In the 1930s and early 1940s, Alan Lomax and his father, folklorist John A. Lomax, helped to develop the Library of Congress’ Archive of American Folk Song as a major national resource, recording thousands of songs and oral histories in their original settings. Alan presented Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Josh White, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, and many others to national audiences on radio, and in concerts, records, and books, promoting their careers and contributing to the folk song movement of the period.
Billy Crystal received the 2007 Mark Twain Prize for Humor at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.
Study Links Drop in Test Scores to a Decline in Time Spent Reading
By MOTOKO RICH
NYTimes November 19, 2007
Americans appear to be reading less for fun, and as that happens, their reading test scores are declining, according to a new report by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The National Endowment for the Arts To Read or Not To Read gathers statistics from more than 40 studies on the reading habits and skills of children, teenagers, and adults. The compendium reveals recent declines in voluntary reading and test scores alike, exposing trends that have severe consequences for American society.
Among the key findings:
Americans are reading less - teens and young adults read less often and for shorter amounts of time compared with other age groups and with Americans of previous years.
* Less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers, a 14 percent decline from 20 years earlier. Among 17-year-olds, the percentage of non-readers doubled over a 20-year period, from nine percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004.
* On average, Americans ages 15 to 24 spend almost two hours a day watching TV, and only seven minutes of their daily leisure time on reading.
Americans are reading less well – reading scores continue to worsen, especially among teenagers and young males. By contrast, the average reading score of 9-year-olds has improved.
* Reading scores for 12th-grade readers fell significantly from 1992 to 2005, with the sharpest declines among lower-level readers.
* 2005 reading scores for male 12th-graders are 13 points lower than for female 12th-graders, and that gender gap has widened since 1992.
* Reading scores for American adults of almost all education levels have deteriorated, notably among the best-educated groups. From 1992 to 2003, the percentage of adults with graduate school experience who were rated proficient in prose reading dropped by 10 points, a 20 percent rate of decline.
The declines in reading have civic, social, and economic implications – Advanced readers accrue personal, professional, and social advantages. Deficient readers run higher risks of failure in all three areas.
* Nearly two-thirds of employers ranked reading comprehension "very important" for high school graduates. Yet 38 percent consider most high school graduates deficient in this basic skill.6
* American 15-year-olds ranked fifteenth in average reading scores for 31 industrialized nations, behind Poland, Korea, France, and Canada, among others.
* Literary readers are more likely than non-readers to engage in positive civic and individual activities – such as volunteering, attending sports or cultural events, and exercising.
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