International Literacy Day is September 8

The United Nations’ International Literacy Day is observed each year on September 8. The day recognizes the centrality of literacy to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals; per the UN website, it “is an opportunity for Governments, civil society and stakeholders to highlight improvements in world literacy rates, and reflect on the world’s remaining literacy challenges.”

The theme for this year’s International Literacy Day is “Literacy and Skills Development.” For more information, visit the UN website at https://www.un.org/en/events/literacyday/index.shtml.

Announcement: The 2018 Literacy Leadership Awards

It is our pleasure to announce the recipients of the NCL Literacy Leadership Awards for 2018. In addition to the Literacy Leadership Awards, this year the NCL Board will be making the inaugural Barbara Bush Lifetime Achievement in Adult Literacy Award. This new award is intended to recognize an individual who has made significant contributions as an advocate for adult literacy over a full professional career.
1. The inaugural Barbara Bush Lifetime Achievement in Adult Literacy Award: Gail Spangenberg

Gail Spangenberg has been a consistent and influential voice in support of educational opportunity for low-skilled adults for decades. Her focus has consistently been the expansion and improvement of policies and programs that allow these adults to develop the literacy and workplace skills necessary to support their families, promote their children’s education, and participate effectively in civic and community life.

2. Literacy Leadership Award: Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
The award recognizes the Senator for her longtime support of education at all levels, and particularly for her work on the recent reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. Her advocacy for the inclusion of tribes and tribal organizations opens the path to educational opportunity for youth and adults from these key populations of adult learners.
3. Literacy Leadership Award: National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy (Migration Policy Institute)
The award recognizes the Center, and its director, Margie McHugh, for its ongoing advocacy for education quality and access for adults who are immigrants and refugees.
4. Literacy Leadership Award: Student Ambassador Program
The award recognizes the program, developed by the staff at Pima Community College led by Regina Suitt, for its many years of success in both conducting advocacy for adult education and enabling adult learners to develop confidence in themselves and in their skills as advocates. That success, and the quality and value of the program, have led to its growth to national scale through the COABE Student Ambassador Training in the past year.
5. Literacy Leadership Award: Jeff Carter
The award recognizes Jeff’s long and effective career as an advocate for adult literacy and adult education, culminating in the presidency of the Committee for Education Funding.
The 2018 Literacy Leadership Awards will be presented to honorees at a formal event on Capitol Hill during Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. The event will take place on Tuesday, September 25, 2018, 4:00-6:00 PM, in the Cannon House Office Building, Room 340. This event is free and open to the public; you are welcome to attend. Those who plan to attend should RSVP to gabrielacastellanos@mckeongrp.com.
Please feel free to share this announcement with colleagues who may be interested.
Our congratulations to all of the 2018 honorees!

NCL Takes Action on Proposed 2020 Census Citizenship Question

The U.S. Department of Commerce has indicated that it plans to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census. The NCL and its member organizations are deeply concerned about the effects that the addition of this question may have on the accuracy of the Census, particularly with regard to refugee and immigrant populations, and therefore on the availability of federal resources for programs that serve those populations.

In response, the NCL has taken action in two ways.

1. Signing on to amicus briefs filed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in legal cases on the issue: New York v. Commerce, California v. Ross, and City of San Jose and Black Alliance for Just Immigration v. Ross. For more information, including the text of the briefs and lists of those signing on, see the press releases issued by the Leadership Conference:

2. Submitting a comment in response to the public comment invitation in the Federal Register

The text of the NCL’s comment is reproduced below. For more information and guidance on submitting a comment of your own, visit the website of The Census Project. Note that the deadline for submitting a comment is August 7.

 

_________________

NCL comment on 2020 Census, submitted 25 July 2018

 

Jennifer Jessup
Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer
U.S. Department of Commerce
Room 6616
14th and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20230

The National Coalition for Literacy (NCL) is submitting this response to the comment request on the 2020 Census posted by the Department of Commerce in the Federal Register on June 8, 2018.

The NCL is a national coalition of the leading national and regional organizations dedicated to advancing adult education, family literacy, and English language acquisition in the United States. We envision a society where all adults are able to fulfill their potential and achieve their goals through access to high quality adult education and literacy services provided by an integrated and well-developed system.

As educators, we strongly urge the Commerce Department to remove the citizenship question from the 2020 Census form. Including this question will undermine the quality and accuracy of the Census in every community, because households will be afraid to participate, as demonstrated by preliminary evidence from Census test administrators in Rhode Island. Many administrators reported that residents refused to provide personal information because of the decision to ask about citizenship status, despite the question not being part of that test.[1]

Including the citizenship question is therefore likely to put the Census at risk of a significant undercount, especially among hard-to-reach population groups that are already fearful of answering government surveys, according to the Bureau’s own research.[2] These groups include immigrants with legal status and naturalized U.S. citizens, as well as minorities and individuals with lower educational attainment.

We include the two references cited in footnotes 1 and 2 for the benefit of the Department of Commerce in reviewing these comments. We direct the Commerce Department to each of the items cited, and ask that they, along with the full text of these comments, be considered part of the formal administrative record on this proposed rule for purposes of the Administrative Procedures Act.

Throughout our work in the adult education field, we have seen the potential of education and literacy to improve individuals’ lives, break cycles of intergenerational poverty, and empower individuals to contribute actively to their communities. Adult education services—which rely on accurate Census data to apportion resources—provide the foundation for adult immigrants and refugees to learn English and become naturalized citizens, and for these and other adults with low levels of educational attainment to earn high school diplomas/equivalents, prepare for postsecondary education, support their children’s educational and developmental success, and lift their families out of poverty.

The U.S. adult education system provides these services with extremely limited resources; as a result, it is only able to provide services to a fraction of the millions who would benefit from them. The primary source of federal funding for adult education is through Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. A Census undercount would likely result in a reduced and/or inequitable allocation of federal funds provided to states through WIOA. This is especially troubling because the communities most likely to be undercounted if the citizenship question is included—those with heavy concentrations of immigrant families—are among those most likely to benefit from adult education services. Therefore, the National Coalition for Literacy strongly urges the Commerce Department to reverse its decision to include the citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

 

[1] U.S. Census Bureau. (2017). Respondent Confidentiality Concerns and Possible Effects on Response Rates and Data Quality for the 2020 Census. National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations Fall Meeting, November 2, 2017. https://www2.census.gov/cac/nac/meetings/2017-11/Meyers-NAC-Confidentiality-Presentation.pdf

[2] U.S. Census Bureau. (2017). Strategic framework for messaging in the American Community Survey mailing materials. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/working-papers/2017/acs/2017_Oliver_01.pdf.

Nominations Open for 2018 Literacy Leadership Awards

The National Coalition for Literacy is seeking nominations for its annual Literacy Leadership Awards. These awards recognize individuals and organizations whose contributions to the field of adult education and literacy are national in scope or have national significance.

Nominees may be public policy advocates or policy makers, elected officials (particularly Members of Congress), program administrators, instructors (paid or volunteer), financial supporters, business leaders, partners, or students. The NCL Board is particularly interested in receiving nominations in the category of Emerging Voice for Adult Literacy, added this year. Federal agencies and private sector programs are also eligible, as are state and local initiatives that have received notable national attention or been widely recognized as models for the field. For information on previous award recipients, visit national-coalition-literacy.org/literacy-leadership-awards/

The NCL Board anticipates making approximately four Literacy Leadership awards for 2018. In addition, the Board has designated a special award category this year, the Barbara Bush Lifetime Achievement in Adult Literacy Award.

The NCL Board will accept nominations from individuals and organizations with an interest in the field of adult literacy. Each nominator may make no more than one nomination.

Nomination forms ((available here)) are due by August 20 to Michele Diecuch: mdiecuch@proliteracy.org. Award winners will be notified by August 27, and the awards event will be held on Capitol Hill during the last week of September 2018 (Adult Education and Family Literacy Week). As needed and by request, assistance may be available to offset awardees’ cost of travel to Washington, DC.