NLA Discussion: Next Step Programs
David J Rosen
DJRosen at world.std.com
Thu Aug 27 17:28:57 EDT 1998
Kevin and other NLA Colleagues,
I like the metaphor you used, Kevin, the mouse should not be asked
to carry the elephant. I agree, but I think that adult literacy education
can *be* an elephant. I do not think this is a zero-sum game situation,
that we either fund basic literacy *or* college prep. It has been this
way in the past, but in many states (not all states the terrain is
changing. More and more, state legislatures are, or will be, open to the
idea of investing in adult basic skills -- literacy skills *and* college
prep, a whole system of adult basic education services.
I think state coalitions of adult literacy providers, working with the
National Institute for Literacy and the National Coalition for Literacy,
can create a climate where state legislatures will make significant
commitments of funds to adult literacy education -- if they see that
they are getting a high quality system of services through which adults
can advance from basic literacy into higher education.
David J. Rosen
<DJRosen at world.std.com>
On Thu, 27 Aug 1998 KSmith1 at aol.com wrote:
> NLA Colleagues,
> This is an intriguing conversation about the use of ABE funds to support
> college preparatory courses for adult students wishing to matriculate but
> lacking the prerequisite skills to benefit by 100+ level courses. Clearly,
> these learners should be considered adult students and, thereby, eligible to
> be supported by adult education funding and programs. Yet, I have
> considerable difficulty with the idea of making college preparatory programs
> the priority of ABE funding.
> Adult education has been called upon to create a parallel system to K-12,
> maybe even pre-K through 12, given some students lack of readiness. If you
> follow the analogy, our pre-K to grade 3 students have been the stated
> priority of ABE funding (0-5 & limited English proficient). Adult learners
> at this level have low reading ability, self-esteem, earning potential and
> multiple, literacy-related life issues. They are more likely to have learning
> differences and/or disabilities. They require the greatest concentration of
> human and fiscal resource to assist them to develop the skills considered
> necessary to function independently and/or enter and be successful in a
> college program. While the majority students in this range are still served
> by LEAs, it is at this level that the volunteer community is most engaged.
> Adult students in the parallel grades 4-8 are served by ABE group programs. I
> suspect that a large percentage of ABE funding is being spent at this level.
> Many of these students are probably caught in the Welfare Reform conundrum of
> lacking the skills to support a career and thereby relegated to entry level
> employment for life. With the "work first" approach to employment, we will
> have to reconsider and rof our parallel system is Pre-GED/GED. I suspect that
> the largest percentage of ABE resource is focused here. It is the place where
> we offer another but unequal opportunity to gain a secondary credential; once
> held as one's coupon for life. Clearly, the skills required for life are no
> longer represented solely by a high school diploma. This realization adds
> merit to the argument that we should make college preparatory courses a
> priority of ABE funding. It is likely that we would achieve a more immediate
> and possibly compelling return for the least investment at this level as well.
> However, given the paltry sums available for the express purpose of adult
> education, I have to question the ethics of such a priority. Why supplement a
> multi-billion dollar enterprise with our few hundred million? Wouldn't we be
> better served to gain the support of the higher education community to seek
> dedicated support for the developmental/college prep. students under the
> Higher Ed. Act?
> An analogous situation is occurring in New York State where concern that
> higher high schools graduation standards will force more students out of
> school. One response has suggested reducing the age eligibility of adult
> students from 21 to 16 in order to catch those falling out as soon as
> possible. Again the cause is noble but the solution misguided. The mouse is
> being asked to carry the elephant. In this case, a 200 million dollar
> operation offering to supplement an 11 billion dollar enterprise. Students
> age 16 to 21 are eligible to generate basic school aid. Why not bring adult
> education into schools to develop programs for students not meeting the
> standards, thereby at risk of dropping out, and generate basic school aid to
> support the services rather than tapping the far more meager adult education
> funds to do so.
> $360 million is not enough to create a system which serves adults with skills
> that range from Pre-K to college prep., nor is $500 million or even 2 billion.
> We must begin to be creative about ways to hook our tiny, red wagon to the
> larger, more well-heeled systems we support.
> Kevin Smith
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