Letter to the Editor: “Adult Education Overlooked”

Letter to the editor published in the November 21st edition of The Bangor Daily News:

I write to expand on John Rohman’s Nov. 12 letter about Early Childhood education funding and the education-economy connection, specifically on behalf of another often-overlooked part of that picture: adult education.

Adult education’s impact is clear when we read about adult diplomas and equivalencies. And thanks to the foresight of state government, we are seeing the positive impact of adult education’s state-funded Maine College Transitions Program, reducing the need for developmental-level college classes.

Perhaps less obvious is the impact of our adult literacy work and the benefits that improving adults’ basic skills has on those around them, particularly adults parenting young children. A bottom line is that well-prepared parents can actively support their children’s development, including school-readiness during the critical 0-5 years. (my emphasis)

Literate parents are not only essential but may eventually reduce the need for ongoing increased funding addressing educational deficiencies. However, it is critical to note that funding for adult education begins at home. Statewide, 42 percent of funding for programs comes from locally raised taxes. State subsidy reimburses certain expenses, providing 22 percent of adult education funding.

Local support provides direct student services and indirect benefits to the community. A recent study by Franklin County Adult Education and University of Maine at Farmington calculated that $1 invested in GED programming returned $7 through increased earning ability and participation in the economy. So to use Rohman’s words in a different way: Even though our political and fiscal climate makes additional spending unattractive, investing in [adult education] will benefit our communities and our businesses both today and in the future.

Bonnie Fortini
Roque Bluffs