Why Adult Education and Family Literacy Week Matters

AEFL Week 2013Education is the single-most important criterion for predicting a person’s success. Virtually no one would disagree with such a statement. What’s surprising, however, is that many of those who support education often subscribe to the systematic notion that adult education programs are inferior to k-12 schools.

Take government policy in Florida, for example. Florida spent $9,572 per k-12 student in 2010 compared to less than $1,000 per adult student. Clearly, the idea that adult education matters*just not that much*permeates throughout society.

The reason for this supposed hierarchy at least theoretically makes sense. Many people view adult education as a ‘second-chance system,’ which is false yet understandable. People assume adults without their high school diploma weren’t failed, they failed. Thus to support adult education, that is to support the education of adults who have already failed to graduate, would be investing in our most unproductive members of society rather than investing in our future, right?

We in the field know better.  As part literacy practitioner or administrator, part advocate, we’re the ones who must inform our community that illiteracy is in fact still a crisis. Furthermore, this crisis not only affects those with low-literacy skills who can’t participate in society but also those who are functionally literate.

2.4 million people in Florida haven’t received their high school diploma. According to GED Testing Service, the Florida high school graduate, on average, earns $7,115 more per year than a high school dropout. This amounts to $17.3 billion each year that isn’t being circulated in the state’s economy. By ignoring the 2.4 million people in our state without a high school diploma, we’re doing a great disservice to ourselves and our progress.

More often than not, others don’t understand what having little to no education does to a person. For one, low education directly relates to an increased chance of living in poverty. In 2005 21% of families with no HS diploma were living below poverty, compared to 7.1% of those with HS diplomas. Having no high school diploma means a person struggles to find work, and the struggle will only become more difficult as it’s predicted that 63% of jobs will require postsecondary education by the year 2018. However, it doesn’t end here.

Low-literacy skills follow a person into all aspects of his or her life and those of his or her family members. It’s not uncommon for an illiterate individual to avoid admitting that they’re “dumb.” Instead, they avoid participation in their children’s academic life, leaving the children to fend for themselves. Even placing a lunch order in the presence of friends becomes a terrifying experience. But at least these examples aren’t life-threatening.

You know how some people self-diagnose themselves with WebMD instead of going to seek a professional opinion? Those with low-literacy skills often disregard symptoms of a condition, because they can’t afford a visit to the doctor. On the occasions that an individual visits a doctor and receives a prescription, they’ll have enormous difficulty understanding the medicine bottle’s instructions.

Even if a person understands how many pills to take, they might not understand when to take them, if food is required with their consumption, if alcohol is permitted to drink, etc. To guess in this situation is a serious health risk. The American Medical Association states that “individuals with low health literacy incur medical expenses that are up to four times greater than patients with adequate literacy skills.” This costs the health care system billions of dollars each year for unnecessary doctor and ER visits.

Why there is less than 2% of the necessary funding being provided by our government is beyond me. It’s sure not due to lack of results. In Florida, 67.7% of test takers passed the GED test to receive their high school diploma. With their newly acquired credentials, individuals are able to follow their dreams and improve their as well as their family’s quality of life in all regards.

As for improving the future of adult education, one thing is clear. As Dr. Irwin Kirsch noted this Monday at the First PIAAC, Then What? Live Webcast, “Adult and continuing education needs to play a larger and more strategic role in our immediate and long term goals.” In order to improve the lives of others, we must first improve the capacity of adult education.

Southwest Airlines Contest- Deadline Extended!


Southwest Airlines and the Florida Literacy Coalition are giving you the opportunity to raise funds for literacy! Four community-based organizations will receive two (2) round-trip airline tickets each that can be used for any Southwest destination.

How do you apply?

Submit a one or two page letter on your organization letterhead briefly describing your program, how a donation of tickets will be used to raise funds, and for what purpose. Please include your name, address, telephone number, email address, approximate date of fundraiser, fundraising goal, and a brief statement as to how Southwest Airlines will be recognized as a supporter. Tickets can be used as part of an existing event or as a standalone fundraiser. A committee will select the winners. Feel free to be creative and have fun! Apply today.

Deadline EXTENDEDOctober 1, 2013

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Cursive and Adult Literacy

cursiveWhen literacy is taught to adults, there is just as much focus on the reading as the writing aspect. Writing has been taught in two mediums in the past, the ability to write print as well as cursive. There is now a debate going on to completely eradicate cursive writing. We are here to look at both the pros and cons and let you decide for yourself whether the form should be eliminated.

Cursive has many benefits associated with it. As new studies emerge on cursive, they are proving that it may indeed be more useful for people to learn the writing form because of the impact it has on the brain. It helps in motor control, sensation, and thinking. This is beyond what simple computer typing does (classified as print).  It has also been found that the certain form of writing is better when used if one is thinking about something, writing, or planning. The act of writing helps to get the thoughts out faster because the style is much more fluid. Another important aspect of cursive is that it was used for most important documents in history: Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and so on. Wouldn’t it be a shame if only specialists in cursive (similar to specialists in reading hieroglyphics) could read these documents and interpret them for the rest of the population?

While cursive has pros, the cons follow right behind it. Cursive takes a lengthy time to learn, and some people just do not have the time to learn cursive. Personally, I was lucky to have learned it at such a young age because a lot of my friends who are now learning cursive have noticed that it is extremely time consuming for them. This is a problem that it takes so much time to learn. Since many people that are learning cursive are also adults, it doesn’t help that they have jobs, and maybe even a family to take care of. Print is easier to learn and is also more readily comprehended by people. The other thing is that cursive is just not as useful as it was in the past. Since most of us use computers, phones, and more writing is in print not cursive, there simply is no need to learn something that will not be useful to a person in the future. They could spend time learning something that would actually benefit them.

Only time will tell if cursive becomes another form of abandoned writing or becomes embraced by the population. There simply is not a demand for cursive anymore as there was once in the past.

For more information about this debate I encourage everyone to look at this video:

Sources: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/memory-medic/201303/what-learning-cursive-does-your-brain


Technology in Adult Literacy Webinar

As technology becomes increasingly more advanced, educators often wonder what the best ways to use these advances to their advantage. In an effort to get adult literacy educators to implement new technology in their teaching, LINCS region 1 supported the Improving Adult Literacy: Using Technology to Support Learning and Motivation webinar.
This webinar brought together a panel of practitioners throughout the LINCS network to engage in discussion on how to use technology to support learning and motivation. Themes of the discussion revolved around access to technology, use of apps and tools in and out of the classroom, and production of learning materials by both students and teachers.

Along with a high level of participation from the attendees, the discussion also focused on several promising apps which could be effectively used in adult literacy and education. Below is a list of resources suggested by the webinar’s panelists:

NCTN’s Words2Learn Project: [IPhone, Android] By taking advantage of infusing mobile phones with learning, this app has various tiers to climb while students improve their vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Lensoo Create App: [Android] This app combines voice recording with a virtual white board. Practitioners can record lessons and then share them with their students to review while outside of the classroom.

Google+ and Google Hangouts: [Online, IPhone, Android] The Google social network Google+ is arguably one of the best platforms to work with students. The “Circles” feature allows a person to share information with specific people and “Hangouts” allow for video chatting up to 9 people at once. Google Drive is also a great place to share learning materials virtually as well as help edit a student’s work via using Drive through the Hangout feature.

Show Me App: [IPad] This app, only available for IPad, allows teachers to create and upload lessons for their students to watch and review. Teachers can also review lessons already uploaded onto the app and use those as well.

Remind101.com: [Mass texting service, Iphone, Android] This app can be downloaded by a teacher to use as a free, one-way mass texting service. As the title suggests, the app is great to send quick messages to your students’ phones to remind students what to bring to class tomorrow or what the homework is, etc. The free service has limited use.

Other shared resources include a list of various sites, like TV411, Khan Academy, USALearns, and TeacherTube.

Access the recording here to learn more.

Video explaining the changes to health care

A recent study shows that 40% of Americans do not know that the Affordable Care Act is a law. As community-based organizations and schools working with those who are affected the most by these monumental changes to our health system, it is important to relay accurate information.

Start by watching this video with your students. Charlie Gibson explains what the changes mean for different people. This should spark some discussion. From there, check out HealthCare.gov or other resources from the Kaiser Foundation to go into detail about the changes.

Happy Literacy Month!

September is Literacy Month and September 8 is International Literacy Day! What are you doing to celebrate? Florida State Parks will offer free admission to over 100 parks across the state if you show your library card, a book checked out from a library or donate a family-friendly book. This includes Fort Mose in St. Augustine, which includes free admission to the visitor center and museum.

The Alachua County Literacy Network and the Alachua County Library District is seeking nominations of volunteers, professionals, businesses and organizations that have worked toward building a community of strong readers in our county in the past year. Nominations are due September 13.

Do you have something exciting planned? Share it with us! You can take a look at FLC’s website for ideas.


New Assistant within the office!

419266_543981092289097_1411597816_nHello Everyone!

My name is Berin Terzić and i am a new assistant at the florida literacy coalition. I just wanted to formally introduce myself.