For many people, the term adult education is synonymous with continuing education or lifelong learning; that is, the classes grown ups take for fun (many years after the sting of mandatory education finally softens). Speak German in Drei Easy Steps. Digital Photography for Beginners. Dance, art, finance, welding, the topics are endless.

While lifelong learning classes tend to be informal — not tethered to homework, tests, or credits — continuing education classes can involve job training and industry certification. Not surprisingly, night school is yet another close cousin in the adult education family.

But there is another kind of learning for adults which enables individuals to powerfully improve their lives forever.

Adult Education is a lot more than just a bunch of adults taking classes.

According to the US Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, adult education:

…helps adults get the basic skills they need including reading, writing, math, English language proficiency, and problem-solving to be productive workers, family members, and citizens

Typically, adult education students are either underemployed or undereducated, or both.
Underemployment can imply too few full-time jobs, as well as when skilled and licensed individuals are employed in low-skill and low-wage jobs.
Undereducated adults lack a high school diploma (or its equivalency such as a GED), lack basic literacy or numeracy skills, or speak English less than very well.
There are adult education programs in all 50 states. (Consult the National Literacy Directory or Literacy Information and Communication System to locate an adult education program nearby.) However, no single program is like another. Each offers a sort of salmagundi of classes and a pottage of administrative styles.
The Durango Adult Education Center is an independent nonprofit organization with a long track record of excellence. It serves adult learners, ages 16 and older, in both daytime and evening classes at its center in downtown Durango. At the nearby La Plata County Jail, the Durango Adult Education Center teaches twice-weekly daytime classes.

The Durango Adult Education Center has three primary programs.

These are:

  1. English as a Second Language (ESL)

    The ESL program teaches English writing, reading, and speaking, plus provides individualized tutoring for citizenship preparation.

  2. Adult basic literacy and high school equivalency diploma (HSE)

    The HSE program provides foundational Math and Reading skills instruction for learners with abilities up to eighth grade. It provides accelerated Math, Reading/Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies instruction at the secondary level. Onsite GED and HiSET testing is available for learners to attain a secondary school diploma.

  3. Career transitions (BOOST)

    BOOST helps adult learners complete their education, learn money management skills, plan for careers, and assist with the college application process. Financial assistance is provided for nearby student housing, childcare, post-secondary scholarships, foreign degree translation, transportation, and more.

Classes are grouped according to ability level. Instruction is provided by experienced, credentialed teachers in a welcoming, caring environment.

The Durango Adult Education Center Provides Wraparound Services

To help students succeed, onsite child care is provided while parents are in class, daily hot meals and snacks are served so hunger isn’t a distraction. One-on-one tutoring is available for those needing extra study time or who aren’t able to make it to the scheduled classes. These are just a few of the services available to help learners finish their education.


Cost of Adult Education Classes Varies By Program

Some programs charge the full price for adult services. Others charge nothing. Some adult education programs are sponsored by employers and others by churches.
Nearly all of the students served at the DAEC are low-income and face multiple barriers on their path to a complete education. The cost of the classes is paid with grants and donations to keep adult education affordable and accessible to all. Additionally, the Center provides scholarships for GED and HiSET test fees and supplies each graduate with official high school equivalency transcripts at no charge.
Many national and global agencies including the the U.S. Department of Education and UNESCO pay close attention to adult education through outreach, monitoring, and research. They know that if left unfilled, educational gaps disrupt societal balances of power spanning income equality, healthcare, and gender rights. For its part, the DAEC is committed to helping individuals attain meaningful careers and lead more fulfilling lives.