Responding to Budget Cuts in Adult Education

Last week, the Council for the Advancement of Adult Literacy (CAAL) released In A Time of Scarce Resources: Near Term Priorities in Adult Education, a 34-page summary and analysis of responses submitted by more than two dozen “adult education leaders” about “priority areas in adult education at a time when resources are scarce.” (Not that they are plentiful most of time.) According to CAAL, “the main purpose of the paper is to motivate adult education planners, service providers, and policymakers to recognize the need to focus on highest priority next steps to take in this period of extreme funding constraints.”

Those surveyed, according to CAAL “stress[ed] that we can achieve a great deal, despite stagnant funding, if we set priorities and are all traveling in the same direction toward a comprehensive shared vision for the future.”

But is this true? You can obviously prioritize and work more efficiently to make do with what you have in almost any circumstance, (which is where a report like this one is useful), but I think we let policymakers off the hook when we say that “we can achieve a great deal” when budgets are drastically reduced, as they have been in many states in recent years. People in this field work so hard to figure out how to move forward with scarce resources—in doing so, my fear is that scarce resources are all we are ever going to get.