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Public Statements

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Designating National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week

Today, U.S Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jim Webb (D-VA), Mark Begich (D-AK), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a bipartisan Senate Resolution recognizing the week of September 12, 2011 as National Adult Education and Family Literacy week.

"I am proud to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation that recognizes the importance of adult education and literacy programs," said Senator Patty Murray. "As we continue working to create jobs and get our economy back on track, we need to make sure that our students and workers have the education and literacy skills they need to succeed in school, in their careers, and in life--and adult education and family literacy programs are an important part of helping us achieve this goal."

"Nothing is so important to finding a job and achieving the American Dream as the ability to read, yet millions of Americans still lack this essential skill," said Senator Lamar Alexander. "This bipartisan resolution recognizes the good work that adult education and literacy programs do for our economy and our citizens by helping students and workers get the education they need to succeed in the competitive workplace."

"Providing our citizens with a strong education is vital to America's success in the 21st Century economy," said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "Adult Education and family literacy programs provide the basic skills required to find jobs and help parents prepare their children to excel in school."

"The American workplace has seen many changes over the past ten years, and the need for well-trained and highly skilled workers has increased dramatically," said Senator Jim Webb. "One of the biggest impacts we can have on our economic future is to ensure that as many workers as possible are able to improve the skills and credentials needed to compete in our global economy."

"Across the world, we view literacy rates as a measuring stick for a nation's economic future and I think it's time we do the same here at home," said Senator Mark Begich. "Adult education and family literacy programs are a powerful way to promote our economic recovery and empower America's families. These programs are an important part of putting Americans back to work by preparing them with the tools they need to succeed in their careers and provide for their families."

"As our nation's unemployment rate remains at unacceptable levels, it is critical that Congress makes important investments in adult education and family literacy," said Senator Tim Johnson. "Adult education programs enable adults to complete high school, and succeed as workers, parents, and citizens. Adult education promotes independence and is a real investment in America's workforce. "

"As Congress works to put America back to work, we value adult education and family literacy programs that give individuals the tools they need to succeed in today's job market," said Senator Ben Cardin. "I am proud to cosponsor this bipartisan resolution that recognizes the impact of adult education and literacy programs on employment and economic recovery," said Senator Ben Cardin.

"Our efforts to promote job creation depend on a well-educated workforce," said Senator Bob Casey. "Adult education and literacy programs play an important role in providing adults with the skills they need to have successful careers. Equally important, children benefit when their parents have the literacy skills to read to their children and help with their schoolwork, making adult education beneficial to the whole family."

"Literacy is the backbone on which Americans build success," said Senator Lisa Murkowski. "Those who are literate are more likely to get and keep a good job, help their children succeed in school, and be part of a robust American economy. Literacy enriches our lives by unlocking access to our history, our culture, and our future. I strongly support efforts in Alaska and across the nation to increase adult and family literacy skills and encourage all Americans to do so, too."

It is estimated that 90 million adults in America lack the literacy, numeracy, or English language skills to succeed at home and in the workplace. The lack of these skills in the increasingly competitive 21st century economy is a tremendous disadvantage to individuals. The role of adult education and family literacy is also critical to children whose lives become more stable and successful as the level of their parent's education increases. The nation's unemployment rate is highest among individuals without a high school diploma or an equivalent credential, indicating that education is key to economic recovery.

The full text of the Resolution follows:

Supporting the designation of National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week.

Whereas the National Assessment of Adult Literacy reports that approximately 90,000,000 adults in the United States lack the literacy, numeracy, or English language skills necessary to succeed at home, in the workplace, and in society;

Whereas the literacy of the people of the United States is essential for the social and economic well-being of the United States, and literacy allows individuals to benefit from full participation in society;

Whereas the United States reaps the economic benefits from the efforts of individuals to raise their literacy, numeracy, and English language skills;

Whereas literacy and educational skills are a prerequisite to individuals reaping the full benefit of opportunities in the United States;

Whereas the economy and the position of the United States in the world marketplace depend on having a literate, skilled population;

Whereas the unemployment rate in the United States is highest among individuals without a high school diploma or an equivalent credential, indicating that education is key to economic recovery;

Whereas parents who are educated and read to their children directly impact the educational success of their children;

Whereas parental involvement is a key predictor of a child's success, and the level of parental involvement increases as the education level of the parent increases;

Whereas parents in family literacy programs become more involved in their children's education and gain the tools necessary to obtain a job or find better employment;

Whereas, as a result of family literacy programs, children's lives become more stable, and success in the classroom, and in all future endeavors, becomes more likely;

Whereas adults need to be part of a long-term solution to the education challenges of the United States;

Whereas many older people in the United States lack the reading, math, or English language skills necessary to read a prescription and follow medical instructions, endangering their lives and the lives of their loved ones;

Whereas many individuals who are unemployed, underemployed, or receive public assistance lack the literacy skills to obtain and keep a job to sustain their family, continue their education, or participate in job training programs;

Whereas many high school dropouts do not have the literacy skills to complete their education, transition to postsecondary education or career and technical training, or become employed;

Whereas a large percentage of individuals in prison have low educational skills, and prisoners without educational skills are more likely to return to prison once released;

Whereas many immigrants to the United States do not have the literacy skills necessary to succeed in the United States;

Whereas National Adult Education and Family Literacy week highlights the need to ensure that each and every citizen has the necessary literacy and educational skills to succeed at home, at work, and in society; and

Whereas the week beginning September 12, 2011, would be an appropriate week to designate as National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate--

(1) supports the designation of National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, including raising public awareness about the importance of adult education, workforce skills, and family literacy; (2) encourages people across the United States to support programs to assist those in need of adult education, workforce skills upgrading, and family literacy programs; and (3) recognizes the importance of adult education, workforce skills, and family literacy programs, and calls upon public, private, and non-profit stakeholders to support increased access to adult education and family literacy programs to ensure a literate society.


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