On October 15, 2001, RI's congressional delegation met with adult learners and educators to discuss the state of adult education in Rhode Island. Two learners, Debra Jones and Luis Vargas, share here their statements to that delegation.

Debra Jones statement

Good morning! My name is Debra Jones and I am a student at Dorcas Place. Last September, I started in a new reading program. I had always been a slow reader. Now I can catch on faster and understand sounds. I can break words down into syllables and I am reading much better. Even my math skills are better. When I left school, I only knew up to division, and I forgot that. Now I can do division, including long division, and decimals and fractions. Soon I will begin working on percents. I never thought that I would ever get this far.
I have always loved being around people. Now I do not feel shamed because I can do things like play Monopoly with my friends and family. I have much more confidence in everything I do.
After I quit school I had lots of different jobs, but they did not require any reading, After my daughters were born, I realized I wanted to go back to school to better my life and theirs. I wanted to help them with their school work and I wanted a better job. Right now, my oldest daughter has one more year of high school and I have to start thinking about helping her go to college. I need a good-paying job to do this. Dorcas Place took the clouds away and put the sunshine over my head! I know I still have more to learn, but I am on my way.

Luis Vargas statement

First of all I want to say thank you for inviting me here. Please let me introduce myself. My name is Luis Vargas. I came to the United States in 1986 without knowing one word in English. I was born un Guatemala, and I came to the United States looking for a better life. I have been working at Texas Instruments for about thirteen and a half years. I hid in the company for all these years without tell anyone my problem -- about me not knowing how to read and write English. My speech was okay. I guessed that was enough to fool anyone in everyday life. The company that I work for has given me confidence and trust because they taught me how to operate every piece of equipment in my department.
I thought that was enough!
Well, until one day my children started to make me realize that school was important.
My son was asking me to read for him and I used to tell him that I had no time instead of me telling him the truth. My step daughter fooled me with her report card from school. All this made me realize that I needed to go to school myself.
Let me tell you what a difference it made in my life.
I have been attending classes at Project LEARN for one and a half years and when I first came in, my reading comprehension was at level 4. I have just now been tested at a level 6 in reading comprehension.
My writing is getting much better too. There are a lot of people who want to learn how to read and write English. These people have fallen into the cracks in the school system a long time ago. They are coming out and they want to learn. But we need help. We need your help and that is money for literacy programs.
Please vote for increased funding to keep literacy programs going!!
Thank you very much.

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