Adult education

Colorado is no longer the only state not to financially support adult education.

Earlier this month, the Adult Education and Literacy Act, with almost $1 million for adult-education programs in the state, was signed by the governor. It was a collaborative effort, advocated by the adult-education professionals, with support from the community colleges, workforce development organizations and The Bell Policy Center.

For those who have to step away from the track that would have earned them a high school diploma because of personal or family crises, or because of a teenage mismatch with traditional classroom education, work options are very limited. A GED, or general educational development test, can change that. So, too, can the completion of particular classes that can lead to community college acceptance and course specialization.

Money spent to give a boost to those at the bottom of the educational ladder is well-spent. In most cases, those students know what they want and are willing to work to get it. That is particularly true for those who have been in the (limited) workplace for a few years and have seen first-hand what the lack of a high school education has meant to their employment options.

And it is well-known that the higher the parents’ level of education, especially the mother’s, the higher the child’s.

In La Plata County, adult education is delivered by the Durango Education Center at The Commons, a former federal building at Camino del Rio and Seventh Street. Teresa Malone is the DEC’s executive director. In that building, with Southwest Colorado Community College under the same roof, adult-education students, who wish to, can make an easy transition to the first two years of college or to the specialized career training that a community college offers. That is the big benefit to the workforce. And, students can obviously go even further in their post-high school education if they wish.

Those who know the size and needs of the adult-education population in Colorado and the issues say that the $960,000 provided by the state in this first year will not go far. But, everyone recognizes, it is an important start. We are among those who expect that the importance of this financial boost will quickly be clear.

Whether the DEC will benefit from a portion of this state funding is unknown. The terms of the competitive grants have to be written, and then there will be an application period.

Individual accomplishments in education should be greater at every level. Colorado’s funding for adult education will be of help at the critical end of the high school stage.

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