we know that if you’re taking the time to read blogs about literacy then you are probably as passionate as we are about all things reading and writing. which is why we feel it’s important to advocate for literacy for all whenever we get the chance. right now is one of those times.
while our days are spent working with school age readers and writers, we are also involved in working with adult learners who cannot read and write. this vulnerable population includes those learners who may have struggled with reading and writing in school and never mastered these skills or those who are learning to speak, read and write english as their second language. most recently, we have worked with sufa, a fifty five year old grandmother from iran who moved to the united states with her husband to be closer to her daughters and desperately wants to be able to read books to her grandchildren. we’ve worked with miguel, who wants to be able to take his citizenship test and susan, who needs to able to read the letters that come home from her children’s school.
whatever the reason is for their struggle, illiterate adults face enormous hurdles in life that range from not being able to read with their own son or daughter to not being able to fill out job applications. reading and writing are powerful tools. remember, slaves were prohibited from learning to read because to read was to possess the power of knowledge. everyone deserves to have that power. organizations such as literacy volunteers of america help provide tutoring so that the power of reading is available to all.
currently, the fiscal year 2018 house and senate bills include level funding for adult education. however, the current administration’s 2018 budget proposal includes dramatic cuts to adult education funding and the complete elimination of many federal programs that support adult literacy, workforce development, and human services.
in fact, the department of education is facing an overall cut of $9 billion (13%), including a $95 million cut (16%) to adult education and family literacy state grants.
it’s critical that we continue to remind legislators to support funding for adult education. with the house in recess for the month and the senate finishing up soon, august is traditionally a time when representatives and senators are back in their home states holding town hall meetings, working in their home offices, and meeting with their constituents. now is the perfect time to reach out by writing to your senators and representatives to let them know that literacy for all is important to you.
please reach out to your elected officials now to advocate for funding for programs that support adult education.
we’re sending letters to our state representatives to let them know how we feel about literacy. below is a copy of a letter that you might choose to personalize and send to your senators and representatives to let them know how you feel.
Dear Senator _________/ Rep. ______________
I am writing as a constituent and strong advocate of literacy. ADD A SENTENCE OR TWO ON WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU DO.
Adult Education programs are in crisis. Demand for classes exceeds supply in virtually every state. Federal spending on adult education has declined by 25 percent in real terms since 2002, and the number of students served has declined from 2.7 million to 1.6 million. I urge you to support the funding of Adult Education programs at a minimum of $596 million, although we need the $635 million authorized in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) if that important piece of legislation is to succeed.
Adult Education provides a path from low-income jobs and dead-end futures to family-sustaining jobs and postsecondary education. In an increasingly competitive world we must empower individuals, families, and communities with the educational opportunities they need to harness the talents of millions of Americans who cannot read well enough to thrive in the economy, perform basic math, use a computer, or solve problems creatively.
- Estimates are that we can save to $1.4 billion per year in reduced costs from crime if the high school completion rate increased by just 1 percent for all men aged 20 to 60.
- By neglecting the adults who need services, we also affect their kids. Almost 60 percent of children whose parents lack a college education live in low-income families. These children are less likely themselves to get a good education and secure family-sustaining jobs. Mothers and fathers who improve their basic skills are better equipped to help their children succeed.
- Research shows that 100 hours or more of Adult Education attendance equates to $9,620 in extra earnings per year.
At current funding levels, programs cannot meet the needs of our nation’s changing demographics. The share of high school graduates going directly into college is declining. Adult Education programs are the on-ramp to job training and postsecondary education for many low-skilled adults. However, at today’s funding level, the system serves only 60 percent of the number served in 2001, and only five percent of the eligible students nationwide. If we are to remain globally competitive, we must invest in our adult education system.
Thank you for your support.