Spokane-based Educational Service District 101 will use $10 million from the federal government to fight adult illiteracy around the country.
The money, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education over a five-year period, will go toward the design and production of courses that will be beamed via satellite from Spokane to eight states.
ESD 101 is a state-supported provider of education courses, many of them transmitted from Spokane. It also received $10 million in 1990 from the Department of Education for satellite programs.
This time, the $10 million will be used to create adult-level satellite programs, a reflection of heightened government efforts to reach under-educated adults.
“No one has really done adult literacy via satellite before,” said ESD 101 spokesman Steve Witter. “We’ll be blazing the trail.”
While many of the courses beamed around the country now reach rural schools, the more likely target of of the new courses will be urban adults.
Congress has defined adult literary as one of its key education goals of the decade. There is growing evidence that “distance education” - using computers, satellites and realtime links between teachers and students - can produce solid educational gains.
The specific areas of adult literacy to be addressed are still uncertain, ESD 101 officials said.
For some students, it might be basic skills in reading and writing. For others, the focus may be on enhanced job training and gaining information-technology skills.
Along with the $10 million grant, ESD 101 has received a renewal of an earlier $1 million award from the Education Department.
That money will continue production of televised education programs. This past year, the district beamed dozens of courses to 500 schools in 21 states, from Indiana to Alaska.