Sunday, November 2, 2014

From the "Things That Are Disturbing" File: David Perdue and Adult Education

Robert Reich, on his Facebook page, shares:
“I spent most of my career” outsourcing jobs, said David Perdue, a business executive who’s running for Senate from Georgia in one of the closest-watched and tightest races in the nation. "This is a part of American business, part of any business. Outsourcing is the procurement of products and services to help your business run. People do that all day." He blames America’s jobs losses instead on “bad government policies: tax policy, regulation, even compliance requirements. It puts us at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the world.”

David Perdue is a Commissioner on the National Commission on Adult Literacy.   He is also CEO of the Dollar GeneralAnd as of November 5, he's a U.S. Senator from Georgia.

There are two big organizations that help shape Adult Ed policy on the national level, NCAL (the National Commission on Adult Literacy), and NCL (the National Coalition for Literacy).

They aren't only the shapers, of course.  Grassroots groups, Teachers Unions, Legislators, Think Tanks, Academics, there are many.  But these two groups definitely have an impact and they work on the national level, which is important. 

More and more, things are flowing in a top down and federal sort of way - Common Core, College & Career Readiness, these are changes flowing from DC.  California is and isn't embracing these changes.  We are a big state with an economy stronger than most of the world's countries.  California doesn't say yes to everything.  It sometimes does things its own way and until the Crash of 2009, it had much stronger and better Adult Education than most states which it funded with its own money - unlike many states.  All that in mind, it is still 1 of 50 states united under a Federal Government which has been changing public education in a number of significant ways.   And where California isn't saying "yes" to changes suggested by the Federal Government, it's making its own changes.  All in all, in California and everywhere else in these United States, public education is changing.

None of that, in and of itself, is good or bad.  It is change.  As always, we need to be awake to what is changing, look it over closely in light of the big picture, and then consider how the changes do or don't benefit our people.  If and where we think the changes are beneficial, we need to nurture and encourage those changes.  If and where we consider them harmful, we need to take steps to arrest the bad and begin the good.

Back to our story, the similarity of the names and acronyms - NCL and NCAL - makes it hard to remember which is which but it's important to try.  They are different in some important ways.  I won't try to detail the differences here.  I'll doing so to my "List of One Hundred Posts I Need to Write."

I will note that NCL and NCAL are similar in an important way.  Both have received big funds from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.  History of NCL here.  History of NCAL here.

From the "Adult Ed Reform" post on the Alliance for California Adult Schools Blog:

National Commission on Adult Literacy - The Council grew out of two background assessment and planning projects carried out in early 2001. Funding for that work came from Harold W. McGraw, Jr., The Ford Foundation, and The Carnegie Corporation. One project assessed the status and lingering problems of adult literacy, following the work of the Business Council for Effective Literacy (BCEL); the other explored the feasibility of establishing a blue-ribbon commission on adult literacy. Both projects developed lengthy research and action agendas, and the rationale for them. CAAL was formed to build on that foundation, including the work of BCEL, its predecessor organization.  Chairman of NCAL, David Perdue (Dollar General Literacy Foundation)

I created my own powerpoint on Adult Ed Reform for the Grassroots Summit last summer in June 2014 but have yet to post it on this blog.

One thing that is always strange and interesting to me is the involvement of Dollar Stores in Adult Education.  Both of the big Dollar stores have been involved in Adult Ed philanthropy/policy (Dollar General and Family Dollar).  Dollar General - David Perdue's company - is now in pursuit of Family Dollar so we may be down to just one horse in the race very soon. 

On the one hand, I can see that a Dollar Store corporation would understand the struggles of people who, because of poverty, are very likely to shop at Dollar Stores.  Poverty has a strong connection with lack of education.  And yet, the fact that David Perdue, CEO of Dollar General, considers outsourcing something to be proud of... Wow, how does this work?  How does outsourcing connect with a place to buy cheap stuff made by people working very hard jobs probably without a lot of work and safety rules connect with Adult Education?  If you are providing people with a place to buy cheap stuff and you are sending jobs overseas, what kind of education might you suggest would be best for the country?

Who benefits?  That was the question that drove my own powerpoint on Adult Ed Reform and I suppose at some point I should post it here.

In the meantime, I wanted to be sure you knew about Mr. Perdue.

You can put it in your "Things That Are Disturbing" file where it will hopefully compost into "Great Ideas For How to Increase Democracy and Public Engagement in Great Public Education."

Such things do happen.

From this... this... It happens!

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