Rally to Save Adult Education in Arizona

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As reported in Jim Nintzel's Jan. 21 cover story, Slashing the State, "adult education and GED courses would be zeroed out" in Gov. Jan Brewer's budget.

A rally has been scheduled for today from 5 to 6 p.m. at El Rio Learning Center (1390 W. Speedway Blvd.) to save adult education. Organizers would like to see at least 500 in attendance and encourage all to bring banners and signs.

Here's a social media release from Literacy Volunteers of Tucson that says Arizona would be the only state without GED classes.

The budget cuts Governor Jan Brewer is proposing are painful, but one will earn us national recognition. Not only will Arizona have one of the highest high school drop-out rates in the nation, if the proposed cuts are approved, GED classes and testing will no longer be offered in this state. Arizona would become the only state in the country without this service.

“The economic impact of NOT educating the nearly 800,000 Arizonans who do not have a high school diploma is enormous. The elimination of Adult Education will prevent the development and re-training of a prepared workforce that we urgently need to attract and keep existing businesses in Arizona,” says Paula Stuht, Vice President of Business Development of the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

Without a GED it is nearly impossible to go on to further training or

to get a job. 70% of welfare recipients and 65% of the state prison population don’t have high school diplomas. 18% of all high school diplomas issued in Arizona in 2008 were GED diplomas, nearly 1/5 of Arizona's high school graduates.

GED grads earn $5,000 more per year on average, resulting in approximately $70 million additional taxable income in Arizona. Arizona benefits from over $8 million in additional tax revenue from GED graduates which is almost double the return on investment.

If the Governor’s recommendation to totally eliminate its $4.6 million adult education program is ultimately approved, Arizona will sacrifice $11 million of federal funds for adult education that are directly based on the state’s commitment to maintain its funding level.

Arizona plans to set a new record. “Not only will have one of the most abysmal drop-out rates, we will effectively dismantle the only entry point into immediate employment and job training for the approximately 22,000 adults that are served by Adult Education annually," says Ramón Valadez, Chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors. "At a time when more than 1 in 5 people in Pima County is living in poverty can we really afford this?”

Cutting Adult Education and the GED will not help the state’s deficit, it will deepen it.

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