National Summit on Adult Learning

October 8 - 10, 2009, Washington Court Hotel, Washington, DC

Women In Government held the National Summit on Adult Learning: Education as a Driver of Economic Success October 8 – 10, 2009 at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, DC.  To view an agenda from this event, click here.  To view photos from the event, click here.

Below is an overview of conference presentations:

Adult Learning is Key to Workforce and Economic Development 

Pamela Tate
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL)

Pamela Tate from CAEL spoke about the need for more adult workers with post-secondary education, saying that most colleges are not adult-learner friendly. She encouraged legislators to introduce career coaching programs for non-enrolled students, support industry-based training, increase financial aid for part-time learners, and launch social marketing campaigns directed at businesses to re-invest in their employees.

View Presentation

Question and Answer:
Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (AL)- In states that provided incentives, what type of incentives did they provide?
Sen. Beverly Marrero (TN) - Federal Express reimburses students if they take classes and pass-- unfortunately, that idea is hard to sell. How do we encourage other employers to do similar things?
Sen. Meg Burton Cahill (AZ) - Is there a data list regarding what programs each state has for adult education?
Rep. Sara Stevens (ME) - What is the best way to gain credentials outside of internships?

State Policies to Overcome Barriers for Adult Learners

Bruce Chaloux
Director, Electronic Campus
Student Access Programs and Services
Southern Regional Education Board

This presentation focused the policy barriers to adult learning. Since the majority of college students do not fit the typical mold anymore, we need to create flexibility and incentives for non-traditional learners, such as keeping campus writing centers open for longer hours on weeknights and on weekends. Additionally, services like childcare should be available, so that adults do not have to choose between education and family.

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Question and Answer:
Rep. Anne Mook (VT) - Lack of access (literal or financial) to the Internet is a huge problem-- What kind of vision of further education are we enabling for our high school students who lack this kind of access?
Suzanne Shipley (Shepherd University) – (suggestion) Attach yourself to CAEL or other organization; use them for resources and hard work.
Sen. Nan Orrock (GA) - How can we get institutions to transfer credits more easily?
Jane Oates (Employment and Training Administration , US Dept of Labor) - How do we get community colleges and universities to work together to help the student?

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Impact on States: The Federal Leadership Role in Adult Learning

Jane Oates
Assistant Secretary
Employment and Training Administration
United States Department of Labor

Ms. Oates spoke about the need to work across federal agencies to develop strategies for engaging more adult learners, beginning with her own Department of Education.

Question and Answer
Bruce Chaloux (Southern Regional Education Board) – (comment) They are working with Penn State trying to give online education opportunities.
Rep. Renee Schulte (IA) - What kind of people are we looking for in the next wave of jobs?

Model of Success: Kentucky

Lee Nimocks, MA
Chief of Staff
Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

Representative Mary Lou Marzian
Kentucky State Legislature

Representative Joni Jenkins
Kentucky State Legislature

This presentation by Lee Nimocks, Rep. Mary Lou Marzian and Rep. Joni Jenkins talked about their efforts to raise the high school graduation rate, increase the GED rate and attract college-educated workers to the state. They detailed ProjectGraduate and the Kentucky Adult Learning Initiative, two initiatives that the state has been pursuing.

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Question and Answer
Rep. JoAnn Pottorff (KS) - What other initiatives besides LiLAs are there for funding?
Rep. Kathy Hawken (ND) - As legislators, we know that 80 percent of jobs do not necessarily need a four-year degree. Do you have suggestions on how to address that statement or make the “problem” seem more real?
Rep. Trisha Beck (UT) - FAFSA is extremely confusing. How can we make this important document easier to use and understand?

Model of Success: Minnesota

Linda Lade
System Director for College Transitions
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities

Representative David Bly
Vice Chair, Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee
Minnesota State Legislature

Ms. Lade’s presentation focused on innovative programs to engage former soldiers in the education community. She spotlighted Minnesota’s FastTRAC program, which targets 2 million adults in the state. The primary goal of the current Minnesota FastTRAC Initiative is to improve education and employment outcomes of adults, specifically adults who lack the basic academic and employment readiness skills to enter and be successful in occupational skill training programs.

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Question and Answer
Rep. Trisha Beck (UT) – (comment) Requests more information on “beyond the yellow ribbon” program
Rep. Helen Miller (IA) - She represents a rural district-- how is this information different for urban and rural districts?
Rep. Annette Sweeney (IA) - (comment) Has worked with dual credits with secondary institutions with community colleges; it is important not to confuse dual credits and AP classes

Impacts on Adult Education with a Shrinking State Budget

Bruce Vandal, PhD
Director, Postsecondary and Workforce Development Institute
Education Commission of the States

Mr. Vandal incorporated economics into his presentation, speaking about how adult learning can be addressed in a time of budget deficits. He said that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act offers a temporary reprieve for the states, offering over $100 billion in education funds. However, 80 percent of this funding is for grades K-12, so states must be innovative and efficient when tackling adult learning challenges.

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Question and Answer
Rep. Anne Mook (VT) – Regarding TANF money, is there an age requirement for money in the career pathway?

The Hispanic Population and Adult Education

Deborah Santiago
Vice President for Policy and Research
Excelencia in Education

Deborah Santiago from Excelencia in Education focused on Latinos (85 percent who are native born) and the integration of language and skills into the adult education system. She said that legislators must work especially with immigrant population, making sure that their integration is both safe and efficient. Ms. Santiago stressed the importance of linking post-secondary education with workforce development.

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View Additional Handout

View "Building Tomorrow’s Workforce: Promoting the Education & Advancement of Hispanic Immigrant Workers in America"

Question and Answer
Linda Lade (MN State Colleges) - Could you give us contact information, particularly about the career launch information in MN?
Rep. JoAnn Pottorff (KS) - Have you done any work with the meatpacking industry?
Rep. Anne Mook (VT) – Vermont has a large Somolian and refugee population and they do not have an alphabet-- did Minnesota find this to be difficult obstacle and how do you overcome this?

Model of Success: Maine

Melanie Arsenault, MA
Assistant to the Commissioner
Maine Department of Labor

Representative Helen Rankin
Member, Education and Cultural Affairs Committee
Maine State Legislature

Melanie Arsenault from the Maine Department of Labor and Rep. Helen Rankin, member of the Maine Education Committee, focused on several programs that made Maine a model for adult education success. Among these topics were the Workforce Cabinet created by their governor, the Maine Laptop Initiative, Community Support Specialist Program (CSSP) and Dislocated Worker Benefit (DWB) Program.

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