Why Remote English Classes are Essential for Post-Coronavirus Recovery
CPC continues to serve more than 150 English learners in 10 classes online as they strive to be more involved in their children’s education, gain necessary job skills, learn about our healthcare system, and work toward becoming a U.S. citizen. CPC's adult literacy classrooms, though remote, operate with the same staffing and curriculum. In addition to English instruction, they are a space to share information and discuss challenges like caring for loved ones and xenophobia.
In our adult English literacy classes, students receive vital information regarding COVID-19, health screening resources, employment opportunities, and learning how to complete the Census 2020. In our classes, students are learning important lessons like interview techniques, U.S. civics, and systems of healthcare. As we plan for a post-COVID economy, more than ever, adult literacy classes are needed to assist the community with the necessary skills to navigate our new normal.
While learning remotely, adults in CPC's English classes submitted videos of themselves describing their goals for strengthening their language skills. One such student, Immui Loi, is practicing so that she can advance at her job, while another student, Wenfei Lin wants to continue using her skills as a home health aid.
Throughout the year, CPC sees about 1,500 community members walk into our centers looking for adult literacy classes every year. At current funding levels, we are only able to seat about 500 students annually. We know adult literacy education is essential for our communities because language skills are the cornerstone to gainful employment, improved job performance, and community building. We also know the benefits of our English classes because we see the impacts in the lives of our community members.
Last year, within months of completing their class, student responses to post-class surveys showed that:
- 37% of students found a new job or better job and nearly half (47%) felt better equipped to support their children’s education.
- A dozen students passed their Citizenship Exam.
- 17 students said they became more engaged with community activities or political groups.
Restoring $12 million to the city's budget for adult literacy programs will mean students can more quickly navigate our health care system, workforce, and meet the many challenges of our post-COVID environment. With adult literacy, students can better engage in their children’s academic studies, communicate with their neighbors, and better participate in our democracy. We know that 2.2 million New Yorkers lack basic literacy skills and/or a high school equivalency. More than ever, in our post-COVID recovery, we must restore the $12 million to the discretionary budget for adult literacy programs across the city.
Like accessible English skills, digital literacy skills are not only essential for the future success of our communities, they are essential right now. Until it is safe to resume in-person programming at our community centers, our program has the capacity to continue to provide the same adult English literacy education and, at the same time, build out needed digital literacy services for our communities.
But what happens to our students without the full restoration of the $12 million to discretionary contracts and investment in digital literacy? CPC would lose more than half of our current classes. It would also mean we are not able to provide staffing for the wrap around services and counseling that students need outside of the classroom. More importantly, students’ lives will be put on hold as people wait to achieve a high school equivalency, enter the workforce, assist in their children’s homework, or become a U.S. citizen.