LANSING, Michigan – After decades of declining funding for adult education in Michigan, advocates are calling for more money and a change in the allocation of funds.

In the late 1990s, the state spent more than $ 80 million a year on GED and high school graduation programs. It’s only been $ 20 million in recent years Michigan Public Order League. As a result, around 20 adult education programs across the country have been closed, particularly affecting students in rural areas

“Funding has not kept pace with the needs and changing landscape of service delivery,” said Patrick Brown, an outreach associate at Michigan’s Children, an advocacy group based in Lansing.

But the need is still great. More than one in eleven Michigandans have not graduated from high school.

Brown stated that much of the money originally used to fund adult education has been allocated to other programs that focus on professional maturity.

“Although they are very helpful in their professional careers, in the post-secondary area, the education component is still very important and important for people to be successful in the workplace,” he said.

The money made available for adult education is channeled through the K-12 school districts. Proponents say that in many cases it would work better to channel that money to institutions that are already teaching adults like community colleges.

“The money really doesn’t go to the community colleges,” said Mike Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association. “If we had more money, we could offer more services to adults who need a high school diploma or equivalent.”

Independent adult education programs such as the Capital Area Literacy Coalition are also excluded from government funding and rely on individual donations.

“A large part of our funding currently consists of private donations, so it will be a little difficult,” said Barbara Schmidt, director of the Literacy Coalition. The coalition also receives grants, but “it’s a very tough time with so many people competing for money. It was a very tough year and a half, it really changed the finances a lot. “

The organization offers English as a Second Language, Reading Literacy, and GED programs along with other adult education courses. Students are allowed to work at their own pace outside of the classroom, which was particularly useful during the pandemic.

The state does not recognize their programs as they are not part of the K-12 system. Schmidt said a little government money would also help.

“Anything they could help us with would be a godsend because it is very difficult to try to balance what we have to do [students] and do it financially. Most of the people who come here literally can’t afford to do it any other way, ”she said.

Hansen agreed.

“I think it’s safe to say that Michigan is generally underfunded, and if we had more money we could offer more services to adults who need a high school diploma or equivalent,” he said.

Fox 47 News reached out to members of committees in the Michigan House and Senate dealing with education funding, but received no response.

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