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ProLiteracy Answers President Obama's Call to Educational Excellence and Economic Growth
SYRACUSE, NY, Jan. 26, 2011 — ProLiteracy, the world's largest organization of adult literacy and basic education programs, today commended President Obama for his call to invest in educational excellence during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, but also noted the critical need to increase support for adult learners.
ProLiteracy President and CEO David C. Harvey said, "While we applaud the President's emphasis on education as the key to keeping the United States competitive in the world economy, 30 million adults in the U.S. have such low levels of literacy that higher education is effectively out of their reach. Our adult education system currently serves only about 3 million of those in need. We will not meet the President's higher education goals unless we also invest in basic skills instruction to a substantially larger number of adult learners."
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment nationwide among the least educated adults has risen to 15.5 percent since 2008—much higher than the national average. A number of factors have contributed to the adult literacy crisis in this country, including the failure to diagnose and accommodate learning disabilities, high school dropouts/failing schools, and immigration. ProLiteracy's member organizations help adults improve basic literacy skills, learn English, and obtain a GED—all of which are important for finding and retaining jobs.
ProLiteracy is calling on Congress to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) this year, which provides job training funds for adults, dislocated workers, and youth and is the major source of federal funding for adult literacy and basic education programs. It has not been reauthorized since it was originally passed over a decade ago.
"Providing basic literacy to adults in the United States is extremely cost effective," said Harvey. "With adequate funding, well-established adult basic education programs and community literacy organizations can have enormous impact in helping people get the skills they need to find jobs, earn wages, improve health outcomes, and strengthen communities."