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action work

Where are the teachers? Adult Education Workers Explain the “Teacher Shortage” 

In this newest report we want to document teachers in their own voices and focus on individual experiences that give insight into the so-called “teacher shortage.” The collection of voices you will read are respondents to a survey launched by Adult Ed WAVE (Workers Amplifying Voices for Equity) in July and August of 2023. 


Adult Ed WAVE is a group of current and former Adult Education workers who began meeting in early 2023 in response to the increased interest in the Wage Transparency Project. The group’s mission is to center teachers’ experiences and increase teacher representation in field-wide decision-making. In WAVE’s most recent survey we asked for Adult Education workers’ thoughts on the “teacher shortage.”


The mission of Adult Ed WAVE is to highlight the human cost of undervaluing Adult Education by documenting teacher experiences, and this report hopes to be an expression of that goal. 


Your voice is important to this movement. If you feel like your experience is missing from this report, please reach out to (or if you have any questions.)

Click the image below to read the full report 

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"A revolving door of professionals": Investigating High Turnover in Adult Education in Illinois

This report is a direct extension of the Wage Transparency Project. While that project will continue to be used as an informational tool for adult education workers, this report is our next step. 

We collected stories and insights from Adult Education workers about their experience in the field. Many are leaving Adult Education, while many are struggling to stay in it. Both cite low wages and the prevelance of part-time work as their reason for the dissatisfaction they have for their jobs. 

The first iteration of this report was directed at the Secretary of State's Adult Volunteer Literacy Program. We call on the state of Illinois to invest in Adult Education workers by increasing funding to adult literacy and providing guidance around sustainable wages. 

With more audiences in mind, we will continue to create new versions of this report but the message is the same: high wages and full-time positions (40 hours/week) for adult education workers. 


This is an on-going effort and everything we learn related to these issues will be available to the public. Please reach out to if you have any questions. 

Click the image below to read the full report or read our one page summary. 

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The State of Digital Inclusion

In 2021, we ask adult learners and tutors across Illinois about how they access and use the internet where they live. Among other findings, we learnerd that 23% of respondents reported not having reliable access to the internet and either left or were struggling to continue their adult education classes. 

When programs ask to spend their grant funds on internet equipment to support these learners, they were told that it was not allowed according to grantmaking rules from the Illinois Secretary of State Library Office.

In response, we created a report of our results and shared it with this funder with the aim of changing the rule so programs could spend their funding on hotspots or tablets. 

In the summer of 2022, this funder changed the rule and now programs are able to spend their funding for this need. Our report was credited with being part of the reason for this change. 

Click the image below to read the full report. 

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It Starts and Ends with the Funders:

More Insights into Turnover in Adult Education in Illinois

This report is a supplement to our first piece where we called on SOS to allocate more funding towards their grant. This one focuses specifically on ICCB and how their funding policies directly impact the Adult Education field.

In our earlier piece, we mentioned the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) as the biggest funder of Adult Education in Illinois, but we did not detail the role they play in the high turnover rate. We also felt that there was more to say on the subject as we received more responses in our Wage Transparency Survey, specifically about ICCB. 

In this latest piece, we call on ICCB to make changes to their grantmaking strategies and acknowledge the harm that these policies have cause the field of Adult Education. Among other action items, we call for them to elimitate their "Generation" policy, distribute allocated funds in a timely manner, and recognize that learning English has value apart from WIOA goals. 


This is an on-going effort and everything we learn related to these issues will be available to the public. Please reach out to if you have any questions. 

Click the image below to read the full report 

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Adult Education Wage Transparency Project

As passionate advocates for literacy justice, we feel that adult educators deserve to know the reasons behind their salaries. At Literacy Works, we share many job posts but we require that the salary or hourly rate be included otherwise we won’t share it. One organization responded, “But if we show how much we’ll pay, people won’t apply”.


We were immediately struck by how powerful wage transparency can be. If people know how much to ask for and employers know they’re going to ask - wages will rise and workers will be able to stay and invest in their work. 

In the summer of 2022, we started our work towards a more sustainable adult education field. We asked teachers and administrators to share their experiences around wages and their work in adult education. They are responding through surveys, jamboard posts, live events, support letters, and anonymous comments. 

View the results:

This is an on-going effort and everything we learn related to this project is available to the public. Please reach out to if you have any questions. 

Click the image below to learn more about the project and see what has happened so far.

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This project from Literacy Works aims to bring thought-provoking ideas that advance social justice principles from discussion to action. Each quarter, we'll focus on a new topic and provide resources for you to read, learn, discuss, and act. 

  • READ: A week or two before the discussion, we'll send out a copy of our latest action paper.​

  • LEARN: After reading, check out the resources and extended learning opportunities on the topic.

  • DISCUSS: Next, you join us to discuss what you learned.

  • ACT: Last, you take this information back to your organization and start new conversations

We cover topics like collaboration between adult ed programs, the working conditions of adult educators, and the current emphasis on workforce over education. 

Click the image below to read all of our past papers.

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