Learning (Aprendizaje)

IND-EDU-071120-2smLast week, I was lucky enough to sit in on an adult education class in a small Nebraska community. The first assignment was to write a simple letter to a friend. Many of the students were attending the class in order to learn English. In an attempt to see what the class might be like for the students, I took a crack at writing the letter in Spanish. I know a little (un poco) Spanish.

I bombed. I couldn’t remember the word for “have” (tengo.) My grammar was beyond repair. A nice man sitting next to me in class offered to look at what I had written. “How did I do?” I asked. I could see he was struggling to find kind words for my mixed up letter. Finally he smiled a little and said “It’s complicated.” I laughed at my own shortcomings and sat back to watch the rest of the class.

Nebraska has a variety of adult learning programs across the state, some are run through community colleges, others through human services agencies, and a few are public/private partnerships with businesses in the state. Some teach English as a Second Language (ESL), some teach basic reading and writing, others help students prepare for the General Equivalency Diploma (GED) test.

This is because adults in need of basic educational skills are very diverse, some are ESL students, some have learning disabilities, others are working to complete a GED while facing work and family pressures.

At the end of the day, all of the students, the teachers, and the adult education programs across the state deserve kudos. They work hard to make the most of educational opportunities. In Nebraska, the difference in earnings between an individual without a High School Diploma or GED and an individual with such a credential is $3,500.

Yet, as a state, we rank 43rd in the nation in our investment in Adult Education programming, and we are able to serve only 8.3% of the 104,680 adults without a High School Diploma or GED in Nebraska. Nebraska Appleseed continues our learning (aprendizaje) about this important system serving our state. In 2010, we will release a report with our recommendations for action. Stay tuned!

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