Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Survey says: Oh, what does it matter? You can’t read this anyway


“And the skies did open, and coconuts did fall in a deluge on the people of the city, and there was much rejoicing, but then someone got hit rather badly on the head, and the people shook their fists at God, and they vowed never again to eat Mounds bars.”
– from one of those books that never quite made it into the Bible

Hey, I figure since this post is about how people from Fresno aren’t very literate, it doesn’t matter if I just toss a bunch of nonsensical words up there to kick things off, right?

So prepare your eyebrows for the disparaging national survey of the week. This one declares Fresno “the 7th least literate city” in the United States. The web site 24/7 Wall Street reports that Central Connecticut State University considered several categories before awarding the honors, including weekday newspaper circulation per 100 (we’re actually not bad in that regard, with 21.04 readers per 100, the 43rd highest), percentage of adults with college degree (we have 19.1%, 7th lowest), retail bookstores per 10,000 (we’re down there at 0.74, 15th least) and median income ($40,533, 20th lowest.)

In its roundup of other Bottom 10 cities, the survey makes a big deal about the weaknesses of various library systems. For example, Aurora, Colorado is singled out for having just three branches for more than 330,000 residents.

But in a classic case of cherry-picking the data, or at least ignoring positive trends, the survey ignored the strength of the Fresno County library system, which recently persuaded a whopping 73% of voters to renew a library tax. (Perhaps we thought we were voting for Free Hot Fudge Sundae Fridays.)

Yeah, I know: Stop being so serious. You can’t get defensive about stuff like this … especially when you read further down the list and discover that Bakersfield is, ahem, spectacularly ranked on the least-literary cities list as … drum roll, please … No. 1! Nice to know we would beat out our South Valley neighbor in a read-a-thon any day.

As for the most literate city: Those honors go to Washington, D.C.

Hat tip for this item to Mike Oz, who still thinks of his former Beehivers from time to time (when he isn’t writing clever and amusing screeds for Big League Stew).

Responses to "Survey says: Oh, what does it matter? You can’t read this anyway"

Brent Moser says:

As a tried and true, die hard Fresno lover…these surveys drive me INSANE.

As Mark Twain said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”


Amy says:

Fresno is also poor. We get it. A low percentage of adults have college degrees. But guess what? We are in an agricultural region where most jobs don’t require a college degree. We also have a high proportion of residents who don’t speak or read English as a first language. Tell us something we don’t know. This survey measures a lot of factors that are reflexive. Cities that have industries requiring college-educated professionals draw those people to them. CIties that don’t have those industries don’t. Not many bookstores? Bookstores are closing everywhere. My students who like to read have Kindles. I don’t have time to browse used-book stores. Amazon is my used-book store. Poor cities need libraries and we voted again to keep ours open. As for this article–yawn.

Karen says:

Did the researchers note that just 7 years ago Washington D.C. had an education supervisor replaced because high school students scored so low on common literacy testing they couldn’t place above 6th grade reading levels? Poor districts must have improved 1000-percent in order to rate #1 now! Wow, just think about it? D.C. really must share their teaching techniques with the rest of the country if they improved students learning abilities that much! Have you noticed that the researchers hadn’t published the criteria used for their study? When I was in college, if I didn’t provide data to back up my research, it wouldn’t have been published. Theory is only heresay without facts. This article shouldn’t have been published.

Karen says:

Read Washington D.C.’s drop out rate at the above link. How they rank #1 is truly flawed.

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