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Legislative Updates

 

Congressman Beyer to Introduce Bill to Give Adult Educators Tax Breaks

U.S. Representative Don Beyer (new U.S. Representative for VA-8) is sponsoring a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to allow adult educators the same above the line deduction as is allowed for expenses of elementary and secondary school teachers.

COABE supports this legislation and any legislation that helps to bring adult education on par with its K-12 and higher education counterparts. See COABE’s letter of support here. To learn more, see the Discussion Draft of the legislation linked here. Thank you to Congressman Beyer for his leadership and education staff Kate Schisler for her work in helping to make this happen!

COABE Issue Papers and Fact Sheets

COABE is developing a series of issue papers and fact sheets, based on a set of core principles, which COABE members can use to educate others about the successes, challenges, and needs of adult education. These resources will be posted in the coming weeks at www.coabe.org.

Budget and Appropriations

FY 2016

The omnibus passed on December 18 and the President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (HR 2029) into law. In July 2016, Adult Education State Grants will be funded at $581.9 million and National Leadership Activities at $13.7 million. This is a 2.2% increase over 2015 but it is also below 2012 pre-sequester levels (Sequestration kicked in January 2013). 

Ten million of the Incentive Grant funding will also be redirected back to states through the federal formula for allocating funding to states. This means that some states may see as much as a 4% increase in their 2016 funding allocation. 

Adult education advocates have had two recent celebrations: The budget caps were raised through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015; and we turned proposed cuts to adult education into a $13 million increase. These results certainly would not have happened without your advocacy. Thank you!

FY 2017

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 set spending limits for both FY 2016 and FY 2017. However, the funds still need to be divvied up among appropriations subcommittees and allocated to programs. Thus, any increase in program funding would likely be the result of cutting funding someplace else, or by finding other savings. 

We do not want Congress to cut adult education. So it will be important to keep legislators and their staffers informed of adult education issues and that the current funding levels are inadequate. 

Action Needed By February 5: 302(b) Sign On Letter in Support of Increased Funding for the Labor-HHS-Appropriations Subcommittee

From the Committee for Education Funding: A sign-on letter is being circulated throughout the health, education, child development, social services, and workforce communities urging appropriators to allocate as high a funding level as possible to the Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. The letter is available here. The greater the allocation for the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, the more funds will be available to education programs for FY 2017.

TO SIGN, CLICK HERE BY COB FEBRUARY 5, 2016.

What’s Next

The president is expected to release his budget proposal on Tuesday, February 9. Beginning on President’s Day, February 16, the House and Senate will be home on recess for a week. During this time COABE urges you to visit with your legislators. Either invite them for a program visit, or bring a small team to visit with them in their district or regional offices. Schedule your appointment now, if you haven’t already. For materials on how to prepare for and conduct meetings with legislators, and for resources to train student ambassadors, visit the COABE Legislative Center at http://www.coabe.org/legislative-center/

FY 2017 Congressional Budget Resolution

The House Budget Committee plans to markup a FY 2017 budget resolution the week of February 22 and the House plans to vote on it the week of February 29. It is not clear yet whether the Senate Budget Committee will mark up a budget resolution. 

Since Congress set the spending caps in October through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, a budget resolution is not really needed to get the FY 2017 appropriations process started.

Two main purposes of the budget resolution are to a) set the spending caps for both defense and nondefense discretionary spending and b) provide budget reconciliation instructions to designated House or Senate committees concerning mandatory spending or revenues.

Also this spring, prepare to contact your legislators’ offices to invite them to sign a Dear Colleague letter in support of adult education funding. Each year, legislators submit their funding priorities to the Appropriations Chairs and we want adult education to be a priority. COABE will keep you posted on this opportunity.

COABE Capitol Hill Days

COABE is hosting two Hill Days in 2016. Mark your calendars for April 26 September 28. We are working through state associations to finalize participant lists and other details. Please stay tuned.

WIOA State Plans

States are wrapping up their work on creating Unified or Combined State Plans and follow up hearings on the draft plans. We encouraged COABE members to attend the hearings held in their state. While these plans are due to the Secretary of Labor by March 1, 2016, most plans have been completed by January 1st.

Changes with Ability to Benefit (ATB)

Language on the Ability to Benefit was changed in the FY 2016 appropriations bill (HR 2029) to align with the definition of career pathways in WIOA:

SEC. 313. CAREER PATHWAYS PROGRAMS.—
(1)    Subsection (d) of section 484 of the HEA is amended by replacing (d)(2) with the following:

‘‘(2) ELIGIBLE CAREER PATHWAY PROGRAM.—In this subsection, the term ‘eligible career pathway program’ means a program that combines rigorous and high-quality education, training, and other services that—

(A)   aligns with the skill needs of industries in the economy of the State or regional economy involved;

(B)   prepares an individual to be successful in any of a full range of secondary or postsecondary education options, including apprenticeships registered under the Act of August 16, 1937 (commonly known as the ‘National Apprenticeship Act’; 50 Stat. 664, chapter 663; 29 U.S.C. 50 et seq.) (referred to individually in this Act as an ‘apprenticeship’, except in section 171);

(C)   includes counseling to support an individual in achieving the individual’s education and career goals;

(D)   includes, as appropriate, education offered concurrently with and in the same context as workforce preparation activities and training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster;

(E)    organizes education, training, and other services to meet the particular needs of an individual in a manner that accelerates the educational and career advancement of the individual to the extent practicable;

(F)    enables an individual to attain a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent, and at least 1 recognized postsecondary credential; and

(G)  helps an individual enter or advance within a specific occupation or occupational cluster.

(2)    Subsection (b) of section 401 of the HEA is amended by striking the addition to (b)(2)(A)(ii) made by subsection 309(b) of division G of Public Law 113–235. (HR 2029, pages 397-398)

HR 2029 also restores the maximum Pell Grant award for students who qualify under ATB. The partial restoration of ATB eligibility in the 2015 omnibus did not provide sufficient funding to support the full maximum award for new students after July 1, 2015. 

COABE learned that new guidance on ATB is pending per the recent changes in HR 2029. We will keep you posted as to how it may impact adult education programs. 

Getting Adult Education Noticed by Electoral Candidates

Elections campaigns are another way to strengthen support for adult education. Presidential and gubernatorial campaigns, as well as state and local elections, are opportunities to engage candidates on the issues. Raising questions about adult education with electoral candidates at the local level is a fun way to get involved and bring positive attention to your program. Here are some suggestions if this is of interest to you:

The Threat of a Constitutional Convention and Balanced Budget Amendment

A national effort is underway to pass state resolutions calling for a constitutional convention. The focus is to rewrite the U.S. Constitution to sharply limit what the federal government can do to advance the nation’s priorities, invest in the country’s future, and protect the rights and opportunities of all Americans. Among the many deeply damaging Constitutional amendments that could emerge from this effort is a balanced budget amendment. Please see this fact sheet from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for background information. COABE will keep you posted if there are further developments and action that may be needed.

Upcoming Advocacy Activities

Note: The projected advocacy activities below are subject to change based on the activities in Congress. The list below is intended only to give you an idea of what to expect so that you may plan accordingly. COABE will continue to keep you posted in regular updates and alerts sent to the COABE Contact Network. For more information about how the COABE Contact Network works and to sign up, visit http://www.coabe.org/coabe-contact-network.

February
Visit COABE’s website for new issue papers and fact sheets you can use in your advocacy work
Feb 9: President’s FY 2017 Budget Request is released
Feb 16-19: Campaign to Visit Legislators While Home on Recess

March
Federal legislators are submitting their funding priorities. Contact your legislators asking them to sign a Dear Colleague in support of funding for adult education. 

April
Participate in Hill Day.

Visit www.coabe.org for the full 2016 advocacy calendar.


January 2016Presidential Survey and Response Sheet

Overview
More than 36 million adults in America struggle to read. Low adult literacy in reading, writing, and numeracy creates billions of dollars in lost revenue and increases costs for health care, corrections, welfare, and many other major social issues. According to the PIAAC study (Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies), released in 2013, the United States ranked in the bottom third of 24 surveyed countries for adult skills in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments. 

Why literacy? Why not focus on health? Or workforce development? Or poverty relief? The answer is simple—adult literacy and numeracy intersect with all of these. We won’t solve these socioeconomic problems unless we also build a more literate adult population. Adult basic education programs bring a powerful return on investment, impacting the lives of Americans, their families, and communities. Adult basic education helps adults break cycles of intergenerational poverty and illiteracy by providing adults the skills they need to succeed as workers, parents, and citizens. Research shows that better-educated parents raise better-educated, more successful children—who are less likely to end up in poverty or prison. 

Adult education has a critical need for services. A decline in federal and state funding in the last 10 years has resulted in programs serving only a fraction of the students in need. Currently, two-thirds of programs are struggling with long student waiting lists. With present levels of public funding, less than 10 percent of adults in need are receiving services.


The Issue: K-12 Education
There is a lot of focus on how early childhood education and the Common Core State Standards in K-12 will help to better prepare students for success in college, career, and life. But research shows that focusing on educating kids without adequately addressing adults will not solve the skills gap. Children whose parents have low-literacy levels have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves3. These children are also more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high-absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out. Low-literate parents who improve their own skills are more likely to have a positive impact on their children’s educational achievements. 

The Issue: Health Literacy
An excess of $230 billion a year in health care costs is linked to low adult literacy skills. Nearly half of American adults have difficulty understanding and using health information. Lack of understanding impedes adults’ abilities to make appropriate health decisions and increases the likelihood that they’ll incur higher health costs. When one accounts for the future costs of low health literacy to taxpayers, the real present-day cost of low health literacy is in the range of $1.6 to $3.6 trillion. 

The Issue: Jobs
There has been much discussion lately about the “skills gap,” or disconnect between available jobs and qualified workers. We cannot have a conversation about improving our country’s workforce without first talking about the long-term economic impact low literacy is having on our workforce. Individuals at the lowest literacy and numeracy levels have a higher rate of unemployment and lower wages than the national average. Low literacy costs the U.S. $225 billion or more each year in non-productivity in the workforce, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment. 

The Issue: High School Equivalency/Career and College Readiness
High school dropout rates are staggering. Every year, one in three young adults—more than 1.2 million —drop out of high school. Recent data shows that nearly 30 percent of adults with household incomes at or below the federal poverty line do not have a high school credential. The key to financial success is a viable career path and adequate education to seek meaningful, family-supporting wages. The value to our economy in additional wages and the reduction in costs for various support programs is estimated at over $200 billion a year. 

The Issue: Immigrants    
About two million immigrants come to the U.S. each year seeking better jobs and better lives. About 50 percent of them lack high school education and proficient English language skills, severely limiting their access to jobs and job training, college, and citizenship. This increases their vulnerability to unemployment and living in poverty. Not only are the adults at risk, but so are their children. Poverty in immigrant populations adds to the strain on the U.S. society, which is already dealing with a significant percentage of impoverished citizens. 

The Issue: Correctional Education
One in every 100 U.S. adults 16 and older is in prison or jail (about 2.2 million in 20136). Seventy-five percent of state prison inmates and 59 percent of federal prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate. Ninety-five percent of those incarcerated are reintegrated into our communities. It is hard enough for them to find jobs when already burdened with a prison record, but it is nearly impossible when they lack basic literacy and technology skills. Research shows that inmates who are educated are 43 percent less likely to return to prison. Further, employment rates for those released was 13 percent higher for those who received education. 

The Issue: Technology and Digital Literacy
To be successful in today’s digital world, literacy goes far beyond being able to read and write. Digital literacy is the ability to use technology such as computers, smartphones, and the internet – and low-literate Americans are disproportionately finding themselves on the wrong side of the digital information divide. We are now not only looking at equity of access to technology, but also at how people are able to use that access. As a result we now are referring to the digital information divide, emphasizing how important it is to use access to find information, apply for jobs or driver licenses, do online banking, access social networks, and even for personal security protection. While national efforts to address affordable access to information technology and broadband are being achieved, efforts to improve e-skills are struggling to keep pace with demand. Learning basic skills is essential for all adults, including not only reading, writing, math, and English language skills, but also digital literacy for a technology-rich and technology-dependent society.

Summary
We hope this information stimulates thought and increases your awareness of the critical issue of low adult basic skills in the United States compared with our nation’s economic peers. We encourage your response to our questions, and urge you to address low adult basic skills, including English language acquisition, in the United States.


2015

December 2015FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

The House Appropriations Committee released the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill that, if passed, will fund the government through September 30, 2016. This level reflects the increased domestic discretionary funding provided by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which was enacted on November 2.

Adult education funding is slated to be increased by $13 million over FY 2015, bringing it from $569 million to $582 million for FY 2016.

The proposed FY 2016 amount is more than the House and Senate Appropriations Committees recommended for adult education earlier this summer. The House Appropriations Committee bill level-funded Adult Education State Grants, while cutting $3.5 million from National Leadership activities. The Senate Appropriations Committee bill cut $29 million from Adult Education State Grants and $6 million from National Leadership activities. 

The FY2016 Omnibus is also $13 million above the President's 2016 Budget request. However, this is mixed news, since proposed adult education funding for FY 2016 still falls short of pre-sequestration levels. It also falls under the amount authorized for adult education in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014.

Adult Education State Grants

  • FY 2012(pre-sequestration levels), $595 million
  • FY 2015, $569 million
  • FY 2016 President's Budget Request, $569 million
  • FY 2016 Omnibus, $582 million
  • WIOA Authorized amount for FY 2016, $607.3 - 622.3 million*

 
*$607.3 million if maximum reserve for national leadership ($15 million) is taken. (Noted by the National Coalition for Literacy)
 
While we are still at pre-sequester levels, and we did not get all of what we asked for, overall this is positive news! Several other education programs, like Perkins Career and Technical Education State Grants, did not receive an increase and others were cut or eliminated. We stopped proposed cuts to adult education and now have an increase. Your advocacy work made a difference!

Next Steps
In the meantime, Congress has passed, and the President signed last night (Dec. 16), another continuing result ion (CR) to keep the government open while legislators wrap up the omnibus spending bill and tax extenders package. The 1.1 trillion dollar spending bill is up for a vote this Friday (Dec. 18).

COABE applauds Congress for taking this step to tackle the education and skills gaps among adults. While this is a step in a positive direction, we look forward to working with Congress to build on these investments. Through adult education, adults gain the literacy, numeracy, problem-solving, and various related skills they need to succeed and for communities to thrive.

Thank you, COABE members, for your continued advocacy work. We look forward to working with you in the coming months to lift every voice for adult education! 
 

November 2015Public Policy Advocacy Update: October-December 2015
By Jackie Taylor, COABE Public Policy Advocacy Consultant

In this update:

November 2015Budget and Appropriations
During this quarter we have seen a lot of action during the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget and appropriations process. 

On September 30 – the last day of Fiscal Year 2015 – Congress passed and the President signed a Continuing Resolution maintaining government funding at nearly its current spend rate through December 11, 2015. The CR includes an approximately 0.2% cut across the board to keep everything under the budget caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

On November 2, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 and averted risk of default on the nation’s debt if Congress did not renew its borrowing authority. The agreement lifts spending caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and raises spending levels above these caps by nearly $80 billion through September 2017. The agreement also suspends the debt limit until mid-March 2017. Lawmakers are now working to enact final, omnibus legislation for FY 2016 before the continuing resolution expires December 11.

On November 4th, COABE wrote the Appropriations Committee leadership requesting that they provide the largest allocation of this sequestration relief (via the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015) as possible for the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee. (Labor HHS-Education funds federally-funded adult education programs, as well as many other education programs that benefit adult learners and their families.)

On November 5th, lawmakers revised the FY 2016 allocations for each of the 12 appropriations subcommittees, taking into account the relief now made possible through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. These allocations (called 302(b) subcommittee allocations) establish a cap on spending for each of the 12 appropriations bills. Each subcommittee then determines how that money is spent among the agencies and programs under its jurisdiction. The revised allocations were not made public.

With the 302(b) allocations finalized, appropriators are continuing their work on the FY 2016 appropriations bills. The Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee leadership (Sen. Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Murray (D-WA), Rep. Cole (R-OK), and Rep. DeLauro (D-CT)) and their staffs met to decide funding levels on program-by-program basis.
 
COABE and COABE members who are constituents of the appropriations committees wrote letters and made calls asking for Congress to appropriate $622,286,000 – the amount authorized for adult education for 2016 in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). (See COABE's letter here.)

It’s important to keep in mind that the initial Labor-HHS-Education allocation for FY 2016 (set earlier this year before the spending caps were raised) is nearly $4 billion below FY 2015—one of the deepest cuts across the 12 appropriations bills.

Further, the FY1 2016 House appropriations bill ─ passed earlier this summer ─ level-funded adult education state grants, while cutting $3.5 million from national leadership activities. The Senate bill included a $29 million cut for adult education state grants and a $6 million cut for national leadership programs. It is important that we stay vigilant during the budget and appropriations process to help ensure that adult education gets the funding levels as authorized in WIOA.

The process continues into December and appropriators plan to have the omnibus completed by December 11th.

November 2015States Hold Hearings on WIOA State Plans

By December 1st, most states will have written Unified or Combined State Plans and will be holding public hearings on the draft plans. It is important for adult education to have a voice at these public hearings. Contact your state director or state staff to find out when they are being held in your state and participate in one.

November 2015Tax Deduction for Adult Educators

Don Beyer (new U.S. Representative for VA-8) is drafting a bill for adult educators to have the same tax deduction as K-12 educators. It amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 “to allow individuals providing adult education the same above-the line deduction as is allowed for expenses of elementary and secondary school teachers.”

It strikes some language that is K-12 specific, includes references to adult education, and indicates that an educator should work 250 of taxable hours/year in order to qualify for the tax credit.

COABE supports this legislation and any legislation that helps to bring adult education on par with its K-12 and higher education counterparts. We will keep you posted as to the status and progress of this bill. To learn more, see the Discussion Draft of the legislation.

November 2015New! COABE Advocacy Resources

COABE is developing fact sheets, based on a set of core principles, that COABE members can use to educate others about the successes, challenges, and needs of adult education. Public policy principles, summaries, and fact sheets will be available in early 2016. 

November 2015New! COABE 2016 Hill Days

COABE is pleased to announce that we will be hosting two Hill Days in Washington D.C. in 2016. More information will be coming soon!

November 2015Elections!

As candidates running in the primaries for President of the United States hit the campaign trail, now is the time to ask them about their level of support for adult education funding. Attend town halls, submit questions about adult education to their staff and volunteers, and provide them information via social media. Let’s get the best candidates in office who strongly support – and won’t cut – adult education funding. If you had the opportunity to ask a candidate questions about adult education, what would you ask? Send us your questions to advocacy@coabe.org .

November 2015Upcoming Advocacy Activities

Note: The projected advocacy activities below are subject to change based on the activities in Congress. The list below is intended only to give you an idea of what to expect so that you may plan accordingly. COABE will continue to keep you posted in regular updates and alerts sent to the COABE Contact Network. For more information about how the COABE Contact Network works and to sign up, visit http://www.coabe.org/coabe-contact-network.

December

  • Watch for possible action alert(s) on appropriations as Congress finalizes the FY 2016 omnibus bill.

January

  • Prepare your program fact sheets and schedule meetings or program visits with your legislators while they are home on recess in February.

February

  • President’s FY 2017 Budget Request is released (1st week in February but may be delayed)
  • Feb 16-19: Campaign to Visit Legislators While Home on Recess

March

  • Federal legislators are submitting their funding priorities. Contact your legislators asking them to sign a Dear Colleague in support of funding for adult education. 

April

  • Participate in Hill Day or Virtual Hill Week.

November 20152016 Budget and Appropriations Process
November 4, 2015

We wanted to give you an update on the FY 2016 budget and appropriations process:

November 2015Averting Risk of Default
On Monday, November 2, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. This happened just one day before the November 3rd deadline─after which the nation would have risked catastrophic default on its debt if Congress did not renew its borrowing authority.

The agreement lifts spending caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act and raises spending levels above these caps by nearly $80 billion through September 2017. The $80 billion would be split 50/50 between national defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding. Thus, half would go to NDD departments and programmatic funding over a period of roughly two years.

The agreement also suspends the debt limit until mid-March 2017. Lawmakers are now working to enact final omnibus legislation for FY 2016 before the continuing resolution expires December 11, 2015.

November 2015302(b) Allocations: Another Hurdle Complete
On Wednesday, November 4th, COABE wrote the Appropriations Committee leadership requesting that they provide the largest allocation of this sequestration relief (via the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015) as possible for the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee. (Labor HHS-Education funds federally-funded adult education programs, as well as many other education programs that benefit adult learners and their families.)

On Thursday, November 5th, lawmakers revised the FY 2016 allocations for each of the 12 appropriations subcommittees, taking into account the relief now made possible through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. These allocations (called 302(b) subcommittee allocations) establish a cap on spending for each of the 12 appropriations bills. Each subcommittee then determines the vast majority of how that money is spent among the agencies and programs under its jurisdiction. What each subcommittee cannot resolve on its own gets "kicked up" to the Appropriations Committee leaders for resolution.

Unfortunately, these revised allocations will not be made public.

November 2015—FY 2016 Appropriations─Omnibus
Now that appropriators have their 302(b) allocations, they are continuing their work on the FY 2016 appropriations bills in the form of an "omnibus". The goal of the Appropriations Committee leadership is to have the omnibus bill completed by the end of the month.

According to Carter Moore, former Congressional Aide: "An omnibus bill is a single bill that combines a bunch of smaller bills that may or may not be able to pass Congress independently (omnibus being Latin, "for all (plural)"). Typically, the bills combined into an omnibus will have at least survived committee, indicating some sort of support or review, but not always." (Read more)

Each subcommittee will negotiate its portion of the omnibus. The Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee leadership (Sen. Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Murray (D-WA), Rep. Cole (R-OK), and Rep. DeLauro (D-CT)) and their staffs will meet to decide funding levels on a program-by-program basis.

November 2015—Next Steps for Advocates
If you are a constituent of one of the legislators mentioned above, please reach out to the legislator's office:

  • reiterate the need and demand for adult education, as well as the important contributions adult education makes to adults, their families and communities, and 
  • urge the legislator to increase funding for adult education and state your rationale.

COABE will do the same and will continue to monitor the process.


November 2015Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education Appropriations Bill
November 4, 2015

Download a copy of the Labor, Health and Human Services letter (PDF)

The Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE), the premier national adult education association serving over 13,000 members, urges you to provide as large a share as possible of the sequestration relief included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 to the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee.

Programs funded under Labor-HHS-Education directly and positively impact the lives of Americans throughout this great nation. Despite the profound impact on American health, child development, educational and skills attainment, and productivity, the “Labor-HHS-Education” bill has been cut by $21 billion (12 percent) since FY 2010, adjusted for inflation. In real terms, FY 2015 is at its second lowest level since FY 2001—the only lower year being FY 2013 when sequestration’s across-the-board cuts took effect.
For adult education, it exacerbates an already critical need for services. Adult education programs, authorized under Title II (the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act) of the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), currently serve 1.8 million students annually. However, 93 million Americans are in need of services. A decline in federal and state funding in the last 10 years has resulted in states serving only a fraction of the students in need.

A recent international assessment, the 2012 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), found that the U.S. is stagnating in adult literacy and doing worse in numeracy.fact, American adults ranked lower than most other participating countries in all three domains, including Problem Solving in Technology Rich Environments. Additionally, PIAAC shows that:

  • The U.S. has a large share of low skilled adults, those who perform below level 2.
  • Adults who come from poorly-educated families are 10 times more likely to have low skills.
  • Younger generations, 18-24 year olds, are only slightly outpacing, or are doing worse than older adults, unlike in many industrialized countries.

Further, the most recent waiting list survey conducted by the National Council of State Directors of Adult Education, found that 50 of the 51 states and territories reported waiting lists for services (NCSDAE, 2010).

Yet U.S. adult education programs bring a powerful return on investment, impacting the lives of Americans, their families, and communities. Adult education helps adults break cycles of intergenerational poverty and illiteracy by providing adults the skills they need to succeed as workers, family members, and citizens.

Individuals who participate in adult education programs have higher future earnings as a result of participating, and their income premiums are larger with more intensive participation. (Reder, 2014). According to a 2006 - 2008 U.S. Census Bureau study, education levels had more effect on earnings over a 40-year span in the workforce than any other demographic factor, such as gender, race and Hispanic origin. (National Coalition for Literacy, 2014).

Adult education is also an investment in the future of our nation, as research shows that better educated parents raise better-educated, more successful children, who are less likely to end up in poverty or prison. (McGraw-Hill Research Foundation, 2012).

We urge you to use the relief provided in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 to raise the allocation for Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education and Related Agencies, keeping in mind that the initial Labor-HHS-Education allocation for FY 2016 is nearly $4 billion below FY 2015—one of the deepest cuts across the 12 appropriations bills.

We look forward to hearing back from you on our request. If you have questions about this letter, please contact Sharon Bonney, Executive Director (sharonbonney@coabe.org) and Tom Nash, President tnash@windhamraymondschools.org).


August 2015Public Policy Advocacy Update: July-September 2015
By Jackie Taylor, COABE Public Policy Advocacy Consultant

Please see our summer roundup of COABE’s adult education public policy advocacy activities and what you might expect to see (and be asked to do) this fall.

 

  • National Adult Education & Family Literacy Week Activities September 21-26, 2015
    • Share Your Key to Success!
    • The ABC’s of Investing in Adult Education–In 140 Characters or Less!
    • Share Your AEFL Week Activities With COABE
    • Invite Your U.S. Representative to Visit Your Program During AEFL Week
  • Appropriations
  • Proposed Reductions to the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)
  • COABE Signs the Nondefense Discretionary (NDD) United’s Letter to Stop Sequestration in Favor of a Balanced Approach to Deficit Reduction
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Update and Input on State Plans
  • Request for Comments on WIOA Performance Information Collection
  • Elections!
  • Recommitting to the COABE Contact Network for 2015-2016

National Adult Education & Family Literacy Week Activities September 21-26, 2015
Join COABE in the following activities to raise awareness:

Share Your Key to Success for National Adult Education & Family Literacy Week! 

What is your key to success in adult education? Who has inspired you in your education journey? Is it your son or daughter? A parent? A teacher or mentor? Are you your own key to success? Post a picture or video of you with your “key to success” to COABE’s Facebook page now through September 26. Join us in celebrating your journey and those who encourage or inspire you along the way.

COABE will feature all submissions on the COABE website this fall, and at the 2016 COABE Conference in Dallas, Texas this spring. Anyone who has attended adult education classes or who works in the field of adult education can participate. One free COABE Conference Registration will be awarded via a random drawing of submissions. Twenty others will receive a free phone charger. Let’s celebrate those who inspire us and see how many “keys” we can find!

To participate:
1.    Visit the COABE Facebook page to submit your photo or video.
2.    Post your key to success and tell us why he or she inspires you in adult education.
3.    Like COABE’s Facebook page for AEFL Week updates. This enables us to contact you if you win one of the prizes.


The ABC’s of Investing in Adult Education–In 140 Characters or Less!
With thanks to Tom Sticht, COABE is publishing tweets Mr. Sticht has prepared using his well-known ABC’s of Investing in Adult Education. Tweet one-per-day starting September 1st-26th to help raise awareness of adult education. Find the ready-made tweets here that you can use or adapt as your own.





Share Your AEFL Week Activities With COABE
Are you conducting an activity or event for National AEFL Week? Share what you are doing with COABE and we will feature it in our October Monthly Update (October 1, 2015). Email COABE at advocacy@coabe.org with your information and updates. Feel free to attach documents, photos, and or videos pertaining to your activity.

The House is Home During National AEFL Week! Schedule your Congressional Office Visit Today
The House is on Congressional Recess September 21-26, during National AEFL Week! This is a great time to meet with your U.S. Representatives locally and educate them on your adult education program successes and needs. The adult education field needs more Congressional champions for adult education and building relationships with them can help ensure we have champions nationwide.
Begin today by calling the scheduler at the DC office. Some DC offices may refer you to a state or regional office but start with the DC office first. Bring a team of about five individuals; two program directors and three students or graduates, carefully choosing the best who have been prepared to tell their stories. Bring information and data from your program, but the focus of the meeting (which usually lasts only 15-20 minutes) should be for the legislator to hear the students’ and/or graduates’ stories.

If you are unable to schedule a meeting in September, find out when the legislator will be home next and get on his or her calendar. Having one or more legislative champions from your state is critical. While the legislator(s) may not be involved in committees that impact adult education funding now, they may be in the future–and may even run for President!

Appropriations
302(b) Allocations–Less $ to go around

As a part of the annual appropriations process, each appropriations subcommittee is allocated a certain amount of funding under the full Committee’s allocation.  These allocations (called 302(b) allocations) establish the cap on spending for each of the 12 appropriations bills.  Each subcommittee then determines how that money is spent among the agencies and programs under its jurisdiction. 

The FY16 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (“Labor-HHS-ED”)  bill was allocated $153 billion in discretionary funding – a reduction of $3.7 billion below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $14.6 billion below the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2016. This means that unless something changes, there is less money to go around and advocates for programs have a tougher road ahead. 

Appropriations Bills Pass Out of Committee
In June, both the House and Senate passed their respective FY16 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS-ED) appropriations bills out of committee on party-line votes.  The House bill level-funds adult education state grants, while cutting $3.5 million from national leadership activities.

The Senate bill includes a $29 million cut for adult education state grants and a $6 million cut for national leadership programs.  The Murray Substitute Amendment would have restored the cuts but it did not pass.

What was most surprising were the cuts made by the Senate, which has historically supported adult education. While neither bill is expected to see floor action, the cuts serve as a marker for future appropriations bills or budget deals.

The fiscal year ends September 30th. This is when new appropriations bills must be enacted or a short-term funding bill, known as a Continuing Resolution (CR) (or series of CRs) must be put in place in order to prevent a government shutdown. Time is quickly running out for Congress and the Administration to strike a budget deal. So it is anticipated that Congress will pass a CR before the fiscal year ends, giving Congress additional time to work on a final appropriations package.
 

Proposed Reductions to the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)
In addition to cuts proposed to adult education, the House Appropriations Committee proposed to cut IES by $164 million (27 percent below FY 2015 levels). IES supports federally funded research in education. While its research is predominantly K-12, it does fund some adult education and adult literacy research (which is already sparse, at best). Future research funding in our field could be marginalized even further if these proposed cuts were to be realized. COABE will continue to monitor the situation and keep you posted.

COABE Signs on to the Nondefense Discretionary (NDD) United’s Letter to Stop Sequestration in Favor of a Balanced Approach to Deficit Reduction
The current budget framework, under which the House and Senate are writing their appropriations bills, abides by the sequestered Budget Control Act (BCA) caps. The levels of funding are inadequate because they fail to make the needed nondefense discretionary (NDD) investments in order to help families succeed and promote a strong economy. COABE signed on to the NDD United Letter, joining thousands of programs across sectors in urging Congress to take a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and Input on State Plans
On June 15, the initial public review and feedback period on the draft WIOA regulations ended. COABE submitted feedback, which can be found under the legislative tab on the COABE website. Now is the time to focus on states as they write Unified or Combined State Plans. Public hearings and other opportunities for input are being offered. While these plans are due to the Secretary of Labor by March 1, 2016, it is anticipated that most plans will be completed by January 1st . Contact your state office to learn when the next public input opportunity is scheduled. Be at the table!

Request for Comments on WIOA Performance Information Collection
From the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education:
The departments of Labor and Education are soliciting comments concerning a collection of data that will be used to demonstrate that specified performance levels under the WIOA have been achieved. The WIOA Performance Management, Information, and Reporting System fulfills requirements in section 116(d) (1) of the act for the development of report templates for 1) the State Performance Report for WIOA’s six core programs; 2) the Local Area Performance Report for the three Title I programs; and 3) the Eligible Training Provider Report for the Title I Adult and Dislocated Worker programs.

A copy of the proposed Information Collection Request with applicable supporting documentation may be accessed at http://www.regulations.gov by selecting Docket ID number ETA-2015-0007. The comment period is open for 60 days and closes on Sept. 21, 2015. Any comments not received through the processes outlined in the Federal Register will not be considered by the departments.

Elections!
As candidates running in the primaries for President of the United States hit the campaign trail, now is the time to ask them about their level of support for adult education funding. Attend town halls, submit questions about adult education to their staff and volunteers, and provide them information via social media. Let’s get the best candidates in office who strongly support – and won’t cut – adult education funding. If you had the opportunity to ask a candidate questions about adult education, what would you ask? Send us your questions to advocacy@coabe.org.

Recommitting to the COABE Contact Network for Program Year 2015-2016
Each year, state associations and local programs appoint a contact person for the COABE Contact Network. These individuals agree to move federal level advocacy alerts, when needed, throughout their local, regional, or state advocacy network and ensure a timely response. While COABE is working for you at the federal level, ultimately legislators want to hear from their constituents. In these instances, contacts in COABE’s Network step forward, when needed, to help educate their legislators and staffs on adult education issues. Legislative staffs, in particular, keep legislators informed and offer recommendations. As adult educators, it is our responsibility to keep the legislators’ staffs up to speed so that the legislators can make the best decisions as possible for adult education. Anyone can volunteer to be a part of the COABE Contact Network. Sign up or recommit today by emailing advocacy@coabe.org


August 2015WIOA Implementation: What Practitioners Need to Know

The federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) took effect on July 1. As states move from the theoretical to the practical, what do adult educators need to know? Join COABE and National Skills Coalition for a hands-on review of WIOA's key implications for the adult education field. Presenter Amanda Bergson-Shilcock will provide an overview of the current WIOA landscape, including opportunities for adult educators to weigh in on implementation issues in their states and localities.  Click here to register.


July 2015Funding Career Pathways: A Federal Funding Toolkit for States (Revised Edition)

Earlier editions of CLASP's Career Pathways Funding Toolkit were widely cited and used at the federal, state, and local levels. The newest edition includes revised program profiles reflecting the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act legislative and administrative changes to key federal programs. Of all the elements of career pathways, support services are among the most important to student success; they also are the most difficult to fund. An updated appendix identifies 10 federal funding sources that can be used to provide a wide range of support services for participants in career pathways. CLASP developed the Funding Career Pathways toolkit to help interagency state teams identify and use federal resources to support these models. The toolkit has four sections:


July 2015Policy Leadership Networking 

Since the establishment of the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) in 1964, the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) has been at the core of  the Institute's work to serve as a catalyst for improvements to the education system. IEL's mission is: To equip leaders to work together across boundaries to build effective systems that prepare children and youth for postsecondary education, careers, and citizenship.
 
 The EPFP serves this mission by providing a unique professional and personal development laboratory for applying new insights and cultivating new skills in the areas of educational policy, leadership, and networking. This 10-month professional development program has been fundamental to developing leaders in the education field across the country for more than half a century.
 
 Learn more about the EPFP experience on our website and share this email broadly with your networks.  Each state's web page provides specific information about the programs, including start dates, schedules, and applications.


May 2015—WIOA & Adult Education: A webinar for the Literacy Funders Network

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On May 18, NSC's Senior Policy Analyst Amanda Bergson-Shilcock discussed the implications and opportunities for adult literacy, literacy providers, and low-literate individuals in the new Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA). Click here to watch the recording or download the slides.


April 2015—Empowering Today's Economy by Training Tomorrow's Workforce

I wanted to revisit and draw your attention to a blog posted a few weeks ago. Education Secretary Duncan and Labor Secretary Perez wrote to a joint blog post. Empowering Today's Economy by Training Tomorrow's Workforce. The post highlights the importance of business engagement and partnership as we begin implementation on the Workforce innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and directly encourages the business community to get involved and provide ideas.

WIOA gives businesses an unprecedented opportunity to partner with adult education programs, workforce development boards, school districts, community colleges, nonprofits and others nationwide to build career pathways for frontline and other workers, and to drive and support regional sector strategies that meet the workforce needs of employers. As Secretaries Duncan and Perez shared, we want to hear from you. Please share the blog post link widely with your networks and send your ideas and comments to AskAEFLA@ed.gov. Together, we can make skills everyone's business.

Best wishes,

Johan Uvin
Acting Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education