Welcome to Adult Education and Family Literacy week! To help launch the week, the National Coalition for Literacy is pleased to announce two new messaging pieces that can be customized for direct service providers, prospective donors, and policy makers and distributed for AEFL Week:
This month, Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) will introduce, for the seventh year in a row, a House resolution designating the week of September 21st, 2015 as National Adult Education and Family Literacy (AEFL) Week! In addition, for thefifth year in a row, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will introduce a Senate resolution that also recognizes this important honorary week.
In past years, states and communities have followed this national leadership, establishing state and local resolutions to honor the importance and impact of adult education. It ultimately serves to leverage local partnerships, resources, and funding for adult education and family literacy nationwide.
The good news is that we will not need a minimum number of co-sponsors to move either resolution forward. However, it’s important to show strong, bipartisan support for our issue by having Representatives and Senators stand behind the commemoration of this week. It’s too late to add more sponsors to the Senate resolution (they expect to introduce it before the end of this week), but not too late to ask your Representative in the House to co-sponsor the House resolution.
Message: Please sponsor the resolution for National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week 2015! To support this resolution, they should contact Bo Morris (Bo.Morris@mail.house.gov) in Representative Polis’ office to sign on in support by September 18th.
Last Friday, I was invited to represent both Digital Promise and the National Coalition for Literacy at the White House Upskill Summit,joining 150 employers, labor leaders, foundations, non-profits, educators and tech innovators from across the U.S. to share ideas and strategies for equipping workers with the skills they need to advance into better jobs. Much of the discussion focused on “frontline workers” — those workers who deal directly with customers or who are directly involved in the most visible functions of a business, and who are often at the bottom of the organizational chart. Assembly workers, bank tellers, cashiers, and stock workers are examples.
During the summit, the White House announced new commitments being made by public and private partners in response to a call to action launched by the President in January “to help workers of all ages earn a shot at better, higher-paying jobs, even if they don’t have a higher education.”
I wish there had been more representatives from the adult education field present. For those of us who were there, it was a unique opportunity to advocate directly with employers on behalf of workers with very low skills—many of whom are part of that frontline workforce. As we know from PIAAC, two-thirds of the estimated 36 million adults in this country with very low literacy skills are employed, but often in low-paying, dead-end jobs. The lack of basic skills blocks millions of these workers from accessing the education and training they need to advance to better paying jobs.
I was impressed by the level of interest among participants in the needs of the lowest-skilled workers and in the U.S. adult education system in general. During his opening remarks, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez specifically acknowledged that literacy and numeracy challenges often hold people back from advancing their careers beyond those frontline jobs, and this provided a perfect opening for me as I advocated for these workers throughout the day.
The summit closed with an address from Vice President Joe Biden, who tied the discussions held during the day to the broader goals laid out in his Job-Driven Training Action Plan from last year.
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.
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.