Committing to More Adult Schools by 2020

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Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin, Chief of Staff Carmen Drummond, and Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim Ford listen to Carlos Rosario student Senovio, a student in the culinary arts program.

Over the last few months, staff of the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) visited adult charter schools and schools for disconnected or opportunity youth in the D.C. area. We were inspired by the dedicated students, faculty, and staff and saw the need for more high-quality and adequately resourced adult and family charter schools, pilot schools, or other blended learning or hybrid schools for adults and opportunity youth in the United States. There are currently 36 million adults and 5.3 million disconnected or opportunity youth in the country who could benefit from access to such schools.

On our visits we met students like Senovio, who dreams of owning his own restaurant one day. Senovio’s dedication to his dream was apparent as he shared how he works up to 70 hours a week as a sous chef at a local Mexican restaurant and sometimes wakes up at 4 a.m. to do his homework before heading to class. Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School is helping Senovio prepare for his future with a restaurant-grade kitchen where his culinary training classes are held. Next to the kitchen classroom is a dining room where the students practice serving and interacting with customers. Carlos Rosario International PCS and the other adult schools we visited in D.C. are giving students like Senovio the opportunity to learn in-demand occupational skills and employability skills necessary for employment, while they learn literacy and numeracy.

Today’s older youth and adult learners face a number of obstacles that keep them from completing their education, for this reason it is critical that the schools that serve them provide the needed supports to minimize these external barriers. For example, the schools we visited offer day, evening, and night classes to make sure their classes meet the varying schedules of students, free child care while students attend class, and transportation subsidies. They also offer college and career counseling and give students social services support. Communities across the country can benefit from models like these that give older youth, low-skilled adults, and families access to high-quality, adequately resourced schools.

Today, December 1, 2016, OCTAE, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, and the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School hosted the first Adult Schools Growth Forum focused on expanding high-quality schools for low-skilled adult learners, opportunity youth, and other disadvantaged older youth and adults.

The forum is the first step in what we hope will be a continued conversation on how to expand educational options for older youth, adults, and families. The event brought together individuals and organizations with a vested interest in expanding access to high-quality schools for adults including adult charter school and adult school operators, community leaders interested in creating high-quality and adequately resourced adult schools, charter school authorizers, city and state education policy decision makers, national associations, researchers and evaluators, potential investors, federal agencies, and intermediaries involved in promoting and expanding access to these types of schools.

Please join me in committing to create #MoreAdultSchools and increase the number of high-quality and adequately resourced adult and family charter schools, pilot schools, or other schools for adults by 100 or more schools across the country over the next three years. To see what concrete steps you can take to help increase the number of high quality adult schools, look at the menu of actions paper.

For more information on adult schools, a follow-up paper articulating key recommendations from today’s event, and much more, head to