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Workforce Training Programs Should Consider Equity, Acting Ed. Secretary Says



States, communities, school districts, non-profits, and the federal government need to make sure equity is the watchword for implementation of the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (aka that other big education law Congress was able to push over the finish line in recent years).

That was the message John B. King Jr., the acting U.S. Secretary of Education, delivered Tuesday to the Workforce Opportunity and Investment Act national convening, a conference of 700 state leaders and other organizations working to implement the new law.

King is hoping that job training facilities, community colleges, and adult-education providers will think about the needs of English-language learners, minority students, low-income students, students with disabilities parents, and other "nontraditional" students as they implement WIOA, which generally governors job training programs.

The landscape for postsecondary education has shifted in recent years, King said.

"The nontraditional has become the traditional," said King. "The defining postsecondary student is the student who needs support beyond just enrollment in that post-secondary opportunity."

He urged job training programs, post-secondary institutions, and other adult education providers to think about potential barriers students might face in completing their training or degree, such as lack of access to child care or transportation.

And he encouraged them to think carefully about teacher development. For instance, programs may need to ensure that they have bilingual staff and have trainers who understand the needs of adults who may be juggling other jobs and families.

If King's message on WOIA sounds familiar, that's because it's pretty similar to his messaging on the Every Student Succeeds Act, the latest iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which also puts a heavy emphasis on equity. 

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