Legislative Talking Points
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Legislative Talking Points
Legislative Fast Facts
Mothers and fathers who learn basic skills are better equipped to help their children succeed. Research shows that “better-educated parents raise better-educated, more successful, children who are less likely to end up in poverty or prison.
By neglecting the adults who need services, we affect their children as well. Almost 60 percent of children whose parents don’t have a college education live in low-income families and are less likely themselves to get a good education and qualify for family-sustaining jobs.
Educating adults creates stronger communities. Higher education levels are correlated with lower rates of chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma, and a mother’s education level is the highest determinate of her child’s academic success. Inmate participation in adult education reduces recidivism by 29 percent.
Adult education is a smart investment. Low-skilled adults are:
2x more likely to be unemployed
3x more likely to be in poverty
4x more likely to be in poor health
8x more likely to be incarcerated
Employers can teach job skills but aren't qualified to teach basic literacy, numeracy, and soft skills. That is a role for the adult education system. With adult education we can train these students to fill jobs that industry needs today.
We cannot depend on a robust economy to solve this problem. A stronger economy will bring people back into the workforce, but it won’t train them. According to Alan Daley’s “Overcoming the Skills Shortage,” “More than 75 percent of manufacturers report moderate to severe skill shortages and up to 11 percent revenue losses from increased production cost and sales losses due to those shortages. Service industries are hardest hit. Thirty-three percent of all small businesses say they cannot identify candidates qualified for job openings. Forty-three percent of small business owners say unfilled jobs are impeding their growth or expansion.”
In 2017, 36 million adults in the U.S. have limited English or reading skills and more than 60 million can’t perform simple math.
More than half of all jobs (54 percent) in the U.S. today are middle-skill jobs that require more than a high school diploma, but not a four-year degree. Yet, only 44 percent of workers are trained to the middle-skill level.
We need all available workers ready to help our country compete. Unfortunately, since 2001 funding for adult education, when adjusted for inflation, has fallen by 25.3 percent. If enacted, additional cuts to education funding in FY 2018 will have a substantial impact on adult education.
Adult education state grants have been essentially flat-funded since FY 2002, a reduction of more than 25 percent in real terms, while enrollment has declined by 44 percent, most sharply among those who most need adult education and workforce skills services. Demand for services across the country far exceeds supply.
Federally funded adult education programs serve only a small fraction of adults in the United States with limited English, math, or reading skills. Federal funding and enrollment have declined from over $700 million and 2.8 million students in 2001, to $582 million and 1.5 million learners in 2016.
What Is Adult Education?
Adult education serves adults, 16 years of age and older, who are no longer enrolled in school or required by state law to be enrolled, and who are functioning below the high school completion level. Services include teaching foundation skills in the disciplines of reading, math, and English, coupled with college and career readiness skills that lead to employment or the transition to postsecondary education. Public schools, community colleges, libraries, and community-based organizations offer programs at the local level.
Providers of adult education are accountable for improving the literacy and numeracy skills of their students as measured by regularly-administered standardized assessments, transitioning students to postsecondary education, employment or job training, the attainment of a high school diploma or its equivalent, and earnings outcomes. Adult educators also help parents obtain the educational skills necessary to become full partners in the education of their children.
Low education and skill levels of adults are fundamental barriers to virtually every major challenge facing the United States, including early childhood education, education reform, economic development, and improving the health and well-being of the nation’s families and communities.
WIOA recognizes the crucial role adult education plays in teaching English and civics and preparing adults to enter the workforce or improve their employment status. WIOA established adult education as one of four key partners in a system of education and training that emphasizes greater integration of adult education and the workforce system and greater emphasis on college and career readiness. Adult education is now a key element in a comprehensive system of education and training.
WIOA cannot succeed unless Congress supports it adequately. Adult education grants are currently funded at $644 million, well below the $649.3 million bipartisan, unanimously authorized amount for FY 2018 in WIOA.
HOW TO ARRANGE AND CONDUCT A VISIT WITH A LEGISLATOR, LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT (LA), OR REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE
While face to face meetings may take more time to plan and follow up, they are the most effective way to communicate. A great opportunity to meet with your federal legislator is during Congressional recess when legislators are in their home districts.
BEFORE THE VISIT
Deciding With Whom to Meet
Even if you are unable to schedule a meeting with your legislator due to scheduling conflicts, the LA ultimately advises the legislator on the vote and is the person who actually drafts legislative language for consideration by the committees in the Senate and House. LAs also have a high turnover rate as they advance quickly throughout their legislative careers. One never knows where he or she will end up; running an elections campaign, becoming head over an agency, or joining the staff at the White House. Meeting with the legislator, the LA, or the regional representative are all very effective approaches for educating the legislator on adult education issues.
While one-to-one meetings can be very effective, it’s usually helpful to have a small group meet with the legislator, LA, or regional representative. Choose your group before scheduling the meeting.