PCC Adult Education students go to Washington to defend program
Eight current and former Pima Community College Adult Education students leave for Washington, D.C., today to attend a leadership conference and encourage Arizona lawmakers to oppose program cuts proposed by President Bush.
Greg Hart, dean of adult education, said the students are just a few of the success stories of adult education, having earned high school equivalency diplomas, learned English and created a better future for their families and themselves.
The students, ranging in age from 27 to 45, include refugees from Kosovo and Mauritania, and several who have learned English as a second language.
All of them credit adult education with providing opportunities they could not have had elsewhere.
"Adult education has given me independence," said Coumba Sy, 35, who came to the United States from Mauritania seeking political asylum.
The group will participate this week in the Adult Learner Leadership Institute, sponsored by the Voice for Adult Literacy United for Education, a non-profit group founded by graduates of adult basic education programs.
The group will meet with Reps. Jim Kolbe and Raśl Grijalva and has appointments with the offices of Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain.
David DeLeon, 27, earned his GED through the adult education program and is now close to finishing his associate's degree at Pima. He said the goal is to show lawmakers the value of the programs.
Pima College spent about $350 per student in adult education last year and serves about 10,000 people a year.
"That $350 changed my life as much as if somebody gave me a million dollars," DeLeon said. In his proposed budget for fiscal year 2006, Bush calls for a 66 percent reduction in the $569 million spent last year on adult education and elimination of the $225 million Even Start Family Literacy program.
The funding cuts would force Pima to limit adult education to only about 2,000 students, Hart said.
In Arizona, about 25 percent of high school diplomas are awarded through adult education GED programs.
"It's a bad idea to shut off the pathways to educational opportunities," he said.
● Contact reporter Eric Swedlund at 573-4115 or at eswedlund@azstarnet.com