Former Teacher Turned Vice Principal Says America Is In A Literacy Crisis — ‘Our Children Cannot Read, They Were Not Taught That’

“I beg of you, take the tablet and the cell phones away.”

little girl pulling a book off of a shelf Przemek Klos / Shutterstock

There are increasing reports coming out of schools that students are struggling with basic reading skills. Statistics show that the ability to read is plummeting among students of all ages, and teachers are becoming more concerned.

One former teacher and administrator is very worried about what is happening—so much so that she says our nation is facing a “literacy crisis.”

One former teacher and vice principal believes that America is facing a ‘literacy crisis.’

TikTok content creator @huney_combs says in her bio that she shares “rants and random thoughts” on the app. Recently, those thoughts included her perspective as an educator on young people learning to read.

@huney_combs America is in a literacy crisis 📚!Note: This post is meant to be informative. I included mostly headlines from news articles to hopefully assist with where to start with your research. I hope this is helpful and starts a real dialogue on the state our education system. #literacy #scienceofreading #education #booktok #equity #phonics #blacktiktok #poc #america #usa #crisis ♬ original sound - 🍯

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“Okay, I am not trying to fearmonger you, but I was an assistant principal, I was a middle school teacher, and I was a high school teacher, and I need you to know America is in a literacy crisis, and they’re not making a big enough deal about it,” she stated.

“Our children cannot read, let alone writing [sic] a paragraph, let alone comprehension,” she continued. “They cannot read. They do not know how to sound words out. They were not taught that.”

“And if you’re wondering, ‘Well … why [do] my kids just keep getting passed on to the next grade?’ Because that’s what they’re doing now,” she said. “They’re not holding the children back. They’re moving them on. They’re graduating them, knowing that your child is illiterate.”

She went on to cite multiple studies and statistics that proved her point: Children are struggling to read.


Childhood literacy rates are on the decline.

While it’s unclear if America is facing a “literacy crisis,” this TikTok user’s claims about literacy rates dropping are true. The National Assessment of Educational Progress reported, “Behind the overall declines in reading and mathematics scores, you see nearly all student groups are facing academic setbacks when compared with results shortly before the pandemic.”

However, the nonprofit organization The Hechinger Report claimed that this decline occurred before the COVID-19 pandemic. “Even before the pandemic, nearly two-thirds of U.S. students were unable to read at grade level. Scores had been getting worse for several years,” they said. “The pandemic made a bad situation worse.”

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Part of the problem is that the children are not the only ones struggling.

TikTok user Laverne, known as @scholarshipcollegemama, is also an educator. Last year, she shared her opinion on why children struggled so much with literacy.

“All you teachers screaming about, ‘The kids can’t read! The kids can’t read!’ Did you stop to think that maybe their parents can’t either?” she asked.

Laverne also used data to back up her claims, citing multiple sources. And she’s right.


USA Today reported, “According to the U.S. Department of Education, nearly 130 million American adults read below a sixth-grade level. Now, consider how that number represents more than half the adult U.S. population.”

Furthermore, a Gallup and Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy study said, “This analysis finds that getting all U.S. adults to at least a Level 3 of literacy proficiency would generate an additional $2.2 trillion in annual income for the country. That is 10% of the gross domestic product.”

“You blame the parents … but the parents are struggling also,” Laverne insisted.

@mr.trayvon Replying to @designatedben 20% of US adults are functionally illiterate. There is a difference between being functionally, illiterate and being completely illiterate. Functional illiteracy is still a concern amongst adults because it hinders the ability to effectively function within the society. Reading and comprehending what you are reading, is very important at any age. #illiterate #illiteracy #functionalilliteracy #literacymatters #reading ♬ original sound - Mr. Trayvon | EduInfluencer

These statistics show that this “literacy crisis” reaches far beyond school students. Adults who have long since left the realm of education are struggling to read and losing money because of it.


Parents who don’t know how to read cannot be expected to teach their children to do so. Teachers who are frustrated with student reading rates must take this into account. The crisis is truly affecting us all.

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Mary-Faith Martinez is a writer for YourTango who covers entertainment, news, and human interest topics.