Pat Thomas provided testimony
on March 16 before the Senate Committee hearing our bill
to increase ABE revenue. The committee did pass a
recommendation following testimony to include this request in a
letter to the Finance Committee.
Mister Chair and Senators
My name is Pat Thomas and I am a lead coordinator of the
Southwest ABE covering 18 counties and 53 School districts in
I would like to thank you for opportunity speak with you today
and thank you for the investment you have made in ABE programs
that prepare adults to enter our workforce.
In 2004-05 our State ABE programs served 80,452 learners.
Primarily all these adults used these services to gain greater
Our program in Southwest Minnesota served 2,312 adults last year
in a response to the economic needs of our area. 59% of
our learners used ESL services. Our refugee and immigrant
population comprise the majority of the process plant’s
Workforce. These populations are an extremely resilient and
hard working example of a people seeking to make a better life
for their families.
Other Services we provided which reflects ABE services statewide
► GED classes
► Basic Skill Enhancement in both Reading and Math
► Computer Skills…many persons use this service to become
familiar with the “machine” in order to obtain a job in today’s
► Workplace Based Classes: ESL services delivered on site at
processing plants and at Schwan’s plant.
► Previously we provided a Family Literacy program but funding
reductions forced us to close this program.
I would suggest to this committee that you receive an awesome
Bang for your Buck through these services. You see not just
literacy skill enhancement happens. You see ESL instructors
helping students make doctor appointments, helping fill out
forms, helping with bank questions, helping parents connect with
their child’s school….or the ABE agency helps these adults by
referring them to other resources who can assist in these
You see GED instructors helping GED students connect with
colleges as most have little or no family support to pursue any
further education. As I said money invested in ABE gives quite
a bang for its buck.
I would like to highlight the need to consider the importance of
investing financially in ABE programs…..
Not only through this service does an individual gain skills to
succeed in today’s world
ABE is one of the key players in providing a viable workforce to
allow for our state’s Economic growth.
There looms in the near future a workforce shortage statewide.
Matt Kramer, the Commissioner of MN DEED, has shared this fact
many times. This shortage of a viable employee pool is already
begun in southwest and south central Minnesota. The Marshall
area is already at around only a 2% unemployment figure.
(Reference paper supporting this shortage created by MN DEED
I would also share with you not only do we need more prepared
persons to enter our workforce, but also many of our current
workforce need to raise their literacy and math skills to allow
businesses to compete in our world markets today.
I would encourage you to provide your support for a 3% increase
in the ABE formula and an additional $3 million over 2 years for
intensive ESL services for recent refugees.
With these additional funds ABE has a greater ability to help
prepare our workforce for the demands made by businesses for
competent workers….The end result being economic growth
Thank you for your time.
Provided by Barry Shaffer
Last week the Literacy
Minnesota ABE bill was heard in the Minnesota Senate Early
Childhood Committee. Several individuals testified in
support of the bill.
The speech given by Ms. Meda
Paradise, an adult diploma graduate of the Hubbs Center in
St. Paul, was amazingly powerful. Her presentation in front
of a formal Senate committee, with a room full of onlookers,
was delivered in a trembling voice, with pauses to gain her
composure – yet her words were clear and vivid as she
described her personal struggle to become a “new American”.
I am hoping you can take a minute to read her message to
the Senate and to us all – well beyond its intent of
supporting the Adult Basic Education program, her speech is
a lesson in humility and a reminder that most of us, only a
few generations ago, had ancestors that took a similar,
difficult path to come to America.
Click here to read this testimony
(PDF 57 KB)