[AAACE-NLA] Who Speaks for adult Literacy
AEllison at ed.state.nh.us
Wed Aug 29 11:22:35 EDT 2007
My thanks to Archie for keeping the spotlight on the issue of learners
playing the key role in all advocacy campaigns related to adult
I am not sure that I would call the successful advocacy efforts of adult
learners over the past years a "literacy march" but I would cite two
examples among many, to make the point that adult learners have been
effective advocates for themselves and their fellow students.
Over an approximately ten year period the state adult education
appropriation in Massachusetts grew from $4 million to $32 million,
mainly as a result of organized student contacts with the Governor and
state legislators. This would not have happened without the active
participation of thousands of students.
Two years ago when President Bush proposed a 66% cut in federal funding
for adult education, the adult education field fought back and defeated
the proposal in the US House and Senate. That campaign generated
approximately 400,000 contacts nationwide from the adult education
community to members of Congress and restored $363 million to adult
education programs across the country. The great majority of those
contacts came from adult education students.
For years most of our advocacy work in adult education was based upon
attempting to present the facts and successes of adult education
programs to policy makers. We felt that simply telling them of the great
need for our programs and the great work that we do would produce an
outpouring of resources to meet that need.
I call these approaches to advocacy: truth and justice campaigns. While
they have sometimes worked in the past overall they have not produced
the needed resources. An advocacy campaign built upon the truth and
justice approach will sometimes succeed but truth and justice with 5,000
letters has a much better chance of success.
From: aaace-nla-bounces at lists.literacytent.org
[mailto:aaace-nla-bounces at lists.literacytent.org] On Behalf Of Archie
Sent: Wednesday, August 29, 2007 9:25 AM
Subject: [AAACE-NLA] Who Speaks for adult Literacy
Kevin O'Connor and Art Ellison
On July 29 I posted a message and in that message I asked some
One of the questions was, "Who speaks for adult literacy?" In the past I
have posted many messages about the need to have adult learners on all
literacy boards and other committees that deal with adult literacy. I
have not been successful in getting any of this done. I'm just one adult
learner, but I keep trying. I feel very strongly about this. There is a
place for all of us who are interested in improving the adult literacy
Kevin, one of things I said in my posting was, "Those of us who have
worked and lived in the trenches of literacy, need to have some say
about the direction adult literacy will go and how it uses its
After reading about your work as a teacher and a researcher, I would
consider you a person who works and lives in the trenches. When you told
about the work that you and the adult students have done together with
the state reps to get funding restored you answered part of another
question that I asked: "How can the literacy field and the adult
learners work together?"
I come to adult literacy from a different direction than you do I was an
adult student in a literacy program for over two years (1984-1987),
Later I worked for the same literacy program at Iowa Central Community
College. I worked as a literacy coordinator for thirteen years
(1990-2003). I have tried to be an advocate and a voice for the adult
I feel it's not just what we do in the class room, but what we do when
we are outside the class room is also important. One without the other
is useless. On my July 29 posting I placed a list of things the New
Readers of Iowa have done together outside the class room. I'm very
proud to be a part of what we have done in Iowa.
People need to know the important things you have done in Massachusetts
and with you students. I would also like them to know what we are doing
in Iowa. We are valuable people and good citizens. What the adult
learners do and say is important for policy makers to know and who can
tell them better?
When I learned who the members were on the Commission on Adult Literacy
and think about the influence they will have with policy makers, it
worries me because there are no adult students on the commission and
most of them on the commission have not lived or been in the literacy
trenches. Someone needs to speak up. What I'm not hearing from the field
is that the adult learners need a voice we will speak for you.
Art Ellison, I know you and have worked with you. My question is, "If we
have hundreds of thousands of adult learners contacting all these
government offices, wouldn't an adult literacy march be effective?"
Adult Learner from Iowa
URL - http://www.readiowa.org/archiew.html
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