When we're confronted by statistics like "Study Finds One-Third in D.C. Illiterate" we've been conditioned to immediately blame education... but what if the real problem isn't education, but intelligence?
About one-third of the people living in the national's capital are functionally illiterate, compared with about one-fifth nationally, according to a report on the District of Columbia.
Adults are considered functionally illiterate if they have trouble doing such things as comprehending bus schedules, reading maps and filling out job applications.
It's possible that in this case the major explanation is, as the article later claims, that there are a lot of non-English-speaking immigrants in the city (that many?), but what if the real reason that American academic achievement has been dropping isn't because of a worsening education system (which we spend more and more on each year) but because Americans are getting dumber?
Anyway, here's a neat page that describes functional literacy with a few sample problems and then links to even more. Go ahead and see how you do. You might be surprised at the types of questions that the majority of Americans simply can't answer.