ICYMI: DC Charter School Alliance Hosts Discussion on DC Adult Charter Schools’ Role in Creating a Resilient Workforce

Jun 11, 2021

Washington, D.C. – The DC Charter School Alliance, an advocacy organization that supports and represents the robust charter school sector in our nation’s capital, held a virtual discussion moderated by At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman illuminating how the region’s employers collaborate with DC adult charter schools to develop a strong, knowledge-based workforce and the opportunities that the current economic environment offers for students, employers, and the education sector.

The discussion featured experts and hiring specialists discussing adult education, the District’s economic recovery, and how we can maximize our adult education resources to help families earn higher wages all while building a stronger, more resilient economy.

You can watch a full recording of the discussion here, or read excerpts below.

“COVID-19 highlighted some of the stark inequities in our city, inequities that our charter school adult educators are trying to address and close the gap,” said At-Large Councilmember Elissa Silverman. “Adult charter schools play a critical role in our city, not just by educating our adult learners, but also putting our aspiring workers on a career path. It helps close our equity gap because many of the students in our adult charter schools are Black and Latino residents.”

“What’s special about adult education, especially in DC, is the comprehensiveness of services provided, the unique populations served, and the heavy focus on occupational preparation in high demand industries like hospitality and healthcare,” said Dr. Stephanie Cronen, Managing Research Scientist, American Institutes for Research. “Adult education programs like DC’s charter schools can provide coordinated wrap-around services to support program participation, and a combination of instruction for both foundational skills development, like literacy or English acquisition, and preparation for occupations together.”

“The DC system is being looked at as the way we should be thinking about adult education,“ said Dr. Johan Uvin, President of the Institute for Educational Leadership and Board Member of Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School. “The key element is the adequacy of resources. When you get better funding, you get better outcomes. That is clear looking across the adult public charter system in the District.”

“There’s a long history of adult charter schools in DC, and that’s really important,” said Dr. Terry Salinger, Chief Scientist for Literacy Research, American Institutes for Research. “For example, Carlos Rosario International PCS had a strong model and reputation among immigrant communities and educators in the city […] Here was a successful school that transitioned to charter status, and other schools saw this working. And within the overall model in DC of adult charter schools, schools experimented to develop their own models to meet the needs of their student populations.”

“Some people know that they want to go into nursing, but they may not have a diploma or GED, English may be their second language, so they need to acquire those things first,” said Janiece Jones, HR Generalist, MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “That’s one of the avenues they can take with an adult training education program like Carlos Rosario. They can get those basics covered and taken care of and go into other programs like CNA programs so they can acquire the skills they need to move forward.”

“There’s a demand for education in DC that is very high, a significant portion of that education comes from other locations […] Not enough is being done to recruit and train and utilize DC residents for some of these positions,” said Dr. Nicole Smith, Research Professor and Chief Economist at Georgetown University’s Center for Education and the Workforce. “I’m hoping the city can adopt more policies that focus on adult education to ensure that we can help more DC adult residents transition into those opportunities.”

The DC Charter School Alliance co-hosted the event with Academy of Hope Adult Public Charter School, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, Community College Preparatory Academy, DC Chamber of Commerce, DC Public Charter School Board, The Family Place, Federal City Council, Goodwill Excel Center, Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Hire Local DC.