Report: More than 50,000 Nashvillians can’t read

Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 6:22pm

Mayor Karl Dean announced Wednesday that he would work to find the "appropriate agency" to coordinate adult-education efforts in the city.

The mayor's announcement came with the release of a Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce study. The report highlighted the still-pervasive problem of an under-educated work force, which still includes tens of thousands of people who are functionally illiterate.

The assessment found that the number of non-English Language Learner adults in Metropolitan Nashville who cannot read or are without a high school diploma remains significant, with an estimated 63,053 adults 25 and older without a high school education; an estimated 52,000 Nashvillians 16 and older unable to read; and an estimated 38,499 residents over the age of 5 speaking English "less than very well."

While traditionally seen as a moral issue, the number of under-educated adults could lead to a labor shortage — making the problem an economic one.

The Chamber of Commerce projects that the 10-county Nashville region will have a cumulative shortage of 22,874 workers through 2017, or an excess average of 2,287 new jobs without qualified workers each year.

“While our current educational and employment pipeline will supply most of our future work force needs, it will not be enough,” said Marc Hill, chief education officer for the chamber. “A focus on adult education will help address this gap in qualified workers.”

The chamber study noted that while there are many providers of adult education in Metro, their efforts are not coordinated, leading to some areas where help is most needed — southeast Nashville, for example — being underserved, since most of the agencies are centered in the downtown core.

Because Nashville is the economic driver for most of Middle Tennessee, Dean said he will work with leaders in surrounding counties to make the commitment to better adult education a regional effort.

16 Comments on this post:

By: richgoose on 4/14/10 at 5:50

I knew that there was a huge underclass out there in Davidson County but I was not aware that so many of them could not read. I bet they know how to vote themselves some of my money however.

By: WickedTribe on 4/14/10 at 9:34

I was wondering why they marked Republican on ballots. Illiteracy explains it.

By: dargent7 on 4/15/10 at 4:35

But they can sure type. They post every day the same gibberish and garbage at The Tennessean's LTE's board.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/15/10 at 7:39

so all poorly educated people are crooks, richgoose? you're a real piece of work.

By: JeffF on 4/15/10 at 8:17

The uneducated are the target labor market for the tourism/hospitality industry. If everyone can read who would consider taking the banquet server positions and housemaids positions for the slave wages the overlords in this industry want to pay?

Yes Nashville, that is your government and your tax wages going to support that industry.

By: Communitycarl on 4/15/10 at 8:38

Last Spring administration of the Metro Community Education program was removed from MNPS by the Metro Council because of mismanagement on the part of MNPS administrators. A task force was created by the Metro Council to restructure the Community Education program and set it up under its own governance system. Finally, a Community Education Commission was established on Nov. 1, 2009. To say that this commission has run into hurdle after hurdle is an understatement. MNPS administration has representation on the 7 member Community Ed. Commission board that continues to exert a negative impact on the program.. Financial and payroll procedures historically handled by MNPS were suspended before replacement procedures could be put in place. There has been no accountability to the 7 Community Ed. staff persons as to revenue recieved or dispersed out of Community Education site accounts. Community Education site coordinators have been told not to use any MNPS equipment (such as computer labs, sewing machines, shop equipment, etc. ) to support the adult classes. At the last CE Commission meeting, boardmembers and staff were informed that a "Memo of Understanding" to allow use of MNPS building facilities would not be forthcoming for future terms unless Community Education agreed to furnish "armed security guards" at $40.50 per hour w/4 hour minimum at any site any time Community and Adult classes were held......Bottom line: there is no way revenue generated by class tuition fees can cover this addtional expense....and MNPS administrators know it.

Last Spring, MNPS Board Chair, David Fox, publicly apologized to the 7 Community Education staff persons for the "Inhumane treatment" they suffered from MNPS administrators. Unfortunately, for the past year, under the guise of civility, an ongoing and systematic process has been occuring whereby all the resources needed for the Matro Nashville Community and Adult Education program to be successful have been removed from the dedicated Community education staff of 7. It is a miracle that the staff of Community Education was able to offer any classes at all for the current Spring term considering the hostile and adverse environment they have been subjected to.

This writer cannot help but to wonder what the true agenda of MNPS administration and certain Metro Government officals is regarding the continued existence of this wonderful program that has historically served the life-long learning needs of thousands of area citizens. Very interesting.........

By: on 4/15/10 at 8:53

Why are these people illiterate? Are they from other countries? Did they not take advantage of the educational opportunities our country provides for every child? We have a system in place to provide education for people, and a very expensive one, at that. In this day and age, there is no reason for anyone who has grown up in this country, to not at least be able to read. How did they get throgh school? Even if they dropped out of HS, they should still be able to read. Now, the taxpayers have to foot the bill to educate them in adulthood. We've already paid for their education, and they didn't apply themselves. Now we have to take care of them and pay againg for them to be re-educated. Where does this all end?

By: Communitycarl on 4/15/10 at 9:04

Just in case you missed my point above, "such an agency" as the Mayor says he is seeking to identify does exist: Metro Nashville Community Education. However,
no high profile person seems willing to advocate for the resources this program needs to be successful, and in fact, certain MNPS administrators seem to be methodically hampering its growth and success.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/15/10 at 9:14

stlgtr, they got through school because they got a passing grade they didn't deserve. or perhaps they dropped out.

By: TITAN1 on 4/15/10 at 12:02

frank/richgoose, you are nothing but a repulsive blowhard. Jeff, it's obvious you hate tourism so why do you continue to live in a tourists city? You couldn't find Mayberry?

By: NewYorker1 on 4/15/10 at 12:45

Ok you all, today I am wearing A Fendi shirt, Gucci slacks, and Armani shoes. Sun glasses, Louis Vuitton baby. FABULOUS!

By: richgoose on 4/15/10 at 2:10


I should be offended by your statements. I am however like Elin Nordgren. I am numb from all the hurt that has been done to me. My heart and my mind are so enriched by the "good life" that I can find no room for anger towards people like you. I know that you are only venting opinions that like mine benefit your lifestyle and hopes.

BLANKET NAZI......My post said nothing about poor people being crooked unless of course you count poor people voting as a crime.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/15/10 at 2:24

By: richgoose on 4/14/10 at 6:50
I knew that there was a huge underclass out there in Davidson County but I was not aware that so many of them could not read. I bet they know how to vote themselves some of my money however.

pardon me - you inferred that all of them are freeloaders. my bad.

By: richgoose on 4/15/10 at 2:42


I appreciate your knowing the difference between crooks and people who vote themselves benefits.

By the way this is an opinion board and your opinion is considered by me to be just as important as mine or anyone else.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/15/10 at 2:50

i didn't say it wasn't.

you're still a piece of work.

By: richgoose on 4/15/10 at 5:00


As one piece of work to another. We have different lifestyles!