Excellent article by Paul Takahashi in the Las Vegas Sun over the weekend about an adult education and vocational training program based at the High Desert State Prison in Nevada, about 40 miles northwest of Las Vegas. According to the Sun, more than 300 inmates are served through this program, operated by the Clark County School District through a partnership with the Nevada Department of Corrections.
About 75% of inmates who receive their GED, high school diploma or a vocational certificate through this program never return to prison. By contrast, the overall recidivism rate for inmates 18 to 20 years old is about 50%.
Unfortunately, funding for adult education and vocational programs at prisons across the state has been dramatically reduced in recent years. Clark County has cut the budget for this program by 28%.
(Corrected on 3/14: forgot to add a link to the original story!)
Yesterday’s Las Vegas Sun published an excellent article by Tovin Lapan on the increasing demand for adult education classes among the unemployed in Las Vegas. The article includes a photo gallery of the long lines of people waiting to sign up for ESL classes at the Community Multicultural Center (CMC).
“We’ve seen an increase in demand for ESL classes in the last few years,” said Lyn Pizor, Community Multicultural Center director. “We typically run waiting lists in all ESL classes, and in the last two or three years those lists have gotten longer. There just aren’t enough spaces to serve the population.”
The majority of those in line, including Melchor, spoke of the need to learn English so they can find a new job. Many said they would pursue GED classes, a new offering at the center, after their English skills were up to par. (my emphasis)
The problem in Las Vegas, it appears, is not that the unemployed need motivation to enroll in adult education, but that there is not sufficient resources to meet the demand.
According to the article, CMC receives the bulk of its funding through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). WIA Title II is the primary federal source of adult edcuation funds for adult education programs in the United States. Congress, which has not significantly increased fudning for Title II over the last decade, is now debating whether to cut off UI benefits earned by unemployed workers without a high school diploma or GED unless they are enrolled in a class to obtain one—even if they can’t enroll in one because Congress (and states) don’t adequately fund adult education to meet the demand.