Massachusetts Secretary of Education Secretary Paul Reville, in a blog post from last week:
We know that parents and families are a student’s primary teacher and play an indispensible role in the development of children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. Programs like this one equip families with the skills they need to help children succeed in school and go beyond that to increase adults’ competitiveness in the job market so they can earn a living and support their family. The return on investment here is huge, yet there are over 450 families still on the waiting list for this program alone because of a lack of resources for Adult Basic Education.
I cannot emphasize enough the enormous difference that effective adult education programs can make in the lives of families. I felt it in the emotion of the parent testimonies that day and saw tangible results of this program in doors now opened to adults and families through it. There are currently an estimated 1.1 million adults in Massachusetts in need of Adult Basic Education Services and less than 5% of that population is having those needs met. We can and should do better. (my emphasis)
It’s encouraging that an education official at this level is arguing for adult education’s return on investment so forcefully. It’s also refreshing—and from a policy perspective, I think this is ultimately going to prove to be more effective—that he views adult education as an investment in families and communities, and not just “workers.” I think this puts job skills, as an outcome of adult education, in the proper context, as one of several outcomes of adult education that work together to strengthen families and the communities they live in.
One other really critical point: Reville’s post was inspired after a visit to a family literacy program in Chelsea, Mass. This is why it’s really important to invite public officials to visit programs so that they can see the impact for themselves. I’d like to believe that every cabinet-level state education official makes a visit to an adult or family literacy program at least once a year. If that’s not the case, it’s something we need to work on.
Read his entire post here. It’s really excellent.