President proposes cuts to adult literacy programs
ProLiteracy Worldwide Responds to President’s Proposed Cuts in Funding for Adult Literacy Programs
Syracuse, NY, February 10, 2005 - ProLiteracy Worldwide, the largest organization of community-based adult literacy programs in the world, today expressed concern over the Administration’s proposal to reduce funding to adult literacy programs by 64 percent in 2006.
The budget calls for a total of $200 million in adult basic and literacy education state grants, down from the $569.7 million requested in FY 2005. Many programs serving adult learners would see their budgets slashed from 50 percent to 75 percent under the proposal; some programs could be forced to close their doors altogether.
“Most adult literacy programs cannot serve everyone on their waiting lists with the public and private funding they receive now,” said Robert Wedgeworth, ProLiteracy president and CEO. “While the Administration wants no child to be left behind, it appears willing to leave many adults without the reading, writing, math and comprehension skills they need to support their families and take part in this country’s democratic process,” he noted. “This is ironic because statistics show that children are more likely to be successful readers when their parents are successful readers.”
Wedgeworth also said it was ironic that the Administration is seeking to cut back adult literacy funding several months before the U.S. Department of Education is due to release its follow-up to the 1993 National Adult Literacy Survey that indicated between 40 and 44 million U.S. residents over the age of 18 fall into the lowest level of literacy skills. The National Assessment of Adult Literacy, scheduled for release later this year, is likely to show that adult literacy continues to be a significant issue in the U.S.
Research shows that low-level literacy skills can be linked to every significant social problem facing the U.S. today:
- According to the National Institute for Literacy, 43 percent of functionally illiterate adults in the U.S. live in poverty.
- More than 60 percent of incarcerated adults in the U.S. do not have adequate reading or writing skills.
- The health care industry attributes a $63 billion annual loss to low literacy.
“Adult education and literacy programs are the frontlines in the fight against this issues,” Wedgeworth said.
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