The State Board of Community and Technical Colleges is predicting that its member schools will serve 10,000 fewer Adult Basic Education (ABE) students this year than in the previous year. This is because, while the 2012 legislative session left Washington’s community and technical colleges with about the same levels of funding as the year before, previous years’ cuts are finally making their impact. After several years of absorbing growing enrollments despite significant financial disincentives to do so, community and technical colleges are making cuts they feel they can no longer avoid to ABE programs.
ABE students tend to be low-skilled and low-income. Many of them speak English as a second language, and many are people of color. People of these demographics make up the fastest growing segment of the population in Washington, and are a vital part of Washington’s future workforce.
Funding for ABE programs has decreased an average of $1,200 per student this year, a real hardship considering that ABE students do not qualify for federal financial aid and only five percent of ABE students are employed at a living wage. Colleges have significantly reduced ABE classes, primarily because they generate little revenue.
For more in this topic, complete with graphs, see the latest Seattle Jobs Initiative Beyond the Headlines here