Response to Paul J. Jurmo by Art Ellison
Posted by Jessica Gilmour on November 24, 2020 in categoryFacts & Research

ProLiteracy is pleased to highlight “Response to Paul J. Jurmo,” by Art Ellison, former N.H. state director of adult education and member of the N.H. House Education Committee. This article is featured in Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and NumeracyProLiteracy’s free online, peer-reviewed research journal created to inform practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and funders about best practices in adult literacy, numeracy, and English language education. 

An excerpt of “Response to Paul J. Jurmo” is highlighted below.  

Paul Jurmo’s “Ten Actions to Build an Adult Basic Skills Development System That is More Inclusive, Relevant, Efficient and Sustained” reviews the recent history of the adult education field and then sets out 10 actions that would substantially improve the delivery system for adult education services in this country.  

My reactions to the Paul’s action steps are informed by 38 years as the New Hampshire State Director of Adult Education and 2 years as a member of the New Hampshire House serving on the Education Committee.  

As Paul says the “idea of building better coordinated systems of services” is not new. Adult educators have struggled with that concept for much of the last 40 years. This issue has come into even more focus in the last six years with the emphasis in federal adult education legislation (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act [WIOA] of 2014) focusing adult education funding on workforce training. This change left some in the adult education community fighting for a concept of adult education that is much broader than that contained in the new federal law.  

An example of this movement can be seen in the Integrated Education and Training portion of WIOA. This title replaced the English Language Civics title in the earlier legislation (Workforce Investment Act of 1994). This section of the law was funded with about 12% of the adult education yearly appropriation. Under the English Language Civics portion of WIA adult education programs developed high quality civic literacy programs (as Paul notes in 2. Re-define those we serve and how basic skills limitations can impact them) that helped students become involved in their communities by understanding how policies were made in their local community and how they could participate in that process. Under WIOA that aspect of the English Language Civics program was greatly reduced in favor of workforce training. 


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