NLA Disc: Policy & Practice Issues in Adult Literacy Education
David J Rosen
DJRosen at world.std.com
Sun Jun 15 07:20:56 EDT 1997
On Sat, 14 Jun 1997, Tom Sticht wrote:
> There are a couple of major policy and practice issues that I see facing
> the field of adult literacy education and that are not being adequately
> addressed by "the field." In this posting I discuss what I think is the
> major policy issue facing the field. In a later posting I will discuss
> what I think are major issues of practice.
> ...."[the belief by Washington Times' Ken Adelman]....that
> educational-economic achievement are each largely a matter of genes -
> not of upbringing."
I think Tom Sticht has identified one of our biggest and most important
challenges, to demonstrate definitively that our field does make
a difference in adult learners' lives. To many of us it may be a shock to
realize that this is even in question because we see direct evidence of
our success each day in the classroom. Nevertheless, as Tom Sticht points
out, our effectiveness IS in question.
So how do we "show 'em"? I would like to suggest two ways. First, bring
the full force of research and evaluation to our assistance. Identify
programs we believe to be strong and invite the scrutiny of systematic
internal and external evaluation. One promising example of this is the new
Lila Wallace Readers Digest Fund-sponsored "What Works Literacy
Partnership." Are there others? Should still others be planned?
The second, and in my opinion even more promising effort, is to organize
adult learners whose lives have been changed -- on a large scale -- to
flood Congress with their personal, individual testimony: in person, by
letter, by fax and email. I have seen that studies can make a difference
in education public policy decisions. I have also observed that
one-on-one discussions with those who have benefited from adult literacy
instruction almost always make a difference.
David J. Rosen
<DJRosen at world.std.com>
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