History of Adult Education in Maine
19th Century – Industrial Revolution – post Civil War Maine
1871 – Maine passed legislation for free education in industrial and mechanical drawing
for persons over 15 – day or evening
1889 – legislation allowed cities and towns to raise money for the support of evening
schools under the direction of the local school board to teach the “elementary” branches.
Early 20th Century
1908 – blossoming of vocational education as a movement
World War I – concerns arose about illiteracy at the time of the draft
Immigration – need for English language and citizenship classes
Depression Era – a disaster for adult education
Programs seen as a frill
Adults too concerned about finding any work to consider schooling
Post-World War II – GED established; pre-empted the adult diploma programs
Post-War – some resurgence of local programs primarily in larger communities in Maine.
1950’s – Low point for adult education in Maine
Legislative subsidy cut
State Department separates Adult Education from Vocational Education
Lack of full-time leadership at state level
Local efforts, part-time and fragmented.
1960’s – Great Society and War on Poverty
1964 – First Adult Basic Education Funding available to states
John Moran and Richard Adams hired as full-time adult education consultants at MDOE
Tremendous growth of local programs; ABE funds led to establishment of programs, fulltime director positions.
Development of a state plan
Emphasis on staff development
1965 – State Adult Education Association established (MAEA/MAPSAE/MAEA)
Model Cities funds for urban learning center in Portland
1970’s – early 1980’s Growth Era
Vocational Education emphasized; adult education back to Bureau of Voc. Ed.
Community Education grants from Mott Foundation
Major Staff Development Emphasis
USM’s Adult Education Masters Program
Staff Development Office (later CALL) established at USM, later moved to UMO
LD #231 expands eligible state subsidy categories of adult education
Strong Leadership from Department of Education and MAPSAE(later MAEA)
Effective Program Review Process designed to foster program growth, often followed by
incentive grants from MDOE.
Late1980’s – Era of More with Less
GED Emphasis; more marketing, fees eliminated
Literacy Emphasis – Quality Indicators, Standards Movement
State Association becomes more independent of the MDOE
Robert Howe becomes MAEA lobbyist (1988-present)
Serious state funding problems – regular prorations in state funding
Reduction of MDOE personnel
Programs seek increased local and grant funding
Subsidy for community education courses eliminated; become fee-based
1990’s – New Opportunities
Family Literacy Grant Programs (Even Start and Bush Foundation)
Discretionary Perkins Funds become available to adult education
University System ITV sites located at adult education programs
Technology hits in a big way; administration & instruction
Service to Maine’s many dislocated manufacturing workers
Workforce Literacy – classes at worksites
Federal grants received for Corrections Education, Equipped for the Future and Reading Excellence Act
MAEA addresses more formal approach to organizational structure and financial stability
21st Century – Recognition of Adult Education as a Resource for Maine
2001 – Maine legislature tried to address funding issues with successive 6% increases
MAEA hires Executive Director
2002 – State funding shortfall
Data released identifying key demographic issues; an aging and under-educated
College Transition Blossoms
Access with Success White-paper issued by MAEA
Mae Foundation Grants
English for Speakers of Other Languages becomes an increasing need
More than 90% of Maine’s adult education programs join MAEA
2003 – Signing of Collaborative Agreement between MAEA and MTCS
2004 – Maine Compact for Higher Education identifies Adult Education College Transition as a key strategy for increasing the number of Maine people with college degrees. Betterment Fund grants for College Transition professional development.
2005 – MELMAC adds adult education to its grant focus
Even Start suffers substantial cuts at federal level
2006 – $200,000 in state funding launches the pilot sites for college transition
Perkins Act reauthorized resulting in major loss of funding for adult education
MAEA hosts COABE regional institute
2007 – Governor Baldacci proposed full-funding of the Compact’s College Transition. By April, revenue forecasts reduced this by 1/3, and funding is at $745,000 per year.
Adult Education Statutes revised and pass in legislature.
2008 – Continued struggle with state funding due to revenue forecasts. The contract with the University of Maine for the Center for Adult Learning and Literacy is discontinued following a budget cut at state level. Jeff Fantine of Ohio joins the Maine Dept. of Education as State Director of Adult Education. MAEA receives Nellie Mae grant for Advocacy training
2009 – The Maine Adult Education Web Portal is launched with support from Nellie Mae and Betterment Foundations and the Bangor Daily News. Adult Education program enrollments boomed in response to severe economic crisis. Portal receives TechMaine award in May, 2009. Maine College Transitions is honored as an award winner at the FAME Maine annual dinner in the fall.
2010 – The Association works continuously on funding issues on all levels while experiencing record enrollments. Emphasis underway to implement performance based state and federal funding and improved reporting for programs. Portal received a national award for Best Web Site from LERN.
2014 – The HiSet test replaces the GED as the High School Equivalency Test for Maine.
2018 – Adult Education programs join Hubs in a structure established by the Maine Department of Education. Programs must apply for state and federal grants as Hub groups, not single programs.
Notes prepared by C. Newell from A History of Adult Education in Maine (Wright/Rice) and An Historical Perspective on Public School Adult Education 1976-1994 (Macdonald).