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'Illiteracy: Slide Continues'

June 30, 1985

My compliments to Marita Hernandez for her fine article.

Yes, unfortunately, the "slide" does continue. In the late 1940s I was care-and-treatment captain of the Los Angeles County Jail. A well-educated inmate librarian at Wayside Honor Rancho noticed a young inmate checking out five books. The titles ranged from a nondescript novel to one on organic chemistry. Wisely, the librarian said nothing to the young man, but after hours he went to his barracks. There he found the lad studiously trying to read the novel.

"How long have you known that you cannot read?"

Startled by his own sudden answer, "All of my life," the young man confided that this was the first time that he had ever told anyone that he could not read. (Like Paul in your article.)

It was reported to me. I called Dr. Grace Fernald at UCLA for guidance. She suggested I bring the lad to her for evaluation. With proper court papers of course. She did a complete work-up. He had graduated from a local high school, married, had a small son. He kept losing jobs because he kept trying to bluff his way through life. He was in jail for burglary. My last account of him was that he had learned both to read and to discuss his dyslexia, he held a job and stayed out of jail. Dr. Grace Fernald went on to found the Fernald Learning Disabilities Laboratory and Clinic at UCLA.

Again, Marita Hernandez, congratulations on writing the fine article. I am certain that in some measure it will help keep the "slide" from continuing.

HAROLD L. STALLINGS

Rancho Palos Verdes

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