Call your U.S. Senator — Don’t Cut Unemployment Benefits for People Who Lack a High School Diploma or GED

Dear Advocate,


Thanks to all who were able to make last minute House calls yesterday afternoon on H.R. 3630. The House passed the bill last night, 234-193. The bill now moves to the Senate, where there it is unlikely to be approved. Nonetheless, we need to make sure Senators know that adult education has limited capacity to absorb the increase in demand that this requirement would create without increased investments in adult education. Thanks to you, the problems with the high school diploma equivalency requirement has gained a higher profile. Keep up the great work!


For those who missed yesterday’s alert, the House Republicans unveiled a proposal  (H.R. 3630) to dramatically scale back federal unemployment insurance. It included language that would deny unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who do not have a HS diploma or GED unless they are enrolled and making satisfactory progress in classes leading to one.


While we are pleased to see any policy that recognizes the importance of adult literacy and strives to increase access to adult education and family literacy programs in order to improve our nation’s adult literacy rate, HR 3630 will not increase access. Instead, it creates a much greater demand without the significant resources needed to meet it. Not only is this unjust since undereducated adults contribute to the economy, as do their higher educated counterparts; but it is also an unfunded mandate since the adult education system is already experiencing difficulties meeting current needs.



  1. Call your U.S. Senators. (Take action through NCL’s Facebook page for greater impact.)
  2. Ask: Do not include the high school equivalency requirement in the Senate version of HR 3630.
  3. Use any of the suggested talking points below and speak from your experience. Share local waiting list data, if applicable.

Deadline: 5 pm Eastern Tomorrow (Thurs 12/15)!


Sample Talking Points:

  • While      I am pleased to see any policy that recognizes the importance of adult      literacy and strives to increase access to adult education and family      literacy programs, HR 3630 does not increase access; it only creates a      much greater demand without providing the resources needed.
  •  Unemployment      insurance eligibility is supposed to be driven solely by loss of      employment and employer payments into the applicable unemployment      insurance trust funds on behalf of their employees—and not based      on income level, educational attainment, or other characteristics of the      unemployed worker.
  •  Adults      with less than a high school diploma make up the largest share of the      unemployed and are the most likely to fall into extreme poverty      without continued unemployment assistance. The share of unemployed      workers with less than a high school diploma is 13.2%, more than      three times the rate of workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher.       (Source)     
  • This      new requirement fails to take into account that the capacity of the      federal and state adult education system is already desperately      underfunded. Without significant additional funding, it would need to      place individuals who would need to enroll in adult education in order to      remain eligible for UI on waiting lists for classes. The system is      currently only able to serve 2.1 million adults out of the 30 million      people in the U.S. with low basic skills. Nearly every state has a      waiting list for services and the number of adults on waiting lists      has been increasing. (Source)
  • The      additional number needing services as a result of this policy in one      quarter alone would outnumber those on the waiting lists reported by state      and local programs.  This would likely lead to a denial of benefits      when the adult is unable to access adult education classes. (Source)
  • This      bill would require adults to enroll in a class even though many adults      study for the GED on their own. Others seek one-on-one tutoring programs      and/ or distance education. It is unclear whether these will be considered      “classes” under this bill.
  •  Even for those enrolled in classes that would qualify      under this bill, it is not clear what is meant by “satisfactory      progress,” or how it is to be demonstrated, especially for those      who are newly enrolled. This may require a new system to track, test,      document, and report progress of those who need to take classes      specifically to maintain their unemployment insurance.

Let the National Coalition for Literacy know what you learn when you  make your contact by emailing your feedback to .Thanks for all you do to support the needs of undereducated adults in our country!

NCL’s Advocacy Team


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