Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More on Adult Education

"The National Commission on Adult Literacy calls on Congress to transform the adult education and literacy system into an adult education and workforce skills system with the capacity to effectively serve 20 million adults annually by 2020."

Report of the National Commission on Adult Literacy, Reach Higher, AMERICA: Overcoming Crisis in the U.S. Workforce, June 2008

The Commission evokes the GI Bill as it proposes a new Adult Education and Economic Growth Act that would increase available funding by about a factor of five. Tying adult education even closer to skills, workforce, and education success, the proposed legislation would measure the achievement of GEDs, english language credentials, workforce certificates, and community college enrollments and certificates.

We're moving in the right direction. Skills2Compete is national campaign to increase the attainment of "some college for American workers. The famed Tipping Point Study from the State Of Washington shows that workers can get a real bump in wages from a year of college and/or occupational certificates of some kind.

But achieving 'some college" for all will be a challenge without more concerted attention to adult education. One estimate by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems is that 88 million adults face at least one education barrier: 18,229 million have no high school diploma; 51, 365 million have no college; and 18.4million have limited English skills.

Those of us in workforce and education would agree completely on the goals of "some college" and the education challenges. We probably would also agree on the difficulty of effectively linking education and workforce for lower-level learners -- and the time it takes to make progress. I hope we would also agree that it's not just about skills but also about job quality -- including business investment in skill development for all their workers.


Forty Something said...

I have no high school diploma, yet managed to be more literate at age 6 than most of my classmates managed bythe time they supposedly graduated. It's unwise to conflate schooling with education, especially given the compulsory nature of the institution and its specific aim of cultivating obedient drones rather than independent thinkers.

The dollar isn't the only thing suffering inflation. The more college degrees, the less each one is worth -- and the requirements trend lower with each passing year.

Like marriage as we know it, many sensible people look at the costs of education and wisely decide their time is better spent elsewhere. Not everyone is cut out for "higher learning", but very few are truly incapable. Apprenticeships and certification are due for a resurgence. Now if only the compulsory attendance laws, child labor laws and minimum wage laws were abolished as well!

Bob Giloth said...

You are absolutely right on the need to expand apprenticeships. This is the best training model around -- that mixes education and real on-the-job training and some community college credit in some places. Lots of reasons for lack of expanded apprenticeships. One major one is the rollback of unions.