Senate Passes Bill Expanding Access to Education for Adult Learners in New York

May 20, 2015

The New York State Senate today passed legislation that would expand the literacy and other educational opportunities available to adult learners in order to help them succeed. The bill (S2895), sponsored by Senator Hugh Farley (R-C, Schenectady), would enable public libraries to obtain additional state funds for their high school equivalency programs and employment training services that help adults get jobs.

Senator Farley said, “Libraries play an important role in their communities, providing a wide variety of services. Their programs and resources benefit recreational readers, students, business owners, and job seekers. Many programs help children learn how to read, and many libraries also provide programs to help adult learners. This bill would help expand the availability of high school equivalency and adult literacy programs by enabling libraries to obtain existing state funds for Employment Preparation Education programs.”

The Employment Preparation Education (EPE) program is currently only available to school districts and BOCES to provide educational services to individuals 21 years or older who have dropped out of high school and did not receive their degree, a GED, or a high school equivalency diploma. Libraries offer many of these same services, including English as a Second Language classes, job readiness workshops, and high school equivalency courses. By allowing public libraries to apply for and obtain EPE funds, this bill would help to reduce the stigma attached to adult learners and facilitate their employment opportunities by enabling them to attain critical skills in a setting other than a school. 

The bill has been sent to the Assembly.