ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, today commended President Obama for his emphasis on education in the 2013 State of the Union address. President Obama made clear statements about the importance of early childhood education, redesigning our high schools to make them more technologically competitive, and making higher education more accessible.
“When acknowledging that Americans must possess the education and training required for today’s jobs, President Obama unfortunately missed the opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to adult literacy and basic education,” says Kevin Morgan, interim president and CEO of ProLiteracy. “Ensuring that Americans are trained for a 21st century workforce and making high-quality early childhood education available for every American child are critical. But they go hand-in-hand with making high-quality adult instruction available to the more than 30 million American adults who cannot read, write, or do basic math above a third grade level.”
An additional 63 million adults are unable to read, write, or do basic math above an eighth grade level.
Additionally, ProLiteracy applauds the President for including English language learning in his plan for comprehensive immigration reform. However, the President omitted a commitment to increase public funding for adult literacy and basic education that must accompany any immigration proposals.
“A logical place to start with the President’s pathway to citizenship is committing additional public funding to adult literacy and basic education programs,” says Morgan. “We also urge the President and Congress to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act, which provides job training funds for adults, disconnected and underemployed workers, and youth.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, individuals who are at the lowest level of literacy have an unemployment rate of more than 14 percent—almost twice the national average of 7.9 percent.
“Workforce development and basic education for all adults—including immigrants—are inextricably linked,” says Morgan. “Helping people get the skills they need to find jobs, earn wages, strengthen communities, educate our children, and strengthen our economy means investing in adult literacy and basic education.”
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