondaniel

While I do agree that Dallas is a city with no intellectual core, The professor's methodology would be best suited to measure literacy among those 60 and older

Guest
Guest

I have four college degrees. That doesn't mean I'm literate.

LaceyB
LaceyB

I have two degrees myself. The business world doesn't consider that enough to be a secretary (one is in business admin). I'm staring down the possibility of a 3rd degree. Whether that will prove I'm literate to society or not has yet to be, well, proven.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

Sounds like the Connecticut professor is living in the past. Yellow pages? Book stores? Newspapers? Guess he doesn't understand how the interwebs have changed the habits of people this past decade. Just ask Jim Moroney.

East Dallas Mark
East Dallas Mark

"Internet Resources (based upon number of internet book orders per capita, number of unique visitors per capita to a city's internet version newspaper, and number of webpage views per capita to a city's internet version newspaper): 16.5"

I suspect if Internet Resources had received a greater weight (to reflect how the interwebs have changed peoples' habits), the Dallas score would have been even worse.

Tom L (No, Not That L)
Tom L (No, Not That L)

I was about to say almost the same exact thing. Someone should let all those texting teens know they're illiterate.

Gabe
Gabe

Us fail English? That unpossible!

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