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D.C. Education Advocates Seek More Funding For Adult Programs

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The Office of the State Superintendent for Education wants the District to double its current budget of about $4 million to help fund more adult education programs.
The Office of the State Superintendent for Education wants the District to double its current budget of about $4 million to help fund more adult education programs.

The Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) is asking the D.C. government to double its budget to help educate more of the approximately 85,000 adults in the city who struggle to read and write.

At a City Council hearing on education, Kevin Strothers — one of several adult learners — talked about how much they appreciated a second chance at an education.

"Do you know what it feels like to be a man and not being able to take care of your family?" he asks. "Or read a book to your kids? Or help them with their homework?"

Jessica Wabler manages adult literacy programs for the YWCA National Capital Area. She says they have a waiting list of approximately 100 students that keeps growing. And with the GED test becoming more difficult next year, Wabler estimates it'll take at least another year to prepare students for the exam.

"And so if we remain at the current level we'll find ourselves serving fewer students, so we definitely need the additional funding," Wabler says.

Marcie Foster with the Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success (CLASP) says only one in ten adults who need help can get it.

"Federal funding for adult education is declining extremely rapidly, facing an almost 20 percent decrease in funding since 2002," says Foster.

The adult education budget is now approximately $4 million. Emily Durso with OSSE says doubling that amount will help adult education centers in the District help more residents.

"They need more computers, more space, more instructors; they need more of everything because they have waiting lists of people who want this help," Durso says.

The council is expected to vote on the issue in May.

For more on adult education, view WAMU 88.5's five-part series, Yesterday's Dropouts, which examines the struggles adults face when they drop out of school without a diploma.

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