Provided by: The Mayor's Commission on Literacy, Philadelphia
(view the full press release)
On December 10, 2013, nearly 50 leaders in literacy, workforce development, research, postsecondary education, employment, and philanthropy braved a snow storm to engage in advising on national policy to address the country's considerable need to raise the skills and knowledge of its workforce. Results from the latest international study of adult skills, Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), show that U.S. workers trail many other developed nations in foundational skills essential for both individuals and the nation to thrive.
Co-sponsored by the US Department of Education and the Philadelphia Mayor's Commission on Literacy, the event included remarks by Assistant Secretary of Education, Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, a panel discussion, and break-out groups that developed recommendations.
Presently, federal, state and local funding support education services (defined as one class per person) for only 3% per annum of the 36 million low-skilled adults in our country in need of these services. In order for the U.S. Department of Education to (1) better understand the challenges involved in improving these skills; (2) gather input from a wide range of stakeholders; and (3) inform development of a national response, the Secretary of Education has launched a national engagement process with a goal of developing an action plan by April, 2014, that will enable those overlooked by the current educational system to improve their workforce competencies and fully participate in our economy.
After the panel discussion, participants were charged to break into smaller group sessions and recommend strategies that will expand opportunities and close the achievement gap given the current fiscal and political climates.
Mayor's Commission on Literacy Executive Director Dr. Judith Rényi facilitated a panel discussion that included:
Dr. Cheryl Feldman, Executive Director of District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund
Dr. Paul Harrington, Director, Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University
William Strahan, Executive Vice President, Human Resources at Comcast Cable
Meg Shope Koppel, Senior Vice President of Research, Policy & Innovation for Philadelphia Works, Inc.
• Build awareness through a national marketing campaign that creates a common language around the cause; eradicates the stigma associated with adult literacy; and helps businesses, legislators, and adult learners understand what’s at stake if the nation does not invest in its most valuable asset – its workforce;
• Expand beyond traditional Title II adult education funding by taking a unified approach across agencies that leverages resources from various sources;
• Utilize technology in innovative ways that bolster and/or replace traditional classroom instruction and make learning convenient for adults; and
• Change state data systems so learner data can be shared across agencies; thereby eliminating regulatory barriers that take time and resources away from instruction.
Dr. Dan-Messier delivered closing remarks. “We know that we cannot do it at the Federal level. This is going to take sustained systemic work with many strategic partners, but you have our commitment from the Department of Education.”
To learn more about these regional engagement sessions, visit www.timetoreskill.org.