Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Bottom Rung of American Education: Stories from an Adult Literacy Class via WHYY

The Bottom Rung of American Education: Stories from an Adult Literacy Class
WHYY: 11.20.2017 by Avi Wolfman-Arent   Listen 5:39

At the bottom rung of America’s education system, you will find someone like Sandie Knuth.

Knuth teaches English for adult learners on the 10th floor of a Center City office building, in a room of carpeted plainness that suits the invisibility of its inhabitants. The students in Knuth’s class are varying levels of illiterate — placed here because an entrance test found they read below a third-grade level.

They’re here because they think — despite years of setbacks and stacked odds — they can earn the basic education promised to all Americans. Knuth’s task is to set them on the journey toward that distant goal.

Class begins on a Wednesday in April at 5:30 p.m.

At least that’s when it’s supposed to begin. There’s a 10-minute grace period for students to arrive — and about a 10-minute grace period informally tacked onto that grace period for those who straggle in even later.

As the 25-year-old Knuth waits for everyone to show, she scribbles a question on the whiteboard.

What do you hope to get out of class?

By 6 p.m., five students have arrived. The last of them is 41-year-old Katrina Williams,  who swaggers in with sunglasses on, earbuds in, and a large plastic cup full of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

After a boisterous hello, she pulls out her pencil.

I Just wont to learn how to read and write and spell fill out papers and don’t have to ask for help

I really enjoy being back in School It hard but im going to try my best I wont to get it done This time.

Homework is hard for me cuz I really can spell but Im trying my best.

Although the numbers and faces fluctuate from week to week, the five who’ve shown up on this first day will form the core of the class. All have a common goal: to earn their GED. This class is step one — the furthest point from a faraway destination.

Nationwide, about 1.5 million adults are in state-funded adult education programs, a number that’s fallen sharply since 2000. Over the same stretch, federal funding for adult ed has declined about 8 percent when adjusted for inflation.

Participants in state-administered adult basic education, secondary education,
and English as a second language programs, by type of program and state or
jurisdiction: Selected fiscal years, 2000 through 2015

This is not because every adult can suddenly read. In Philadelphia alone, an estimated 245,000 adults lack “basic” prose literacy skills, meaning they’re not even capable of parsing a television guide.

Philadelphia has exactly 569 classroom seats for adults who aren’t proficient enough to tackle high school-level work. That’s one opening for every 430 low-literate adults.

Across the state and country, policymakers preach the value of early intervention. There are new pre-K programs to boost kindergarten readiness and warning systems that identify wavering middle-school students. An ounce of prevention, the saying goes, is worth a pound of cure.

But what’s left over for the sick?

Relatively little, it seems. Pennsylvania spends just $12 million on adult and family education, $6.5 million less than it spent a decade ago and about 1/500th of what it spends on basic K-12 education. Nationally, the typical adult education program spends roughly $200 per student per year, according to researcher Steve Reder.  READ MORE >>

Monday, November 20, 2017

Warren Buffett and Mark Cuban Agree This One Habit is Key to Success—and Anyone Can Do It via CNBC

Warren Buffett and Mark Cuban agree this one habit is key to success—and anyone can do it
CNBC.com: 11.15.2017 by Ali Montag

Warren Buffett and Mark Cuban have seen exceptional success.

But neither billionaire credits short cuts for his rise to the upper echelons of the business world. Instead, both men point to investing their time into a simple habit that has helped them outperform competitors: reading.

"I read more than three hours almost every day," Cuban writes on his blog.

"Most people won't put in the time to get a knowledge advantage," he writes. "To this day, I feel like if I put in enough time consuming all the information available, particularly with the net making it so readily available, I can get an advantage in any technology business."

Buffett also devotes a large portion of his day to reading.

"I still probably spend five or six hours a day reading," Buffett says in HBO's documentary, "Becoming Warren Buffett." "I like to sit and think. I spend a lot of time doing that and sometimes it is pretty unproductive, but I find it enjoyable to think about business or investment problems."

Buffett typically reads six newspapers each day: The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The New York Times, The USA Today, The Omaha World-Herald and American Banker.

Why it's so important

Cuban recognized the value that sinking time into reading could return early in his career, while building his first technology business, MicroSolutions.

"I remember reading the PC DOS manual (I really did), and being proud that I could figure out how to set up startup menus for my customers," he says on his blog. "I read every book and magazine I could. Heck, $3 for a magazine, $20 for a book. One good idea that led to a customer or solution and it paid for itself many times over."  READ MORE >>

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Literacy – Spanning North America :: Reno NV :: Waterville ME :: Vernon BC :: Union MO

Literacy: Spanning North America

Group Helps Adults Learn to Read, Earn GEDs
KTVN: 9.29.2017 by Arianna Bennett

We talk about high school graduation rates often and what the graduates are doing after they get that diploma. But what happens to the nearly 30 percent of Nevada students who don't make it to graduation?

Without a high school diploma, people are more likely to be stuck earning minimum wage, struggling to afford basic needs like rent, and more likely to end up in prison. In fact, nearly 70 percent of prison inmates didn't finish high school. But there is a non-profit organization in Reno working to help these people turn it all around.

The Northern Nevada Literacy Council looks a little bit like a private tutoring business, but this adult learning school does it all for free, helping people learn to read, learn English, and get their GEDs.

"I've been absolutely shocked to see that there are people born in America, who come to our school, and they either can't read at all, or they read at a first grade level, or a Kindergarten level," NNLC Executive Director Susan Robinson said.

The NNLC teaches about 150 local students at all levels every a day. Some dropped out of high school just a year or two shy of graduation, and some are trying to learn English as a second language. Some never learned to read to begin with.  WATCH VIDEO

Literacy Volunteers of Waterville helps adults learn to read
WCSH6: 10.03.2017 by Rob Nesbitt

The ability to read a text message, street sign, or restaurant menu is something many can do with ease, but there are some adults who struggle with sounding out words and reading complete sentences. That's where Literacy Volunteers Waterville Area can help.

The group has been teaching adults to read through free one-on-one tutors since 1973. Each literacy volunteer tutor develops lesson plans to meet student's unique needs and goals in the speaking, listening, reading and writing of English. Mona Gagnon, 54, signed up for the program after a severe reaction to a medication caused her memory loss, taking her ability to read with it. 

"It was hard because I didn't even know my alphabet," said Gagnon. "I had to go right at the bottom of everything."

Pride might stop some, but not Gagnon. She wants to learn to read and that drive brought her to Literacy Volunteers tutor, Alan Corson. He has tutored five adults through the program, but none have been as successful as Gagnon during their lessons at the Waterville Public Library.  WATCH VIDEO 

New name, same services
While their mission to spread the seeds of literacy and learning throughout the North Okanagan remains the same, residents can expect some other major changes from the Junction Literacy Centre this fall.

While their mission to spread the seeds of literacy and learning throughout the North Okanagan remains the same, residents can expect some other major changes from the Junction Literacy Centre this fall.

It began with the transfer of operation of the Teen Junction from the society to the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs in May and has culminated in a new name and location.

Under their new moniker — the Literacy Society of the North Okanagan, the non-profit society will operate out of the third floor of the People Place on 27th Avenue.

These changes, explained society president Bill Miller, come as a result of board’s desire to “purify” their services.

“Two years ago, the board of Junction Literacy Centre met for strategic planning and we identified that it was becoming more and more of a challenge for the society to do two different mandates and do them well — deliver youth services and literacy services and deliver them well for the community.” Miller said.  READ MORE >>

People Who Can Boost the Local Economy
eMissourian: 10.05.2017 by Alice Whalen, Executive Director, East Central Area Literacy Council

To The Editor:
There are more than 10,000 people in the East Central College service area who didn’t graduate high school. They are three times more likely to be in poverty, four times more likely to be in poor health and eight times more likely to be incarcerated than the rest of the population.

Right now, there are 28 adult education programs across the state trying to fix the problem, including the one at East Central College. We are seeing results. 

This year, Missouri ranked second in the nation for academic gains through adult education. According to the U.S. Department of Education, individuals who participate in Adult Education and Literacy programs have higher future earnings as a result. Children whose parents are involved with them in family literacy activities score 10 points higher on standardized reading tests.  Adult Education programs are the best available weapons against intergenerational low literacy and poverty.

The last week of September served as National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week — meant to bring public awareness about the need for and value of adult education and family literacy. As director of the East Central College Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) Program, I know one week of awareness isn’t enough. The demand for more educated workers isn’t going away. By 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require some level of postsecondary education.  READ MORE >>

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Adult Literacy's Role in the Skills Gap via ProLiteracy

Adult Literacy's Role in the Skills Gap
ProLiteracy Blog: 11.15.2017 by Jennifer Paulding

What is the skills gap?

There is a gap between what employers want or need their employees to be able to do, and the skills employees possess. Good, high-paying jobs are unfilled while American workers lack the skills to fill them. This keeps many workers in the dark and unable to enter or remain in the middle class. Their lack of advanced skills means they are constantly faced with low wages and the incapacity to accomplish financial stability.

The skills gap is somewhat of a controversial topic. A number of public officials have blamed unemployment rates on skills shortages. Some educators find that many workers are either overeducated for these jobs or undereducated in the areas that fall into the skills gap. And many employers claim that it is difficult to hire employees without skills that adapt to new, evolving technologies.

The Middle Ground
The term “skills gap” often refers to the lack of “middle skills.” Middle skills are the skills that require some specialized training or certification—more than a high school equivalency degree but not necessarily a four-year college education. Because of the ongoing development of new and old technologies, a growing number of employers require workers with middle skills.

In 2015, the National Skills Coalition analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that “middle-skills jobs account for 53 percent of United States’ labor market, but only 43 percent of the country’s workers are trained to the middle-skill level.” Employers have trouble filling these middle-skill positions because there is a lack of sufficiently trained workers.  READ MORE >> Facts & Research

Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs: State by State Snapshots

Middle-skill jobs, which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree, make up the largest part of the labor market in the United States and in each of the 50 states. All too often, key industries in our country are unable to find enough sufficiently trained workers to fill these jobs. As the fact sheets show, this skill gap keeps states' economies from growing and employers from hiring.

States can close their middle-skill gaps by adopting policies that support sector partnerships and career pathways, and by making job-driven investments. States policymakers can also use data to better align workforce and education investments with employer skill needs. NSC works with state coalitions and policymakers to promote these strategies.  READ MORE >>

Friday, November 17, 2017

Stigma-Free Reading for Adults :: How Nashville Public Library Rebooted its Hi-Lo Offerings

Stigma-Free Reading for Adults
How Nashville Public Library Rebooted its Hi-Lo Offerings into the Fresh Reads Collection
Library Journal: 11.06.2017 by Megan Godbey & Laurie Handshu

Nashville Public Library (NPL), the 2017 Gale/LJ Library of the Year, launched the Fresh Reads collection to adult new readers (ANR) in 2017 to offer stigma-free reading to promote literacy and learning. One in eight Nashvillians reads below a sixth-grade level, making tasks such as paying bills, helping a child with homework, or filling out a job application challenging and sometimes impossible. Helping them also helps the next generation: the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that “children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves.” We need to leverage all our resources to build a literate community.

NPL has experimented with books targeted to ANR patrons in the past, but its previous collections were plagued by issues including confusing locations, uninspired displays, outdated materials, and the stigma attached to books written on lower reading levels.

Books were shelved inconsistently, and they were often in a lonely, dark corner. Some of the titles were for adults but had been adapted for new readers; some were actually children’s books; many had covers dated enough to make them embarrassing to check out.

Few patrons, regardless of reading level, would have sought out these works. Our local literacy council described the problem this way: “We found it extremely difficult to find material that was appropriate for our learners. Materials of interest to adults were written at a level that was too advanced, and content at the right level was geared to a much younger audience.” Eventually, these collections were pulled from the shelves owing to disuse, and we took a step back to reevaluate our approach.  READ MORE >>

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Family Literacy Month :: 30 Days of Families Learning Together :: NCFL

30 Days of Families Learning Together

NCFL’s guide to 30 Days of Families Learning Together provides a month’s worth of family literacy activities and practices designed to inspire family memories rooted in imagining, playing, and learning together. These hands-on and wonder-filled activities were hand-selected from our signature programs, Wonderopolis and Family Time Machine. (Also available in Spanish)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Literacy – Spanning North America :: Jacksonville FL :: Guelph ON :: Kauai HI

Literacy: Spanning North America

Literacy nonprofit Learn to Read Jacksonville boosts adults’ reading, writing and math skills
Jacksonville.com: 9.29.2017 by Beth Reese Cravey

At 38, Tracy Maggard was learning fractions.

“Ohhhhhh,” she said, the lightbulb of understanding going off in her head as tutor Sherry Guthrie explained an error she made on a worksheet.

A few minutes later, on another worksheet question, Maggard won Guthrie’s praise.

“How did you figure that one out so nicely?” her tutor said.

Maggard beamed.

Poor reading, writing and math skills had plagued Maggard since childhood, exacerbating the effects of her many physical and mental health problems, she said. Her disabilities and lack of high school diploma made finding employment and maneuvering in the world difficult. But she wanted a job. She wanted a better life. So she came to Learn to Read Jacksonville and is now receiving tutoring in reading and in math.

Learn to Read, based at the Main Library in downtown Jacksonville, provides free instruction in adult literacy and adult basic education. Proceeds from Saturday’s annual Night at the Library costume event will help support those programs.

The nonprofit, founded in 1969, helps about 500 people a year, according to Executive Director Judy Bradshaw.

One in 5 Duval County residents read at or below the sixth grade level, according to Learn to Read.  READ MORE >>

Free 'Employability Fitness' program to help adults with literacy challenges land jobs
Statistics show some 16 per cent of adults in Wellington County have difficulty reading basic text
Guelph Today: 10.01.2017 by Kenneth Armstrong

A charitable organization committed to helping adults who have literacy challenges is launching a free training program to assist those adults in expanding their essential skills to help them find employment.

Mira Clarke, executive director of Action Read Community Literacy Centre, said the ongoing need for basic literacy programs may be surprising to some, but statistics show some 16 per cent of adults in Wellington County have difficulty reading basic text — which can negatively affect their employability.

Many people who have no literacy are often very smart and highly skilled, said Clarke.

"It's not something people go around advertising," Clarke said of the literacy challenges many adults face on a daily basis.

The 12-week 'Employability Fitness' program will be offered at the organization's Cork Street location and is intended to offer adults the ability to enhance their essential skills, basic literacy skills and their oral communications in an effort to help them find and retain a job.

“If they get so lucky as to get a job, they still have to use essential skills all of the time in the job if they want to keep it. This is a good way of building in those long-term skills that we know are required in the workplaces — or even just in life — to really be able to thrive,” said Clarke.

She said the program combines many of the services the organization has been offering for some 30 years.  READ MORE >>

Dennis Dresser, A Man of Words
Coordinator of the Hawaii Adult Literacy program shares his love of people
The Garden Island: 10.01.2017 by Bill Buley (Press Reader)

Dennis Dresser leads the Adult Literacy Program on Kauai. Why do you do this?

Might as well get straight to the point. Dennis Dresser wants to help people read.

He’s been doing it for the past 14 years on Kauai as coordinator of the Adult Literacy Program. In that time, he’s helped hundreds of people improve their reading and writing skills.

He’s spent thousands of hours doing it — all of it as a volunteer. His only compensation: the thanks and smiles of those he has assisted, and they range from teenagers to kupuna. Some couldn’t read at all when they started. Some could read a little. Others just wanted to read better.

Either way, Dresser and the team of tutors he leads do what they can.

Oh, Dennis Dresser, by the way, is 86 years old.

He does it, he says, because he loves people. He loves helping those who need help.

“It’s a work of love, I’ll tell you,” he said. “Learning is a chain reaction. You’re learning, their kids are learning, their friends are learning. It’s a chain reaction. It expands. And the more we teach, the more we learn.”

Hawaii Literacy students share one thing in common, Dresser said. They want to read and write better, to make their live better.

And it’s all free, but for the workbooks.  “The drive to learn is in everybody. Just give them an opening,” he said.

What Dresser would love now is more students — and it’s easy to get started.  READ MORE >>