HANCEVILLE, ALA. – In early August, Wallace State student Cole Shivers was determined to enroll in the welding program for the fall semester.
The main obstacle standing in Shivers’ way from attaining that goal was earning his GED (General Education Development) degree through Wallace State’s Adult Education program.
Shivers began taking Adult Education evening classes on Aug. 1 and swiftly completed his requirements, earning his GED certificate on Aug. 10.
One reason Shivers completed his requirements so quickly was because of his strong reading capabilities.
“I was homeschooled when I was younger and I read a lot. I spent a lot of time reading books even after I dropped out of school. I’ve always read well and comprehended it. I’ve always enjoyed it,” said Shivers, 22.
Reading doesn’t come as natural to everyone as it does Shivers.
This National Coalition on Literacy has declared this week (Sept. 26-Oct. 1) as National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week. It’s set aside each year to raise awareness about local adult education resources that are available in communities nationwide.
According to the National Coalition on Literacy, there are approximately 36 million adults who have low literacy skills. Nearly 30 percent of adults with household incomes at or below the poverty level do not have high school credentials. On the other hand, individuals with high school credentials earn about $10,000 more than annually than those without a degree.
“Literacy skills are extremely important. Parents who lack literacy skills or who have low literacy skills are unable to help their children with homework. Children who come from homes with low education levels tend to have low education outcomes themselves. Anything that we can do as educators to boost even the most basic literacy skills — not only are we helping them — but we are helping their children. Studies have shown that a mother’s educational level tends to have a higher impact on the attainment of their children,” said Wallace State Adult Education Coordinator John Glasscock. “A big problem that we continue to see is not illiteracy, where an individual is completely unable to read, but functional illiteracy. In this situation, a person is able to read on a limited basis, but they can’t complete tasks as simple as being able to comprehend a prescription or directions to a new location. In addition, many people are numerically illiterate, where they lack the ability to resolve a billing dispute. The people in both of these groups possess the basic skills, but they struggle to navigate daily life. Adult Education programs can help to close these skill gaps and get people the education that they need to be productive members of society.”
On the local level, 2010 U.S. Census data showed that 18.5 percent of the population ages 25 and older in Cullman County had less than a high school diploma. In addition, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, high school dropouts are up to three times more likely to be unemployed than people with a college degree. Even when high school dropouts are employed, on average, they earn $10,000 less than a high school graduate.
“During my 30-year career in Alabama’s community college system, I have personally witnessed the transformational change in students who are finally able to achieve that dream deferred, high school graduation through the high school equivalency diploma,” said Wallace State President Dr. Vicki Karolewics. “Not only is it a milestone in their lives, but it opens doors to the future in terms of better jobs and a living wage to support their families. Alabama is fourth in the nation in poverty. Alabama must continue to prioritize raising the educational attainment and literacy rates in this great state if we are ever to reduce the extensive poverty that affects our economic future.”
Wallace State’s Adult Education program has classes taught on campus, online and at selected off-campus sites in Blount, Cullman, Morgan and Winston Counties. Off-campus sites include churches, community centers, correctional facilities and rehabilitation centers.
During the 2015-16 academic year, Wallace State’s Adult Education instructors combined to teach 25,619 instructional hours as the program graduated 178 students.
Shivers came on board after the most recent Wallace State Adult Education class graduated in May. If an individual is struggling with literacy or a different skill and it’s prohibiting them from pursuing a GED, Shivers encourages them to take that initial step into the program.
“I understand the negative feelings one can have about starting back or believing that people may think you aren’t smart,” Shivers said. “You can get through it. Once you see how willing and accommodating the instructors are in the program, you’ll see how beneficial it is to better yourself.”
For more information about the Wallace State Adult Education program, contact Glasscock at 256.352.8077. To learn more about the National Coalition on Literacy, visit http://national-coalition-literacy.org/
For more information about Wallace State, visit www.wallacestate.edu.
Wallace State Community College
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