As you may recall, Stockton was once given the mantle of “most illiterate city.” And while we have missed out on this prestigious designation for the last two years, the title has remained in the Central Valley, as 2012’s most illiterate city is none other than our neighbor to the south: Bakersfield.
Central Connecticut State University just released their annual literacy rankings for 2012, and “Boomtown” Bakersfield is bringing up the rear at 76th place. Having also won this title in 2011, Bakersfield is now a back-to-back illiteracy champion. But don’t gloat too much, Stocktonians: our city checked in at 74th place.
Are there literacy problems in the Central Valley? Sure, but CCSU’s rankings do not accurately reflect whether or not people here can read. As I have written before, these rankings are deceivingly named as there is no actual measure of “literacy” included in the study’s methodology. Because CCSU uses metrics such as newspaper circulation, educational attainment, and book sales, a more apt title would be the “most well-read cities.” But even here, I have qualms with their methodology. As you may have noticed, the cities at the bottom of the list have large Hispanic populations, which calls into question whether CCSU adjusted for any Spanish publications that these groups may be more likely to purchase and read. Further, libraries and bookstores from private institutions and junior colleges appear to be omitted, meaning UOP and Delta College don’t contribute to Stockton’s ranking. There are plenty of other reasons why these ratings are misleading, which I have brought up in the past.
While the city may be unfairly hindered by CCSU’s measure of bookstores and libraries, it also appears that Stocktonians may simply prefer the internet as their main source of literature. Stockton ties with Sacramento at 35th place in CCSU’s internet metric, which measures e-book purchases and local newspaper website traffic.
Nevertheless, Bakersfield– the city whose hockey team once planned an “Our City Isn’t Bankrupt” promotion against the Thunder– shouldn’t expect any sympathy cards from Stockton over their illiteracy title. Besides, they wouldn’t be able to read them, anyways.