To the Editor:
The Jan. 26 blog post “Workforce Training Programs Should Consider Equity, Acting Ed. Secretary Says” poses a compelling case for the federal government to make sure that equity is the watchword for implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, or WIOA.
While WIOA is explicit that low-income people and those with employment barriers are priority populations, the regulations around this legislation seem to focus instead on funding for entities providing service to those striving for career and college readiness.
Approximately 36 million American adults are at the lowest literacy skill levels—years away from entering the workforce or qualifying for college. ProLiteracy applauds acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.'s hope that “job-training facilities, community colleges, and adult-education providers will think about the needs of English-language learners, minority students, low-income students, students with disabilities, parents, and other ‘nontraditional’ students as they implement WIOA,” as is stated in the blog post.
While the number of adults seeking literacy instruction keeps growing, overall funding for literacy programs has dropped. Without additional federal resources to help the large population of adults most in need, the cycle of income inequality that diminishes economic growth will continue.
Strong adult-literacy and -education programs bring a powerful return on investment, improving the lives of the adult learners and their families and the economic development of communities. Adult-literacy programs are crucial to building a skilled 21st-century workforce, supporting sustainable economic recovery, and alleviating poverty for everyone.
President and Chief Executive Officer
A version of this article appeared in the February 24, 2016 edition of Education Week as For Workforce-Training Programs, Literacy Skills Are Key