Introductory Stories
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Everyday Lives

Given the importance placed on participantsí perspectives throughout this study, much of this report consists of excerpts taken directly from interview transcripts.  While the individuals represented in this section are composite characters, their stories reflect the everyday experiences of the individuals we interviewed and, we believe, are representative of many undereducated individuals across the state.

Tom Henson
"Iím a jack of all trades.  I can pour concrete, I can lay block, I can do yard work, or I can take down trees."
LeAnn Jacobs
"I mean, itís good goiní to school and everything, but you really donít have to have a high school education to be smart.  You really donít.  You have to want to work."
Ray Garcia
"I think that Iím a pretty smart guy, but itís just that little piece of paper that holds me back."
Maria Gonzales
"I want to be able to speak English with my daughters and sons."
Darlene Wilson
"I wouldnít be able to spend no time with the family after I get off work and then go to them classes, you know."
Clara Wilson
"It would help if we could get a program in just for adults.  You get with a bunch younger than you are and they go on and pass, [and] you feel like a total fool."
Donald Porter
"I ainít even worked in over a year now.  I put my application in quite a few places and nobody wants to talk to me."

As these stories demonstrate, everyday challenges and opportunities provide a complex climate for educational decision-making.  Our research analysis indicates that commonly held assumptions regarding adult education influence how these challenges and opportunities are interpreted.  The following sections will explore the themes illustrated by the above stories and further demonstrate the multiple perspectives under-educated adults hold toward educational opportunities and credentials.  In addition to the major themes of age, gender, and local economic context, we will also discuss the complicating issues of poverty, learning problems, health, ESL, and family concerns.  Following this discussion, we will return to these assumptions regarding under-educated adults and further explore how adult education is perceived in these local settings, what programmatic issues this raises, and how these findings might be applied to future policy initiatives.

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Last modified: April 16, 2000