[NLA] New Years Greetings for 2002
tsticht at aznet.net
Sun Dec 30 11:47:13 EST 2001
New Years Greetings for 2002!
This year celebrating
The Adult Education and Literacy System of the United States...
Our Nations Third Branch of Public Education
General George Washington, encamped at Valley Forge, ordered the
chaplains to teach literacy skills to the many illiterate men serving
with the Continental Army. A hospital, cleared of patients, was cleaned
and used as a camp school to teach soldiers the rudiments of the "three
Rs". Lessons continued daily through the remaining weeks of the Valley
Some two hundred years after General Washington provided the first
publicly supported education and literacy instruction for adults in our
newly forming nation, the Congress of the United States passed the
Adult Education Act of 1966. This act created the Adult Education and
Literacy System of the United States as a unique education system formed
by a local, state, and federal partnership.
Today, this education system works under revisions to the Adult
Education Act of 1966 as given in the Workforce Investment Act of 1998,
Title 2, The Adult Education and Family Literacy Act. As a publicly
supported education system, the Adult Education and Literacy System
takes its place alongside the public K-12 school system for children and
the public higher education system for young adults as the third major
component of publicly funded education in the United States.
U. S. Department of Education data indicate that in 1966, the newly
born AELS had some 377,660 enrollees. By 2000 this had grown to close to
3 million enrollees who took advantage of the educational offerings of
the AELS. In 1998, the AELS involved 177, 843 personnel, including 22,
890 full time personnel, 69, 129 part-time personnel and 85, 924
volunteer personnel. These personnel worked in some 4, 000 programs
consisting of local education agencies, (59%), post-secondary
institutions (15%), community based organizations (14%), correctional
education (4%), and others (8%-libraries, literacy councils, private
industry councils, sheltered workshops, etc).
These are laudable achievements I believe. But they are not good enough
for a nation that has recently been told by government officials that
some 10,000,000 adults are almost totally illiterate, almost one-third
of young adults are undereducated to the point of being undesirable to
the military services, and over 40,000,000 adults are without high
With combined state and federal funding of only some $400 per enrollee,
the AELS is obscenely under funded to meet the huge task before it. I
believe that to a large extent this results from an almost complete lack
of knowledge about the AELS among the U.S. population in general and
policymakers in particular, and for those who are aware of the AELS, I
believe there is a large misunderstanding of what the AELS is, what it
does, what it accomplishes, and what it could be.
For these reasons I believe we need a ***massive*** and long term
communication campaign to educate the public at large, educators,
government officials, other policymakers, funding organizations and
potential adult students about the AELS. We need to let everyone know
about the existence of and many accomplishments of the AELS and, given
adequate resources, its even greater potential in the future for
meeting the educational needs of adults across the life span to ensure
the health, welfare, and prosperity of each individual and of the United
States as a nation.
The Adult Education and Learning System of the United States
SERVING AMERICAS ADULT LEARNERS IN 2002!
1 For more about the history of the AELS see Sticht, T. (in press). The
rise of the Adult Education and Literacy System of the United States:
1600-2000. In J. Comings, B. Garner & C. Smith (Eds.), Annual review of
adult learning and literacy. Volume 4. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
NOTE: This is my response to David's request for ideas about campaign
messages for the media.
NLA mailing list: NLA at lists.literacytent.org
LiteracyTent: web hosting, news, community and goodies for literacy
More information about the Nla-nifl-archive