"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Opportunity Index

opportunity index

If you have a few minutes, you might want to check out this link or read more about it in the recent  OVAE newsletter.  The Opportunity Index provides a composite score for each county in the U.S.-- "a measure of opportunity at the community level."  Reduced to numbers, Virginia is ahead of the national average.   Sources are Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau, produced by Opportunity Nation & Social Science Research Council. One of the factors in scoring opportunity is education.  Here's what SSRC says about education:

Access to knowledge is a critical determinant of long-term well-being and is essential to individual freedom, self-determination, and self-sufficiency. Education is critical to people’s real freedom to decide what to do and who to be. Education builds confidence, confers status and dignity, and broadens the horizons of the possible—as well as allowing for the acquisition of skills and credentials. Globalization and technological change have made it extraordinarily difficult for poorly educated Americans to achieve the economic self-sufficiency, peace of mind, and self-respect enabled by a secure livelihood.
Access to knowledge is measured using two indicators: school enrollment for the population age 3 and older, and educational degree attainment for the population 25 years and older. A one-third weight is applied to the enrollment indicator and a two-thirds weight is applied to the degree attainment indicator. Both indicators are from the American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau.
It was not clear to me whether the GED credential is considered degree attainment, or if enrollment in ABE programs is considered "enrolled"  in this methodology.  While I agree 100% that knowledge is the key to long-term success, I question whether we should judge knowledge by degree attainment only.


  1. Good point, Susan. I also question their definition of access. While access to school is obviously essential, others like Bourdieu and Hilary Janks think access to audience is also important. Even if I have a degree, but talk "funny"' will I still be able to join the club? Will I be heard?

  2. The access paradox....give people access to the dominant language and we keep it (English) as the dominate language. And no, you won't be heard if you don't speak English well. You won't be able to join the club, at least not very easily. OK I googled this, Janks says "We need to reduce the power of education to deliver the recognition required for the maintenance of the language's symbolic power, particularly where this recognition is to the detriment of the languages that the students speak." Nice, as I sit here up to my eyeballs in APA editing so I can get a good grade and get my degree. Of course, I speak the "right" language. As an audience, we (native speaking) Americans can be a little more ESOL friendly. Sometimes I think we're educating the wrong people.


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this post. Diverse opinions are welcomed.