National Coalition for Literacy Urges Congress to Fully Fund Adult Education in 2016

NCL 2016 Omnibus LetterThis week NCL sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to ensure that the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, now being negotiated following the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) earlier this month, includes support for adult education under Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) at least at the FY 2016 authorized level of $622 million.

Earlier this year, under the old caps imposed by sequestration, the Senate proposed funding WIOA Title II adult education programs $35 million below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, cutting Adult Basic and Literacy Education State Grants by $29 million, and Adult Education National Leadership Activities by $6 million. As we noted then, after the overwhelming bipartisan support for the passage of WIOA last year, it was disappointing to see adult education funded at levels below those authorized by that legislation. With the passage of the BBA, Congress now has the funds needed to fully support WIOA programs.

NCL is not alone in requesting that adult education under WIOA be fully funded:

  • In a letter sent to Congress on November 12th, the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce called on appropriators to “fund adult education and literacy programs under Title II of WIOA at least at authorized levels to ensure that the 36 million Americans with low basic skills are able to strengthen their educational levels in order to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities.”
  • The National Council of State Directors of Adult Education has also asked Congress to fully fund WIOA Tittle II at the authorized level, reminding appropriators that WIOA “established adult education as one of the four key programs in the workforce system because it recognized the crucial role adult education plays in educating our population, teaching English and civics, and preparing adults for occupational training, to enter the workforce, or improve their employment status…. That is why the $622 million authorized in WIOA in FY 2016 for Title II is so important.
  •  The American Association of Community Colleges has also urged Congress to increase funding for adult education in the bill, noting that “demand for these programs far outstrips supply, as tens of thousands of individuals remain on service waitlists. In FY 2013, funding for this program was slashed and has not substantially recovered.

NCL members have also been contacting with members of Congress over the last two weeks with a similar message. Appropriations subcommittees have been asked to complete their work on funding levels of their respective bill by Friday, November 20th. The goal is to have an omnibus bill completed and passed by December 11th.

It’s not too late to help! If your U.S. Senator or Representative is listed below, consider contacting his or her office this week. (You can find your Senator’s phone number here and your U.S. Representative’s phone number here.)

House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee
Representative Andrew P. Harris Maryland
Representative Barbara Lee California
Representative Chaka Fattah Pennsylvania
Representative Charles W. Dent Pennsylvania
Representative Chuck Fleischmann Tennessee
Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard California
Representative Martha Roby Alabama
Representative Michael K. Simpson Idaho
Representative Rosa L. DeLauro (Ranking Member) Connecticut
Representative Scott E. Rigell Virginia
Representative Steve Womack Arkansas
Representative Tom Cole (Chairman) Oklahoma
 

Senate Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee

Senator Bill Cassidy Louisiana
Senator Brian Schatz Hawaii
Senator Jack Reed Rhode Island
Senator James Lankford Oklahoma
Senator Jeanne Shaheen New Hampshire
Senator Jeffrey Merkley Oregon
Senator Jerry Moran Kansas
Senator Lamar Alexander Tennessee
Senator Lindsey O. Graham South Carolina
Senator Mark Steven Kirk Illinois
Senator Patty Murray (Ranking Member) Washington
Senator Richard C. Shelby Alabama
Senator Richard J. Durbin Illinois
Senator Roy Blunt (Chairman) Missouri
Senator Shelley Moore Capito West Virginia
Senator Tammy Baldwin Wisconsin
 

Appropriation Committee Chairs/Ranking Members

Senator Thad Cochran (Chair, Senate) Mississippi
Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (Ranking Member, Senate Maryland
Representative Harold Rogers (Chair, House) Kentucky
Representative Nita M. Lowey (Ranking Member, House) New York

National Coalition for Literacy Honors Literacy Leaders (Updated)

Photo of awards

The National Coalition for Literacy gathered on Capitol Hill last Thursday night to present the 2015 Literacy Leadership Awards, an annual tradition that recognizes individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to improving adult literacy in the U.S. and raising public awareness of this critical issue.

This year we were pleased to honor the Honorable Phil Roe, U.S. Representative from Tennessee, for his leadership as the Republican co-chair of the House Adult Literacy Caucus; the Honorable Michael A. Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia, for his efforts in raising awareness of adult literacy and expanding opportunities for adult learners in the city of Philadelphia; Kavitha Cardoza, Special Correspondent at WAMU, for her reporting on the adult literacy crisis facing communities across the country; and the Adult Numeracy Network (ANN), represented by board member Lynda Ginsberg, Senior Research Associate for Mathematics Education at the Center for Mathematics, Science, and Computer Education at Rutgers University. A special posthumous recognition award was presented to Mary Jane Schmitt, co-founder of ANN, who passed away earlier this year. (Read our press release.)

“I am honored to be recognized by the National Coalition for Literacy,” said Representative Roe, co-chair of the House Adult Literacy Caucus with Representative Rubén Hinojosa of Texas, who was an honoree in 2008. “Adult education is an important part of our economy, and it’s important to remember the contributions adult learners bring to our workforce and communities. I am proud to be recognized alongside individuals like Mayor Michael Nutter, Kavitha Cardoza and Mary Jane Schmitt, and I am glad our commitment to adult education extends past party lines.”

Photo:
NCL Literacy Leadership Award Honoree Rep. Phil Roe accepting his award | photo: g. martinez cabrera

Mayor Nutter delivered remarks by video. “This Literacy Leadership Award means so much to me personally,” he said, “because I’ve been an advocate for adult learners during all of my time as mayor since 2008. One of my main priorities has been to raise educational attainment for all Philadelphians, which includes adults not in school. There is clearly a direct correlation between our city’s high poverty rate and the low adult literacy rate. Helping adult learners increase their literacy skills ultimately helps them support themselves and their families.” Watch the Mayor’s full remarks below:

Cardoza told the crowd that she felt compelled to begin reporting on adult literacy when she realized that her reporting on education was incomplete without it. “You can’t talk about education in the U.S, without talking about adult education,” she said.

Photo: NCL President Jeff Carter with 2015 Literacy Leadership Award honoree Kavitha Cardoza
NCL President Jeff Carter with 2015 Literacy Leadership Award honoree Kavitha Cardoza | photo: g. martinez cabrera

Mary Jane Schmitt was involved with adult numeracy—the intersection of the adult education and mathematics education fields—for over thirty years. In 1994, she co-founded the Adult Numeracy Network (ANN). She also founded and directed the Adult Numeracy Center at TERC—a constellation of projects contributing to pioneering research and development in adult mathematics education.

linda award5
NCL board member Silja Kallenbach presents 2015 Literacy Leadership Awards to Lynda Ginsburg | photo: g. martinez cabrera

Thanks to everyone who came out to the event and to our colleagues who helped put it together. Special thanks to Gabe Martinez, who took the wonderful pictures above, and to the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on Literacy for working with Mayor Nutter on the video.

Finally, a very special thanks to the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for their support for the awards.

UPDATED: New Webinar Series for Advocates: Using PIAAC Data

(Updated 5/12/15 with webinar slides)

This two-part webinar series, Framing Effective Advocacy Messages: Using PIAAC Data, will strengthen your ability to advocate for adult education using the most recent data on U.S. adults’ skills from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Each webinar will combine a focused presentation on the research findings with a segment on effective messaging and a research-to-practice response by a local adult education advocate.

Webinar 1: Literacy, Numeracy, and Problem Solving

Friday, April 10, 2015, 3:00-4:30 pm ET

This webinar will provide a broad look at findings related to adult literacy, numeracy, and the ability to solve problems in technology-rich environments. Presenters:

  • Margaret Patterson, Research Allies for Lifelong Learning
  • Dan Rafter, Spitfire Strategies
  • Roberta Soolman, Literacy Volunteers of Massachusetts

NCL webinar 04-10-15 slides

 

Webinar 2: Health Literacy Through the PIAAC Lens

Monday, May 4, 2015, 3:00-4:15 pm ET

This webinar will focus on the connection between adults’ skills and their health and health literacy. Presenters:

  • Goodling Institute / Penn State University representative
  • Dan Rafter, Spitfire Strategies
  • Allison Kokkoros, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School

NCL_PIAAC-Health-webinar_4May2015 slides

 

Made possible through the generous support of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

National Coalition for Literacy Urges Congress to Make Adult Education a 2016 Budget Priority

NCL 2016 Budget Letter - March 2015This week NCL sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to draft a budget resolution that supports adequate funding for adult education under Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). As noted in our letter, the federal investment in adult education state grants has been steadily declining in terms of real dollars since FY 2002. Unlike many other programs, adult education state grants did not have  its sequestered funds restored in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 included a $5 million increase, but that was $26 million less than the pre-sequestration level of $595 million.

In addition, we asked that the budget resolution provide the appropriations committees with the flexibility to consider full restoration of “ability-to-benefit” under the Pell grant program.

For more details, we encourage you to read the entire letter.

The congressional budget resolution establishes overall revenue and spending totals for a given fiscal year (in this case, for fiscal year 2016). It allocates spending among major government functions, set limits on discretionary spending programs, and establishes target levels for mandatory spending.

The House and Senate Budget Committees are drafting their two respective budget resolutions this month. They are not required to follow the President’s budget, but they often use it as their starting point.