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Locating Adult Literacy Programs In Regular Schools and Adult Education Centers: What the Learners Have to Say (page 3)
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Research Findings

For most of the learners who were interviewed, the independent status of their learning facilities was too important to approve moving the programs into regular schools or adult education centers. Several learners also expressed concern over the potential for their programs' warm interpersonal atmosphere to be adversely affected by moving into institutionalized facilities. There was no clear pattern of preference for learners of different ages, skill levels, or vocational aspirations.

Adult Education Centers
Fifteen learners liked the idea of moving their literacy programs into adult education centers. Ken thought that it would be more convenient for students if more adult education programs were in the same facility. Patrick and Amy speculated that the different programs could share instructional resources. Amy noted that other adult education students were already coming for extra tutoring in their courses, and that it would be much more convenient to provide this service if all of the adult education programs were in the same building. Leanne and April saw potential for mixing-and-matching literacy and community college courses.

The eleven remaining learners totally rejected the idea. They feared that a larger institutional setting would spoil the literacy programs' informal and highly interpersonal climate. Barbara explained, "It would take something away from the way people feel about each other and the program." She anticipated that computer students such as herself would end up separated into a room full of "white noise," instead of being included "in with everyone else." Raymond, who complained that he "hated the crowds" in high school, predicted an increase in student numbers. Mike dreaded losing "that sense of home" and becoming "just another classroom." Arnold and Britanny thought that the commotion created by other programs would distract the literacy students. Harvey feared that the students in higher level programs "would sneer and laugh and say, 'Look where he's starting out.'" Even Phoebe, who acknowledged the financial advantages that would accrue from sharing the costs of a larger facility, concluded, "It would be better left as it is now."

Regular Schools
Four learners responded that they would attend literacy programs housed in regular school classrooms. Julia explained that she felt more confident now and was not worried about what younger students in the regular school would think of her. Gavin admitted, "I might be shy for a couple of days," but he added that so long as there was public bus service to the building, "it wouldn't bother me a bit." Two learners had mixed feelings about moving their literacy programs into regular schools. Patricia saw advantages in sharing expenses and a larger parking lot, but she still insisted, "It would bother me. That's why I quit school, years ago." Alanna reported that she would feel comfortable, but she understood that "other people might not, like younger people. It would be too close to where they came from."

The remaining twenty learners strenuously opposed the notion. They spoke of the negative effects that a regular school could have on the programs' instructional practices and on the students' self-concepts. Dean, who worked full-time, worried that his program would have to adopt the regular school's attendance rules. Earl anticipated that "it might change the literacy instructors" if the two sets of teachers spent too much time together. Other learners feared how younger students would react to them as adults. Arnold exclaimed, "Kids are cruel! If they know you have a learning problem, they look down on you, and they make remarks." Alex admitted, "I would feel way out of place," and Christine insisted, "It wouldn't be a good idea to have teenagers and adults together in a school."


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