How Washington state is centering equity and justice in adult education

Adult educators have long looked to Washington State for inspiration. The Washington Integrated Basic Education and Skill Training (I-BEST) remains the Cadillac of Integrated Education & Training (IET) models, replicated in the Accelerated Opportunity initiative and continuing in states across the country.

As of July 1, there is yet another reason to admire Washington’s Basic Education for Adults (BEdA) program as they lead the way to centering racial equity and economic justice through the adoption of a new vision and mission statement. Washington’s leadership should inspire adult educators to embrace our role in the important racial justice work happening across this country.

Eight goals operationalize their mission, including goals to provide equity-focused navigation and support services to help individuals create, follow, and fund an accelerated college and career pathway plan.  Washington’s commitment to concurrent, contextualized foundational skill building within a college pathway includes attention to providing adult learners with the resources needed to be a student, including connecting adults without a high school credential to federal financial aid (e.g. Pell Grants) through use of the Ability to Benefit provision.

Even at the earliest “pre-college” levels, Washington’s adult learners have equitable access to a college’s guided pathway innovations and can define a clear path to educational and economic mobility.

The all too predictable links between race, class, and educational outcome need to be broken.  Adult educators can begin their work by ensuring their own systems provide equitable opportunity to meaningful credentials and to the financial supports that adult learners need in order to succeed.

The National College Transition Network is partnering with federal agency staff to build awareness and uptake of ability to benefit and to support states who are implementing this critical equity policy. If your state or local institutional partnership is interested in learning more, please contact Judy_Mortrude@worlded.org.