Are adult _basic_ literacy programs disappearing?
Submitted by David J. Rosen on April 5, 2016 - 10:11pm
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For 37 years, Portland Community College, the largest community college in Oregon, and one of the largest in the country, has had a volunteer adult literacy program. According to this article it will be closing, and it is not clear that there will be anything to replace it. There is at least one other volunteer adult literacy program in Portland, the Portland Literacy Council, but I wonder how we should interpret the community college decision to no longer offer adult basic literacy. Is it no longer a needed service in Portland? Did the community college decide that adult literacy is not part of its core mission, that not-for-profit organizations or libraries could do that work? I wonder if there is a pattern in other parts of the country of losing adult basic literacy programs. I wonder, too, if the newly authorized Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act has been interpreted to mean that basic adult literacy is not a priority, that its focus is to enable preparation for post-secondary education and careers. If so, since the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act is now part of WIOA, where will public funding come from to support library, community-based and volunteer not-for profit organizations to provide adult basic literacy?
Our national performance on adult literacy in the United States, compared with our international peer countries, is very low on the PIAAC Survey of Adult Skills. Can this not be a public policy concern? Shouldn't this be a time for us to focus on adult basic literacy as well as college and career readiness, and English language learning? Does anyone have data on how adult basic literacy services in the U.S. are trending? Are we losing adult basic literacy services at a time when the hard evidence shows we need them?
David J. Rosen