National Coalition for Literacy Supporting Policy and Advocacy Strand at COABE 2015

The National Coalition for Literacy is pleased to once again partner with the Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE) on the Public Policy Advocacy Strand at the 2015 COABE Conference in Denver Colorado, April 21-24, 2015.

This year’s presentations and panels include:

Adult Education or Developmental Education? Issues in Moving Career Pathways forward under WIOA
WIOA has created an environment that encourages Adult Education and Community Colleges to work together. Many adult education programs and community colleges provide programs that successfully transition students to college and employment. Such transitions were given further support recently with the restoration of financial aid eligibility for adults without high school diplomas, under a rule known as “ability to benefit” (ATB), provided they are enrolled in a career pathway program. How can adult education programs and community college’s work together to help all students succeed? What are the challenges? What types of reform are occurring in higher education? Join us to find out.


  • Jim Hermes, Associate Vice President of Government Relations, American Association of Community Colleges
  • Jennifer Foster, Senior Director, Community College Board, Illinois
  • Reecie Stagnolia, Vice President for Adult Education, KY Council on Postsecondary Education
  • Casey Sacks, Ph.D., Grant Project Manager, Colorado Community College System

All Politics Are Local—Begin Advocacy Now
Adult education nonprofits, colleges, and often state agencies shy away from” advocacy.” This session will help a center put together an education plan that does not “lobby” but does educate your local elected officials for a long-term appreciation of adult education.

Presenter: Paulette Church, Fort Lewis College

Immigration Measures and their Potential Impact on the Adult Education System
From the DACA program for unauthorized immigrants who came to the US as children, to broader immigration executive actions by the President and bills before Congress, impacts of current and potential immigration measures on the adult education system are many. This session will provide a review of these measures and their likely impacts on adult education, ESOL, and community college programs that serve immigrants with diverse educational needs and goals.


  • Margie McHugh, Director National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, Migration Policy Institute
  • Jill Casner Lotto, Director, Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education

Champions of Advocacy: A 50 year perspective of adult education and workforce development
Session will provide background of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Activities to put advocacy practice into action will be presented. Valuable strategies and examples of national advocacy efforts will be highlighted.

Presenter: Marie Steinbacher, Shippensburg University and PAACE

Issues and Opportunities in Implementing WIOA
Join Adult Education State Directors to explore the issues and opportunities with the new legislation that provides for adult education: the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Adult Education State Directors from a variety of state offices will share issues and opportunities they see as they work to fully implement the new legislation by July 1, 2016.


  • Brad Deeds, Adult Education Director & State GED Administrator, Nevada Department of Education
  • Art Ellison, Administrator, Bureau of Adult Education, New Hampshire Department of Education
  • Jennifer Foster, Senior Director, Community College Board, Illinois
  • Margaret Kirkpatrick, State Director, Adult Education and Family Literacy Services, Center for at-Risk Education
  • Reecie Stagnolia, Vice President for Adult Education, KY Council on Postsecondary Education
  • Patricia H. Tyler, Director of Adult Education and Literacy Services Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation

The strand will also feature presentations by senior staff at the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education, including a keynote address from Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin.

For schedule details, and to register for COABE, visit:

NCL Joins With NDD United to Advocate for Eliminating Sequestration

In 2013, the Bipartisan Budget Act negotiated by Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) provided partial, temporary relief from sequestration. Unfortunately full sequestration is due to return in 2016. In response, NDD United, an alliance of organizations working together to protect nondefense discretionary funding, has renewed its efforts to bring an end to sequestration.

On February 18th, the National Coalition for Literacy joined more than 2,100 nondefense discretionary (NDD) United organizations to urge Congress and President Obama to work together to end sequestration. This letter, co-signed by NCL, emphasizes (1) the importance of NDD programs, (2) the harmful effects of budget cuts to date, and (3) the equal importance of both defense and nondefense programs in America’s security at home and abroad, and thus the need for equal sequestration relief.

Cuts to date have had significant impacts on the lives of Americans as demonstrated in NDD United’s 2013 report “Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Make Us Sicker, Poorer, and Less Secure.”

“Unless theses restraints on federal spending are loosened, it’s unlikely that even the marginal funding  increases authorized by the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) will ever see the light of day,” notes Jeff Carter, President of the National Coalition for Literacy.

Deficit reduction measures enacted since 2010 have come overwhelmingly from spending cuts. So far, Congress and the President have been unable to agree on a plan to replace the damaging cuts. As work begins on the 2016 budget, NCL will continue to press the Congress and the President to eliminate or replace sequestration.

Report Release: Making Skills Everyone’s Business

making-skills-coverData from PIAAC (the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies), released in 2013, found that 36 million Americans have low literacy skills, including nearly 24 million who are part of the workforce. In addition, nearly 46 million Americans struggle with numeracy. To address the need to connect more low-skilled adults with learning opportunities, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) at the U.S. Department of Education has released a new report, Making Skills Everyone’s Business: A Call to Transform Adult Learning in the United States. The National Coalition for Literacy contributed extensive feedback to OCTAE during the making of this report.

OCTAE has also produced a recorded video announcement about the report from Acting Assistant Secretary Johan E. Uvin. See also this post, co-authored by Assistant Secretary Uvin and U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell: “The Importance of Transforming Adult Learning.”

According to OCTAE, Making Skills Everyone’s Business offers seven strategies, “grounded in evidence and informed by effective and emerging practices,” that hold promise for “improving the conditions that create and perpetuate poor literacy, numeracy, and problem solving.”

NCL is planning a series of webinars in the coming months (dates and registration information to be announced soon) that will be looking at using the PIAAC data to support adult education advocacy, including discussion of the strategies outlined in this report. In meantime, we urge you to visit our PIAAC resource section.

National Coalition for Literacy Submits Immigration Policy Principles to the White House Task Force on New Americans

Last week, the National Coalition for Literacy submitted its immigration policy principles to the White House Task Force on New Americans, a new inter-agency group created by Presidential Memorandum in November of 2014.

NCL recommendations regarding immigration reform emphasize:

  • Leveraging the existing Adult Education and Family Literacy system, provided by Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
  • Increasing resources to that system: the infrastructure of the system can handle the increase in services but it needs new resources to address the demand that will inevitably result from executive or legislative action on immigration
  • Wrap-around services: successful adult education programs working with immigrants should also have the resources to provide wrap‐around services,  such as child care, transportation, and other wrap‐around services
  • The importance of basing any English language proficiency requirement on research and evidence‐based practice
  • Using and expanding family literacy or two-generation program models: a two‐generation approach is a short‐term solution in the path to learn English and a long‐term solution in the success of the next generation.