Adult Education Leaders Working to Increase Career Readiness for America’s Adults Meet with New Education Secretary and Congress to Seek Support

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As part of a campaign to improve access to adult education and skills
programs that dramatically increase job opportunities, leaders of two
major adult education organizations met this week with U.S. Secretary of
Education Betsy DeVos and more than 80 members of Congress and
staff. Tens of millions of adults in America can’t read or compute
simple math. They are often unable to find work or qualify for job
training programs.

According to officials from the Coalition
on Adult Basic Education
 (COABE) and the National Council of State
Directors of Adult Education (NCSDAE), Secretary DeVos told the leaders
she is committed to strengthening adult college and career readiness and
is eager to find innovative and high-tech solutions to help. The
meetings came as COABE members, joined by various adult education state
directors, fanned out across Washington for the spring Capitol Hill Day.

The two organizations, which represent more than 55,000 adult education
teachers and administrators, recently launched the national Educate
& Elevate
 campaign to raise awareness about and ensure funding
critical to support adult education programs nationwide.

The United States consistently scores below the international average in
literacy, numeracy, and modern problem-solving, according to the National
Center for Education Statistics
. One in six adults in the U.S. lacks
basic reading skills and cannot read a job application, understand basic
written instructions, or navigate the Internet. Two out of every six
adults in the U.S. cannot understand basic numbers, like working a cash
register or understanding a transit schedule, as COABE and NCSDAE
leaders pointed out.

“The Secretary assured us she is very interested in finding innovations
and new technologies to help the 36 million adults in America who can’t
read job ads or qualify for job-training programs,” said COABE’s
president Tom Nash Director of Adult Education for RSU #14 – Windham
Raymond School District in Windham, Maine. “We thank the Secretary for
her interest and look forward to working with her and the Department of
Education.” A goal of the Trump administration is to provide more job
opportunities for American workers, therefore the leaders discussed the
need to prepare more adults to fill current and newly created job
openings at all levels. Adults with a high school diploma or equivalency
certificate are more likely than those without to work full time, earn
an average of $30,000 a year or more, and are better able to lift
themselves above the family poverty line.

“It’s time that we move beyond the concept of ‘leave no child behind.’
Today we need everyone pulling together so that adults, too, can move
ahead with the skills they need to find and get good jobs, support
families, and minimize strain on social and legal services in our
communities nationwide,” Sharon Bonney, COABE’s executive director added.

Federal and state funds support the majority of adult education
programs. These funds have served approximately 1.5 million adults a
year of the 36 million adult Americans in need. Budget decisions are
pending for appropriations to support the bipartisan Workforce
Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). This act was overwhelmingly
approved by Congress in 2014 to transform the nation’s adult education

“The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is a game changer
that will transform our work in preparing students to compete in today’s
workforce,” said Reecie Stagnolia, incoming chair of the National
Council of State Directors of Adult Education (NCSDAE) and vice
president for adult education, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary
Education. “Adult education is a wise investment in America’s future
that will yield a significant return. Improving the educational
attainment of our adults prepares them for successful transition to
college and careers and is an economic catalyst for global

Nationwide, many potential students languish on waiting lists, some
can’t afford transportation to get to distant classes, and some without
child care are unable to attend night or weekend classes. Secretary
DeVos, COABE, and NCSDAE leaders pledged to look for strategies to
connect with more adult students through innovative technologies and
informational campaigns.

Following the meeting, the leaders expressed confidence that Secretary
DeVos would consider adult education a priority in her policy agenda.
“It was truly an honor to meet with Secretary DeVos and discuss the
critical role our nation’s adult education system plays in increasing
the education and skills of our adult population,” said Stagnolia.

Other leaders at the meeting included Kaye Sharbono, COABE’s incoming
president and adult education leader in Louisiana, and Patricia Tyler,
executive director of NCSDAE. The hour-long session concluded a
successful day of meetings with more than 80 Congressional members and

ABOUT COABE: The Coalition for Adult Basic Education represents
educators, administrators, mentors and others nationwide who work to
expand and create new opportunities for adults to access and master the
skills they need to compete and build careers and better futures for
themselves, their families, and their communities.

ABOUT NCSDAE: The National Council of State Directors of Adult Education
promotes adult education at the state and national level, supports
executive and legislative efforts to help adult students, and
facilitates the exchange of ideas and best practices to maximize the
impact of adult college readiness and job training services nationwide.


Coalition on Adult Basic Education
Sharon Bonney, 888-44-COABE