A retired teacher admitted to not being able to read, write or spell during his 17-year teaching career at a California high school, according to a report.

John Corcoran managed to graduate high school and college without ever learning basic skills, 10News.com reported on Monday. Teachers passed Corcoran from grade to grade and disciplinary problems helped hide his lack of skills.

He cheated in high school by turning in other students' work, earning his diploma in 1956 from Palo Verde High School in Blythe, Calif.

"I couldn't read words but I could read the system and I could read people," Corcoran said.

Corcoran continued on his cheating path through college, using friends to take tests. He graduated in 1961 with a bachelor's degree in education from Texas Western College.

Years later after nearly two decades of teaching, Corcoran gave in and learned to read through a tutor.

Corcoran, an education advocate, is the author of two books, "The Teacher Who Couldn't Read" and "Bridge to Literacy."

"I believe that illiteracy in America is a form of child neglect and child abuse and the child is blamed and they carry the shame; if we just teach our people how to read we'd give them a fair chance," Corcoran said.

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