What does commitment to equity and anti-racism mean in adult education?

Many of us choose to work in adult education to advance economic and social opportunity through education for adults whose limited foundational skills hold them back. Most of us recognize that foundational skills alone do not guarantee economic success, but they do improve the odds as an essential milestone in people’s education journey. In the context of a rampant triple pandemic of COVID, racism, and economic inequality, the cards are stacked heavily against adult learners.  The brutal inequalities have been laid bare even though they have always existed.  The question for us as a field is what should be adult education’s role in addressing these systemic inequalities.

Like so many of our colleagues and partner organizations, we at World Education are taking a hard look at what does a true commitment to equity and anti-racism mean in our work in adult education and workforce development.  The lives and needs of adult learners have always been our North Star at World Education.   Perhaps the longest-standing, concrete expression of our commitment to social justice in adult education is our Change Agent magazine that we have published since 1995 as a teaching and learning resource.  Through it we lift and honor learners’ voices and experiences around important topics that matter to adults and encourage social action.

Our collective commitment to advancing access to high-quality adult education and digital inclusion does address equity in education opportunity, but in and of itself falls short of active anti-racism even if the majority of adult learners who benefit from our efforts are Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), US-born and immigrant.  It does not address structural barriers to help meet people’s basic needs for food, affordable housing, health care, or paid sick leave so that they can focus on their studies.

What then should be adult education’s purpose and role in the bigger context of adult learners’ lives?  Recent interviews with adult education leaders around the country revealed a distinct divide in this regard. As one interviewee put it: “If most students are in adult education because they want to have better economic opportunities and a career, why don’t we have a system that reflects that desire?”  In contrast, in a recent article, Ira Yankwitt, Director of New York City’s Literacy Assistance Center argues, “. . .that it is only by aligning ourselves with grassroots movements for justice that we can hope to also build the movement we need to elevate the importance of adult literacy education, increase funding, and advocate for a system that makes it possible for our students to truly realize their lifelong and life-wide goals”  (AEL Journal, spring 2020). By lifewide learning Dr. Reder refers to learning to meet diverse goals adults have as family and community members, not just as workers.

To begin with, as a field, we need to increase our understanding of the insidious impact of systemic racism and economic inequality. In the US Division, our regular discussions of readings and videos help deepen our understanding and complement a more far-reaching organization-wide plan.   We applaud our colleagues at Literacy Minnesota who offer a free Social Justice in Education certificate program online.  We commit to increasing our professional development offerings that help educators and adult learners to deepen their learning and sharing of lived experiences and elevate their voices.

A more holistic, multi-sector approach could increase the impact of adult education as a driver of economic mobility, and social and racial justice.  We can look to and learn from efforts such as the Literacy & Justice Initiative led by the Literacy Assistance Center in New York City that builds alliances between adult literacy programs and grassroots social justice organizations and connects classroom instruction to systemic change.  In our home state, the Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education advocates for adult education AND economic justice, policies, such as emergency paid sick time, and eviction and foreclosure moratorium.  We also draw  inspiration from our SEIU union partners and their tireless advocacy for better working conditions and social justice.

Stay tuned and join our dialog as we ramp up our efforts to advance racial, economic, and social justice in the adult education context and for the benefit of all of us.

The Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement Pay for Success Project

Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement is the first Pay for Success project to focus exclusively on adult education and workforce development for low-skilled adults. This innovative program model is being implemented by Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) at five program sites in Greater Boston. Pay for Success program models are unique because private investors provide up-front capital to proven, high-performing education, training, or social service providers to deliver services, and the government pays the investors back with interest if the agreed-upon outcomes are achieved.

The MA Pathways project goal is to promote economic mobility of low-skilled English language learners and ultimately generate more public dollars through increased tax revenue as participants obtain new or better-paying jobs or through savings in public expenditures as people utilize fewer public supports. Pay for Success programs started in the UK, and there are now more than two dozen projects being implemented in the US, for example, to reduce recidivism or homelessness.  But until 2016, there have been none in adult basic education/workforce development when the Massachusetts project was funded at $12.43 million.

That funding pays for a generous cost per student at an average of $5,300, as well as a rigorous, random assignment third-party evaluation, and the effort it takes to line up investors willing to invest in the program. It enables JVS to serve nearly 2,000 English language learners in four tracks each of which blends English instruction and employment services:

  1. Rapid Employment – provides vocational English and job training services to adults, many of whom are refugees looking to secure a first job immediately
  2. English for Advancement – provides English language instruction and job placement for students seeking re-employment or job advancement
  3. Skills Training – provides specific vocational training, certification and job placement in the healthcare or hospitality sector
  4. Bridges to College – provides remedial math, science, and English Language Arts to support individuals seeking to transition into higher education

Students attend between 7 and 35 hours per week, and the program follows up with them post-placement for 2 years.  The measurement timeframe is six years, but the direct service component is three years.

Interview with Jerry Rubin, CEO of JVS

  • Why did you, JVS, decide to go for this Pay for Success program model?

Several reasons: First, we had as part of our business plan, a goal to expand our services to Massachusetts “Gateway Cities”  because they have large populations of adults that could benefit from our services and tend not to have strong workforce development infrastructures, but we had no financing mechanism. The Commonwealth’s interest in a project to serve English language learners and increase their earned income was the perfect solution. The second reason was that we have a strong view that traditional, publicly funded adult ESOL programs could be designed much better to achieve economic opportunity and we wanted to demonstrate that if you focus the programs on what most people are looking for – better economic opportunity – adult learners would benefit more. Our model combines contextualized English language instruction with employment services and career coaching. And third, we were intrigued by the idea that the State would pay for ESOL services with a performance-based contract with meaningful outcomes verified by their own data, (a real breakthrough for the workforce development field), and only upon successful delivery.

  • Isn’t there a high risk for you?

The biggest risk to JVS is if we are not successful our reputation would suffer. The financial risk was limited because we get our funding in advance as working capital. As it turned out, because Pay for Success is new and complicated, it took longer than expected to finalize the contract.  To be most successful, we wanted to start classes in the fall when students are traditionally looking for ESOL classes, so we ended up starting classes with our own money before the closing of the financing.  A second complicating factor is that one part of the project is geared toward refugees, and it is entirely focused on immigrants, and the project went into effect the same week as the Muslim ban and a huge reduction in refugees being admitted into the country. There was a point in time that we were worried that the project might not go forward, but it did, and was ultimately over-subscribed.

  • Is this just performance-based funding with a new name?

It’s true the concept of pay-for-performance is not new to workforce development, and JVS has other performance–based contracts. What’s new is that if you want to scale, you need working capital to run it, and the Pay for Success model provides that by using investor dollars that the State then pays back based on project outcomes and success. This also means that if the project fails, the investors take the lion’s share of the financial risk.

  • Was it difficult to raise the necessary funds?

No.  Raising the capital wasn’t the biggest challenge to the project.  There’s a lot of wealth and many people want to do something beneficial with their money. There are not that many social impact deals for them to invest in. But we could not have done this project ourselves. Social Finance is our partner, and they negotiated with the State for the payment terms and they raised the capital.

  • How are the early outcomes?

It is going well so far. Our internal data is showing an average of about 50% earnings gain for our students placed in jobs. The data on which investor payments are made is earnings data from the State.  The fourth and largest track is English for Advancement with about 1,000 students. That’s being evaluated with a randomized controlled trial where students’ wage gains are compared to a control group of students who were screened and eligible but not accepted into the program.  This data is not yet available.  Also, we don’t measure the educational gains of our ESOL students because the goal is to get someone a better job. The educational gains don’t matter in that equation.

  • Will the investors get their money back and at what interest rate? When is the payout?

There have been several small payments to date to the investors based on enrollment. The major payments will start this spring (2019) based on the wage data from the State, and continue quarterly if success continues to be achieved through the end of the project.

  • What lessons have you learned so far?

We have learned that this can be done though it’s not easy. We’re learning that you can design adult education differently and get good results. You do what is measured.

We have learned that how you think it’ll go won’t be the way it goes.   You need to track implementation and early outcomes closely and make rapid adjustments. There is no room for failure here.

  • Have there been any challenges and how have you addressed them?

This was a significant scaling up of our work to date. We had to figure out how to start up classes in many new locations, hire instructors and career coaches – all kinds of operational challenges. We had high expectations for our community partners for recruitment goals and some didn’t come through, so we had to terminate some of our agreements.

There were two big changes in the environment: one was when refugee admissions stopped. Also, the unemployment rate dropped significantly from the time we planned the project. People tend to go to school when they’re not as busy with work. Therefore, recruitment was more challenging than we expected.

  • What about very beginning level adult learners? Could the Pay for Success program model work for them?

Absolutely! We serve beginning level adult learners in this project. The majority of our students speak very limited English when we meet them (some even complete the intake process in their native language). As a workforce development agency, we are very successful at delivering contextualized ESOL and building connections with employers who need talent.  We also build people’s social capital and their confidence to get them into better jobs.

  • Would you recommend this program and funding model to be scaled and why?

First, we need to see what our big outcomes are like. I’m optimistic but need to see that the early outcomes are reflected in the full outcomes. We as an organization were ready for this. We were frustrated by traditional ESOL program models.  This program model is not for the faint of heart or those who are risk-averse.  You need to be able to make adjustments on the fly when things are not going as you anticipated.

  • How do you envision these types of programs can become sustainable?

Ideally, we’d like to see this kind of model built into the State’s procurement for adult education at least for a portion of programs. They’d have to pay more per student to get these kinds of results.  And, some version of Pay for Success could be part of it.  That would be real system change.

  • You wrote in a recent article that you believe Pay for Success models have the potential to transform workforce development and adult education. How so?

When you are literally paid for success, it drives program quality.  If you’re measuring wage gains, which is possible, your program design will result in people getting better jobs and increased wages. Right now adult education and workforce development are separate. This model merges the two. The reason you want to merge them is that’s what people want and need.  This model produces genuinely meaningful outcomes for both the clients and the Commonwealth, which is transformative.

Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz: Elections Have Consequences

In its annual Global Voices event in October, World Education presented its 2018 award to Massachusetts Senator Sonia Chang-Díaz.  She is the first Latina elected to the Massachusetts Senate, serving there since 2009.  World Education recognized her for a being a tireless, long-time champion of education for children and adults.  Social justice is the consistent thread in the legislation that Senator Chang-Díaz advocates for and advances, be it in economic development and equity, immigrant rights, criminal justice reform, or women’s health.

We thank her for always standing with the vulnerable, the people whose needs, talents, and potential are so often overlooked in our society.  We share her excerpted award acceptance speech at the eve of the November 6 elections to urge everyone to heed her words.

Coming from an organization with a deep, long-standing commitment to the causes of education and equity, this award is a real honor for me. As someone coming from within the halls of government, where we are frustratingly slow to do the right thing sometimes: it’s particularly meaningful to receive it from an organization that’s getting in there, getting the real work of change-making done on the ground every day, not waiting for the conditions to be perfect or the economy to up-turn or for there to be perfect consensus or for the work to be easier.

In more than 20 countries around the world, you’re putting a book into parents’ hands, a teacher at the head of a classroom, a child back into the protective environment of the schoolhouse. In states across our beloved country, you’re expanding opportunities for adult education — training teachers and supporting direct-service organizations.

Every session, I work to scale these same kinds of straightforward actions:

  • Working to give young people viable economic options so they don’t pick up guns instead.
  • Agitating to increase funding for Adult Basic Education, to meet the demand of parents and immigrants who desperately want to contribute to our society and to their families.
  • Fighting to close yawning opportunity gaps in our preK-12 education system.

Here we are in the election season. And the cold, hard, and also empowering truth is that elections have consequences. Those policy consequences can be destructive, to be sure. But they also have the potential to be incredibly constructive. It was here in Massachusetts, after all, that the first public school was founded in the U.S. — a move that set us on a long path toward democratizing knowledge and learning… A legacy we’re still working to deliver on today.

Politics and elections also gave us Justice Thurgood Marshall, Title IX, and equal civil rights for transgender Bay Staters. They gave us K-12 school systems that don’t ask for your immigration status when you show up to enroll. In 2011, they gave us state redistricting maps in Massachusetts that doubled the number of “majority minority” state representative districts. And in this past term alone, elections and politics in MA produced watershed criminal justice system reforms, a $15 minimum wage, and the best paid family leave policy in the United States.

As frustrated as we all are with what’s going on in politics right now, government remains a powerful and necessary tool to solve the systemic obstacles faced by students of all ages. And we need to reclaim it.

As World Education’s work has demonstrated, we need to take a holistic approach to our strategy for making change. We need immediate support for vulnerable individuals and communities — right alongside the slower, long-term, but tectonic changes we can create through government.

A good justice-seeker, a good change-maker also seeks to put herself out of business. To create true, long-lasting social justice, we need the tools of government. We need power. We need to remember that politics is not a dirty word. Whether it’s municipal, state, congressional, or national politics in another country where your heart lies, we must match our immediate solutions with long-term policy and power-building. So, don’t you dare give up on politics and elections, no matter how frustrated you may feel. The consequences, and the potential, are too big.

So let’s make a promise to each other here, OK? I won’t give up if you won’t.

Are you going to show the heck up on election day?

Are you going to take a friend, a child, a parent to the polls with you to prevent family separations at national borders, and establish fair and humane policies that recognize immigrants for the assets they are?

Are you going to agitate after Election Day to ensure that every student has the education they need to become the leaders, thinkers, artists, citizens, and public servants our world so desperately needs today!

I won’t give up if you won’t, friends. I’m honored to be on this team with you. Let’s go get ‘em!

Why Everyone Should Care About Adult Education

This week is the Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. In most communities, it is much like every other week of the year when it comes to adult education – away from the limelight, without resources to shine the light on why we would even have a national Adult Education and Family Literacy Week.  After all, why should anyone care about the 36+ million adults in the U.S. whose academic skills are well below high school level or who have limited English proficiency?  We, adult educators, of course, care because we witness the benefits to individuals, families, and communities from newly gained competencies, credentials, and self-confidence.  But why should any of this matter to others?  What should we, adult educators, tell them?

First, to quote President Clinton, it’s “the economy, stupid.”  You can’t get a skilled workforce without more investment when 36 million adults are struggling with basic reading, writing and math, and digital literacy.  In an international assessment of adults’ skills in 23 developed nations, the U.S. did very poorly (OECD, 2013). U.S. adults even trailed their international counterparts in using computer skills to solve basic problems, such as archiving emails into pre-existing folders or looking up a train schedule to a specific destination.

We know first-hand that a lack of skills and confidence can hold people back from pursuing better jobs, promotions, and job training.  At the workplace education program that World Education runs with and for Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center, supervisors are committed to promoting from within, and so they prioritized a goal of getting hotel employees in our classes to participate in the in-house job shadowing program. Our teachers prepared and encouraged students to try it, helping them to build the confidence they needed to embrace this opportunity. The whole class eventually job shadowed in their department of choice, and now several are participating in a year-long mentoring program, some setting their sights on a promotion.

The Seaport program is just one small example of the positive work that adult educators, learners, and our partners are doing nationwide.  Adult education programs are, in fact, ramping up their efforts to better prepare adults for their next steps in education, training, and employment. The federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and state governments that fund them require that.  However, the combined federal and state funding of adult education can accommodate, at best, 3 million of the 36 million adults. That leaves 33 million adults without access to education and credentials, stuck in jobs that don’t pay a living wage, much less decent benefits.

Again, why should anyone else care?  All of us care about public safety, and adult education is known to play a positive role in improving it.  Nearly 40 percent of the incarcerated in the U.S. have low literacy and no high school diploma, which makes it doubly hard to gain a living legally when they are released.  That’s a lot of people for a country that has the highest number of its residents behind bars of any country (one in every 100 people). The good news is that inmates who participate in education programs have an over 40% lower recidivism rate than inmates who do not.  At the average annual cost of $32,000 per federal inmate per year that’s a big savings of taxpayer money.

Education also turns out to have a good return on investment in people’s health.  In the U.S., limited education tends to go hand in hand with poverty and poor health. The odds of reporting poor health are four times greater for low-skilled adults than for those with the highest proficiency in reading, writing, and math. Poor health means missed days at work, chronic diseases, and often costly visits to the emergency room.  Employers have every reason to care about their employees’ health and well-being, especially in this full-employment economy.

One more reason why we should all care about adult education: democracy.  Voter registration and turn-out rates correlate heavily with people’s level of education. The voting rate for adults without a high school diploma is over three times lower than for those with a Bachelor’s degree or higher. With the mid-term elections coming up, we should be concerned about voter turn-out -and the overall state of our democracy.

So during this Adult Education and Family Literacy Week we at World Education want to thank all the unsung heroes, the adult educators who teach and encourage their students to keep moving forward against many odds.  We adult educators also honor the dedication of our learners who juggle coming to class and studying after working long days and caring for their children…all for the dream of a better life for themselves and their families.

Propagating Promising Practices for Literacy and Workforce Development at Libraries

World Education is excited to partner with the Providence Public Library (PPL) as well as the Chicago and Los Angeles Public Libraries on a new project, Propagating Promising Practices for Literacy and Workforce Development at Libraries.  The goal of this project is to increase adults’ skills by capturing, disseminating, and growing innovative education and workforce development practices in public libraries across the U.S.; and positioning public libraries as effective and welcoming community hubs for lifelong learning, digital inclusion, and economic empowerment. This three-year project is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under its competitive National Leadership Grants.

The project builds upon and expands three practices already in place at the partner libraries:

Learning Lounges – a popular program at the Providence Public Library that serves as a place for adults to achieve their learning goals in an informal teacher- and technology-assisted environment. Job seekers may visit the Learning Lounge to get help with online job searches and applications, resume and cover letter writing, reading, writing and math skills, English language skills, and basic computer skills.

Mobile Learning – Los Angeles Public Library uses Cell-Ed, a mobile, bilingual English-Spanish learning service that delivers 3-minute lessons to mobile phones.  Courses are available 24/7 and live coaches are available to help guide learners through the registration process and courses.

Learning Circles – an innovative collaboration between the Chicago Public Library and Peer 2 Peer University that holds lightly facilitated study groups in person for learners who want to take online courses together. Learning Circles are peer supported, facilitated by non-content experts, hosted in publicly accessible spaces, designed to be taken with few prerequisites, and free for learners.

The three innovator libraries and six pilot libraries to be selected will implement one or two new approaches from among the three practices. World Education will conduct a developmental evaluation to guide and study how these practices can be implemented and combined in different library settings. We will also co-develop an interactive toolkit so that these innovative practices can be made accessible to libraries nationwide.  A team of project advisors from the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services; Maine State Library; American Library Association; and Peer2Peer University will provide expertise and help expand the project’s reach and impact.

“PPL is honored to convene such a dedicated and innovative group of partners with the shared goal of providing adults with opportunities to improve their skills.  We are eager to share our successes and learn best practices from others across the country to better serve our communities.  Public libraries are a critical component of the education and workforce development system and we welcome our community’s input and support to inform our efforts,” said PPL’s Education Director Karisa Tashjian.

Insights and Innovations from the 2017 NCTN Conference

The overall theme of NCTN’s 11th annual Effective Transitions in Adult Education Conference was Connect and Engage.  The plenary session in particular was dedicated to that theme. John Sarrouf from Essential Partners shared insights and guided experiential exercises to create an inspiring learning experience.  During the current climate of disconnection, it was meaningful to have the time to sharpen our abilities to better communicate constructively across our differences, as we strive to be more connected, more resilient, and better partners.

Other topics trending at the conference included educational technology tools and STEM strategies, integrated education and training, competency-based education and hiring, credit for prior learning, and more.  The following is a smattering of insights and innovations based on the sessions I attended.

Turns out there’s a right and wrong way to nudge people. Evidence from research in behavioral science supports an approach that sets the “we all do that” norm. This apparently works much better than pointing out the wrong thing, what not to do.  So does getting people to commit to do something publicly, like reenroll in classes or finish the first year of college.  These are some of the many insights Ross O’Hara from Persistence Plus shared in his workshop. Persistence Plus is a texting software that sends customized, automated texts to college students. It’s a fee-based tool whose impact is being studied in a project involving several colleges.  Already they know that college students are more apt to respond to text messages than emails.  The text messages also help shape students’ identity as college students and increase their attachment to their college.

At the EdTech Panel, the four dynamic panelists stressed how technology-enhanced, competency-based education and hiring are beginning to claim more ground allowing adults to get credit and be hired based on what they know how to do rather than on tests or credentials.  Mitch Rosin of Aztec Software asserted that “we need to recognize the skill sets people bring and assess them for credit.”  Jennifer Hetzel-Silver, Director of Tech Hire RI is convincing tech employers to adopt competency-based hiring practices. Karisa Tashjian, Director of Providence Public Library’s education programs shared information about the library’s innovative Rhode Coders Club – open to anyone with support for English Language Learners – and Data Visualization training.

Alison Ascher Webber, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the EdTech Center @ World Education exhorted us to make sure we’re leveraging the power and potential of technology while choosing solutions that match the objectives rather than technology for technology’s sake. Digital literacy is now a critical skill even for many entry-level jobs. Alison shared how janitors at Google need to know how to use online operations to manage work orders, and soon will need to operate and eventually code robotic vacuum cleaners.  They are learning English and new workplace skills on their cell phones. As a national mobile learning expert, Alison pointed to the advantages of mobile learning and mobile coaching.

Another innovative approach focusing on STEM is the new STEM outreach project at LaGuardia Community College in New York City that educates students about viable STEM career options.  STEM careers are projected to grow at faster rates than other careers and they pay substantially more. Web developers, computer support specialists, and environmental engineers are in-demand STEM jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. What’s special about this outreach project is their interactive and engaging way of getting the STEM message across that those of us at the workshop experienced firsthand.  One hands-on activity was a competition for teams to construct the tallest possible free-standing structure using only pipe cleaners.

Speaking of STEM, I’d love to see the Future Maker Lab in an 18-wheeler truck where students can experience technical jobs virtually on the campus of Wichita Area Technical College in Kansas.  A policy panelist, Christopher Stanyer of Goodwill Industries mentioned it in his comments about the Next Step Alliance that includes the college, Goodwill, one-stop career center, employers, and others.

Several presenters at the conference are advancing Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) practices, among them Rhode Island’s new Commissioner of Postsecondary Education, Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier.  Under Dr. Dann-Messier’s leadership, her office is setting up Prior Learning Assessment centers at career centers, colleges, and other locations across the state as part of a system-wide policy reform to increase access and accelerate college completion rates.  She exhorted adult educators to offer their expertise to higher education commissions in their states to influence policies such as CPL.

Keynote speaker Dr. Martha Kanter, Director of the national College Promise campaign spoke passionately about her work in advocating for tuition-free, public two-year college and paid internships. Several states have joined this campaign.  Likewise, financial literacy and savings accounts are important to adults’ ability to persist in college.  Dr. Kanter noted that there is something wrong when we spend more money to incarcerate people than to educate them. How about that – maybe we should advocate for parity in funding for incarceration and education?

I have participated in – and staffed – the NCTN conference since we decided to hold a national conference 11 years ago.  Once again, I came away better informed and energized, and happy to have connected with old and new friends and colleagues from across the country.  See you in Cambridge in November 2018!



And the Literacy Leadership Award Goes to… Minnesota ABE Teaching and Learning Advancement System (ATLAS) @ Hamline University

Featured accepting the award from Silja Kallenbach are Dr. Patsy Egan, Director of ATLAS and Marisa Squadrito Geisler, ATLAS Operations Manager at the awards event held on October 4, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Photo Credit: Heather Tatton-Harris

When it comes to adult literacy education, professional development is not just a nice thing to offer teachers, it’s essential.  In order to provide high quality instruction in literacy, numeracy, and high school equivalency, and prepare adults for success in college and careers, we must provide in-service training.  Many adult educators do not have a degree in adult education.  And, of course, our understanding of what constitutes high quality practice changes in adult education as it does in other fields.

Professional development (PD) providers are often unsung heroes of adult education, charged with promoting and ensuring program and instructional quality.  That is why it gave me great pleasure, as a Board member of the National Coalition for Literacy, to present one of the four 2017 National Literacy Leadership Awards to the Minnesota ABE Teaching and Learning Advancement System (ATLAS) at Hamline University School of Education.  ATLAS is one of the premier ABE/ESOL PD centers in the U.S.; it is highly practitioner-centered and innovative.  ATLAS is known for providing high quality, evidence-based PD.  For example, their ongoing adult numeracy initiative is a comprehensive, creative, and sustained professional learning effort that has produced national adult numeracy leaders. This is not accidental – they intentionally cultivate teacher leadership.

ATLAS has helped to improve national adult literacy practice.  The Transitions Integration Framework developed by ATLAS has informed our national adult education PD practice at World Education. It defines the academic, career, and employability skills essential for adult learners to successfully transition to postsecondary education, career training, the workplace, and community involvement.  And the Framework is available free of charge as are all the resources developed by ATLAS, right on their website.

We at World Education have collaborated with ATLAS on several projects over the years. For example, we led the evaluation of their math PD initiative.  This year, our New England Literacy Resource Center and the ATLAS Center are piloting a PD exchange designed to bring the special expertise of each center to the other’s constituency of practitioners. This exchange maximizes resources by extending the field’s access to PD opportunities and leaders in the field.

Every state needs a PD center like ATLAS.  We at World Education, along with the National Coalition for Literacy, thank ATLAS for your exemplary work and collaboration over the years. Congratulations for your National Literacy Leadership award on your 10th anniversary!

The annual Literacy Leadership Awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to improving adult literacy in the United States. The other 2017 award recipients were:

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), for her long-standing dedication to our nation’s adult literacy and language programs and her efforts to safeguard education and other critical programs that ensure equal employment opportunity for adults with low literacy levels, most recently as Ranking Member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

Stephen Reder, Professor Emeritus of Applied Linguistics, Portland State University, for his tireless advocacy for adult learners and the field of adult education, and for his extensive research on the impacts of adult literacy skills attainment, culminating in the 10-year Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning that has demonstrated the correlation between participation in adult education and increases in income, educational attainment, and civic participation.

Sharon Darling, Founder and President, the National Center for Families Learning, for her key role in recognizing the critical link between parents’ education and their children’s learning, and for her nearly three decades of leadership in establishing a nationwide network of programs that provide high quality, accessible family-based education and that have helped over one million vulnerable families learn and thrive together.

World Education Statement on Immigration Ban

World Education Logo

On Monday, March 6, 2017, President Trump signed a revised version of his executive order that bans immigrants from six predominantly Muslim nations. At World Education, we believe this ban hurts people and organizations.

Unlike any other country, this is a nation of immigrants. Immigration defines the past, present, and future of the United States. Immigrants’ contributions to U.S. society and their integration underlie the nation’s progress to date and its ability to thrive in the future. Immigrants and their children will account for 85% of the net growth in the U.S. workforce over the next 20 years. Immigrants are vital to our economy. Without them, economic growth in the United States and in dozens of other countries would come to a halt.

World Education is an international organization that works with immigrants and refugees worldwide. Since 1951 we have worked with vulnerable populations, including hundreds of thousands of refugees and immigrants. In the United States, our education programs aim to improve the lives and livelihoods of the 36 million lower-skilled adults in the country, many of whom are immigrants.

Furthermore, the executive order undermines U.S. foreign policy by diminishing the United States’ role in the world—and ultimately the positive view that millions of people in countries around the world have about our country, given the education, health, and other programs that World Education and other global organizations implement around the world.

World Education is resolutely opposed to discrimination of any kind and reaffirms its deep commitment to inclusiveness. We strongly oppose any action that discriminates for any reason, limits access to information, or undermines privacy. This includes the temporary suspension of visas and access to the U.S. based on nationality or religion, as well as the increased scrutiny of people’s communication, including on computers, mobile phones, and social media. We are also concerned for the ability of our 600 staff worldwide to travel to the United States and for their safety.

World Education encourages our partners to welcome, speak out, and show their support for immigrants and refugees.

Read this official statement on worlded.org

Learn about our Networks for Integrating New Americans project