ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, expressed disappointment today over the spending bill passed by Congress January 16 that cut $30,000 in adult education funding.
“After the Skills 2013 report released in October showed that the United States ranks 16th out of 24 countries in adult basic competencies, Congress had both the opportunity and the motivation to make significant and lasting change in adult literacy and basic education,” says Kevin Morgan, interim president and CEO of ProLiteracy. “Instead, the adult literacy field is yet again overlooked, left to claim that a cut of only $30,000 is actually a win.”
The new spending bill will fund the government through September 2014. The bill rolls back some past spending cuts, raises federal worker pay, and boosts some aspects of education—namely early childhood and preschool.
“We applaud Congress for increasing support to K-12 and preschool education,” says Morgan. “But we know the greatest determinant of a child’s academic success is the reading level of his or her mother. Funding early childhood and preschool education without also addressing adult education is failing to find comprehensive and sustainable solutions to low literacy in our country.”
In reality, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, children of parents who had not completed high school scored lower in vocabulary assessments than children of parents with a high school degree or equivalent, and parents with a high school diploma or a GED certificate are 11 percent more likely to assist their children with homework than those who did not complete high school.
Currently, according to the latest data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), some 36 million American adults struggle to read, write, do basic math, and operate in a digital environment above a third grade level, unable to fill out a job application, read a simple book to their children or grandchildren, or understand a prescription label.
“Adult literacy and basic education are crucial to the success of public education, as well as, providing people with employment opportunities, creating and maintaining stable civic engagement, and ensuring safe and healthy communities,” Morgan continues. “We urge Congress to reconsider funding for adult education when negotiations over budget are renewed in the fall.”