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Adult Literacy and New Technologies - Federation of American ...

Adult Literacy and New Technologies - Federation of American ...

130 I

130 I Adult Literacy and New Technologies: Tools for a Lifetime 1914 1917 1918 192a 1929 1933 1945 1955 1%3 1964 1966 1969 1970 1972 1974 1975 1978 1983

War on Poverty program overseen by a new Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO). The modern Federal role really took shape in 1966 with passage of the Adult Education Act, still the cornerstone of the Federal role today. Prior to 1966, few States had invested in adult basic education on their own. 4 The AEA transferred administrative responsibility for the State grant program from OEO to the U.S. 0ffice of Education in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and broadened the program to encompass basic education, English as a second language (ESL), and citizenship education. States received funds based on their numbers of adults without a high school diploma, and demand for services soon exceeded expectations. In subsequent years, the act was amended several times to encourage secondary-school completion programs, place more emphasis on special populations, build teacher training capacity, and broaden the base of service providers. Beginning in the mid-1960s and continuing through the 1980s, Congress also enacted several other laws with implications for literacy policy: e.g., the Vocational Education Act, the Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA), the JTPA, the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) literacy program, and the Indian Education Act. Public Awareness, “Bully Pulpit,” and National Leadership President Herbert Hoover’s 1929 advisory committee on national illiteracy was an early effort to publicize illiteracy problems and rally public, private, and volunteer support-the bully pulpit approach. The Right to Read initiative, begun in 1969 under President Richard Nixon, was another such campaign; 6 years later the effort was downgraded in the bureaucracy, its goal of eradicating illiteracy by 1980 far from Chapter 5-The Federal Role in Adult Literacy Education . 131 ——. BOOKS Many approaches have been used to gain public support and stimulate action to improve literacy. This 1938 poster by Rockwell Kent was part of the Federal Government’s effort to stress the importance of reading. being achieved. In the 1980s, the Adult Literacy Initiative under the Reagan Administration once again sought to raise public awareness, promote volunteerism, and coordinate literacy activities across the Federal Government. 5 The Federal Government also helped shape literacy policy through efforts to document and define adult competencies. The 1975 Adult Performance Level survey and the 1986 literacy survey of young adults conducted by the National 4 James T. Parker, “Modeling a Future Basic l!lducatiom” Afuh Leurning, vol. 1, No. 4, January 1990, p. 16. S A persistent criticism of these kinds of public awareness campaigns was that they offered the ‘‘illusion of genuine commitment” without mean@@l new funding or consistent programma tiC SUppOIt, and as such would OIdy “. . . sedate some people with the notion that ‘something important’ was now going to be done. ” Jonathan Kozol 11/iterate America (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1986), p. 51,

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