The results are in!
Last week, we sent out a survey to our members asking which social issues were most important to them and for their elected officials. Each member rated the issues in order of most important (1) to least important (6).
#6. (Least important): CORRECTIONAL EDUCATION: Support correctional adult education programs aimed at helping inmates make a smoother re-entry.
One in every 100 U.S. adults 16 and older is in prion or jail (about 2.2 million in 2014). Seventy-five percent of state prison inmates and 59% of federal inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate. Ninety-five percent of those incarcerated are reintegrated into our communities. It is hard for them to find jobs when already burdened with a prison record, but it is nearly impossible when they lack basic literacy and technology skills. Research shows that inmates who are educated are 43 percent less likely to return to prison. Further, the employment rate after release was 13 percent higher for those who received education.
#5. HEALTH LITERACY: Support more investment in adult literacy programs to make a positive impact on health outcomes.
An excess of $230 billion a year in health care costs is linked to low adult literacy skills difficulty understanding and using health information. Lack of understanding impedes adults’ abilities to make appropriate health decisions and increases the likelihood that they’ll incur higher health costs. When one accounts for the future costs of low health literacy to taxpayers, the real present-day cost of low health literacy is in the range of $1.6 trillion to $3.6 trillion.
#4. IMMIGRANTS: English for Immigrants: Support resources to assist immigrants with literacy and assimilation through adult education programs.
About 2 million immigrants come to the U.S. each year seeking better jobs and better lives. About 50 percent of them lack high school education and proficient English language skills, severely limiting their access to jobs and job training, college, and citizenship. This increases their vulnerability to unemployment and living in poverty. Not only are the adults at risk, but so are their children. Poverty in immigrant populations adds to the strain on the U.S. society, which is already dealing with a significant percentage of impoverished citizens.
#3. JOBS: Support education for the adult learners in order to strengthen the workforce.
There has been much discussion lately about the “skills gap,” or disconnect between available jobs and qualified workers. We cannot have a conversation about improving our country’s workforce without first talking about the long-term economic impact of low literacy. Individuals at the lowest literacy and numeracy levels have a higher rate of unemployment and lower wages than the national average. Low literacy costs the U.S. $225 billion or more each year due to non-productivity in the workforce, crime, and loss of tax revenue due to unemployment.
#2. K-12 EDUCATION: Funding for adult literacy so that we can break intergenerational cycles.
TThere is a lot of focus on how early childhood education and the Common Core State Standards in K-12 are meant to better prepare students for success in college, career, and life. But research shows that focusing on educating kids without adequately addressing adults will not solve the skills gap. Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out. Parents with low literacy who improve their own skills are more likely to have a positive impact on their children’s educational achievements.
#1. HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY/CAREER AND COLLEGE READINESS: Support funding for adult education so people with low literacy skills can earn their diploma.
High school dropout rates are staggering. Every year, 1 in 3 young adults, more than 1.2 million, drop out of high school. Recent data show that nearly 30 percent of adults with household incomes at or below the federal poverty line do not have a high school credential. The key to financial success is a viable career path and adequate education to seek meaningful, family-supporting wages. The value to our economy in additional wages and the reduction in costs for various support programs is estimated at more than $200 billion a year.
Do you agree with these ratings? Take the survey and let us know what you think!