LVA's holiday party occurs on Tuesday, December 17 from 10 AM - 2 PM at 635 Edgewood Street, NE. It's on the 9th floor. Please contribute to the spirit of giving by bringing a dish of food for others to enjoy. The holiday party is a great way to meet LVA learners, tutors, and staff in an informal, festive atmosphere.
A recent book addressing education reform helps to demonstrate why adult education is important. The fact that policymakers in DC concerned with improving K-12 education are likely to read The Smartest Kids In The World And How They Got That Way should put this book on the radar of adult education advocates too.
Amanda Ripley, the author, an Emerson Fellow at the New America Foundation, confirms through her research what adult education advocates have been insisting for years.
Ms. Ripley writes that many parents and children in American schools participate in the PTA and regularly attend open houses and parent-teacher conferences at the schools their children attend. But there is something even more important to helping children succeed in school.
Ms. Ripley writes that results from the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment), an international ranking used to score proficiency of students in subjects including mathematics, reading, and science, demonstrate the importance of having parents read to their children. She writes, "Parents who read to their children weekly or daily when they were young raised children who scored twenty-five points higher on PISA by the time they were fifteen years old. That was almost a full year of learning." (p. 110-111).
There's more. Parents who read for "pleasure" are helping to show their children why reading is important. The children follow the example that their parents are setting. "That pattern held fast across very different countries and different levels of family income. Kids could see what parents valued, and it mattered more than what parents said," notes Ms. Ripley.
Only 40% of the parents surveyed by the PISA did read for pleasure prompting Ms. Ripley to wonder what parents would do if they knew that just spending more time reading might help their children to become better readers too.
Many LVA learners come to classes and tutoring sessions to improve their reading skills because they want to share the pleasure of reading with their children. They know, sometimes from painful experiences in trying to obtain jobs, that education is increasingly important to obtaining positions that pay well.
Indeed, Ms. Ripley recounts on page 182 a conversation she had with an American businessperson on how jobs are changing. The businesswoman tells Ms. Ripley that today's maintenance workers must now "be able to understand technical blueprints; communicate in writing what had happened on their shifts; test possible solutions to complex, dynamic problems; and, of course, troubleshoot and repair major mechanical systems."
Give LVA's adult learners credit. They often know through intuition and experience what Ms. Ripley uncovered through her research about the importance of reading to their children and the need to improve their own skills so they can obtain the jobs that will best enable them to provide for their families.
Increasingly, educators are coming to realize the vital links that exist between adult literacy, adult education and pre-K-12 school reform. The Academy of Hope made that link clear at a forum held this fall. Ms. Ripley's book provides more evidence. Advocates of adult literacy have to make sure that policymakers in DC and nationally realize it too.
The Smartest Kids In The World And How They Got That Way is available through the DC Public Library.