Shortsighted Cuts

The budget for adult education programs in Pennsylvania was cut by 17% earlier this year. Chester County’s Daily Local News published a story today on the impact of those cuts in the Kennett Square area, where the local adult literacy program’s annual budget has been reduced from $145,000 to $92,000. The story describes the stimulative effects that the investment in adult literacy has had on the local economy.

Many small business owners in Kennett Square, in fact, became successful after going through the Adult Literacy program. Some have started small businesses like restaurants and landscaping companies. Jacobi said 325 to 400 students go through the program every year.

“It’s a crying shame,” said Carrie Freeman, executive director of the United Way of Southern Chester County, an agency that provided $31,200 in support for the local adult literacy program this year. “To me, this is an absolutely vital program. People are able to start businesses and hire people and it helps our general local economy.”

Jose Hernandez, owner of Greentree Landscaping in West Chester, said he would have never been able to create his business without the help of Adult Literacy.

“I came here in 1986,” he said. ‘I never had the chance to go to high school. I learned English on the streets, but couldn’t read or write English. I picked mushrooms when I first came here. Then in 2001, I went to the (Bayard Taylor) Library to study for my citizenship test. I would never have been able to pass without a tutor.”

Multiply this by the hundreds of other communities around the country where adult education money has been cut and it’s not hard to imagine that these cuts will lead to a further drag on the growth of the economy.