Adult Basic Education (ABE) is a program that many community and technical college educators don't think about much. However, we probably all should.
Not every Texas community college is a provider site for ABE instruction, which offers a range of services funded largely with federal revenue. However, states must provide matching dollars, and do so at greatly different levels. Basic literacy, GED instruction, ESL, and math fundamentals are commonly taught in the program, to give a few examples.
Texas policy makers, including Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes, have suggested that students with extremely low academic levels might be better served in ABE than in developmental education. If the Legislature agrees in 2013, it could be a seismic shift in the state's approach to higher education. Dr. Paredes emphasizes, however, that ABE is greatly underfunded in Texas, and he does not support simply shunting these individuals into inferior programs. For background, please see this previous post.
Three sentences of his commentary:
In a more rational world, programs like “adult literacy” would be much higher priorities. If a kid who might have gone to Penn has to settle for Bucknell, she’ll be fine. But if a young mother never learns to read, the damage done is real, and felt over generations.
Substitute the top schools with a pair of so-called flagship universities in Texas, and you've got an interesting point closer to home.