[NLA] Omnibus Literacy Legislation
GEORGE E. DEMETRION
gdemetrion at juno.com
Fri Dec 14 11:46:57 EST 2001
David and others:
A few more sections of the concept paper that stood out for me:
p. 3 "The quality of adult basic educational services needs to be
improved so that students stay in programs longer, learn more and advance
further in their goals."
Our ethnographic research is showing the many significant ways that adult
literacy impacts on people's lives in direct and indirect ways,
particularly over a several year period.
The statement on poverty and racism is a good start, though could be more
Two good studies in this are:
* Lorna Rivera's (2000)dissertation, "Learning Community: An
Ethnographic Study of Popular Education and Homeless Women in a
Shelter-Based Adult Literacy Program." Northeastern University,: Boston
Rachel Martin (2001) "Listening Up: : Reinventing Ourselves as Teachers
and Students." Heinemann.
There are other excellent studies on poverty, racism and adult ed/adult
literacy that could be profitably studied to flesh out this aspect of the
The focus on "outreach, counseling, case management and distance
as services directly related to the efficacy of adult literacy.
The need for "continuous improvement in planning, curriculum design,
staff preparation and development, assessment and evaluation, student
involvement, and a system of research and development that accurately
reflects the changing needs of the adult education field and is quickly
[but wait, not too quickly, lest much is missed in the translation, GD]
into improved practice."
p. 12 (in addition to what I quoted in an earlier message)
A call for a "re-evaluation of the rather limited research and
development capacity of the nation's adult educations and literacy
system. There is a great need for additional research into assessment,
evaluation, curriculum and standards use of technology, and planning
Yes, clearly, except one word of caution. Let us not neglect the
significant body of scholarship on adult literacy/ESOL that extends back
to the 1970s and with Tom Sticht's work, to the late 60s. While the call
for new research is always timely, I believe an equal task is in the
thorough probing of the significant scholarship of the field for the past
30 years, including a review of how this research adds important insight
(and also, what needs to be modified) to current matters in the various
A critical issue is how is the term "research" being defined, who is
defining it, for what purposes and what is being legitimized and
marginalized in the process. That's why I prefer the term "scholarship"
to the somewhat buzz word, "research," so that I think it's important to
examine the broad array of scholarship in the field and gradually draw on
its significance for practice. There's some subtle work that needs to be
done there that should not be expatiated too quickly.
p. 13 That whole page on staff development, intensity of service,
'curriculum standards and frameworks reflective of the life roles of all
kinds of learners," "transference of research-to-practice and training
into instruction, etc.
p. 14 the call for a Research Investment Advisory Committee to represent
the broad cross-section of the field.
One caveat. The document calls for members of the committee to be
jointly selected by the US Dept of Education and NIFL. I would also
advocate for an independent, non-governmental third group, perhaps the
new Lit.Org or some other entity to better assure that the plurality of
interests and needs are represented.
In short, there's much here to draw on to help construct a viable common
ground. I'm holding off on more critical comments at this time which
would focus more on longer term philosophical, pedagogical, and political
issues in terms of how this work is being and/or will be framed as a
public document. Those issues are important and will ultimately speak to
the viability of the effort. However, given the flexibility of An Action
Agenda, it's quite possible that they can be addressed while at least
broadly supporting this initiative rather than waiting for a more
purified resolution of all major issues as a prelude to moving forward.
What do others think? I'm particularly curious to get the reading of
those who are to the left of where I'm coming from.
Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford
Off to a tutor training session
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