Posted by Christy Williams on April 19th, 2016
As Fiscal Year ’17 (FY17) approaches, a few senators have teamed up to work towards increasing state funding for adult education for a consecutive year. The goal is to secure the Adult Education Funding Grants at the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) allotted level. Approval would yield $635 million in funds for adult education programs.
Currently, adult education programs are significantly underfunded. Yet the programs are vital to ensuring economic competitiveness. Additionally, there are statistics and data pointing to the necessity of adults having access to education beyond high school in order to obtain family-sustaining jobs and increase health and social well-being. The investment into these grants would help adult education programs meet the demand for services. States would be able to shorten current waiting lists for programming and address the number of participants served.
Since 2002 there has been a notable decline in the funding of adult education programs. President Obama signed the WIOA into law in July 2014 reauthorizing the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) with several major revisions. In July 2015 WIOA became effective with some of its provisions becoming effective on other dates. Current funding levels support approximately 60% of those served in 2001. With 2016 being an election year, Democrats are hoping to secure the support of some Republicans in their efforts towards increasing funding.
Sponsored by Senators Reed, Blumenthal and Gillibrand, a “Dear Colleagues” letter is circulating to members of the Senate. The letter is a request for all senate members to ask the Chair and Ranking members, Senators Blunt and Murray respectively, of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies to fund the grants at the authorized level.
Leaders of this effort are petitioning practitioners within the field to get involved as a second level of outreach. Practitioners are encouraged to have someone from their organization reach out directly to the staff of their Senators via phone and ask if they will support the Reed-Blumenthal-Gillibrand letter requesting additional adult education funding.
Organizations are also urged to follow their call with a similar request letter containing the appropriate contact information for the staff person in Senator Reed’s office. Comparable efforts last year led to an additional $13 million in adult education grant funding above the President’s proposed budget.
A tremendous call to action both internally and externally yielded positive results in last year’s budget approval. Through a collective effort Senators have the opportunity to increase adult education grant funding at the state level up to $635 million. The impact of this additional funding will extend to adult learners across the nation, putting them a step closer towards being economically competitive.