There Are No Hard to Serve Learners, Only Ill-Served Ones

New article published in Adult Literacy Education by Erik Jacobson.

Learners who face certain barriers (e.g., housing and food insecurity, economic vulnerability, limited levels of English and/or literacy) are often identified as being part of hard to serve populations, both in policy documents and in commentary in the field. However, it is unclear what the term actually means. These populations may face difficult barriers, but why do those barriers make them harder to serve than other students? Why are certain populations singled out in this way? What purpose does it serve to attach a pejorative label to them? What impact might it have on funding and access to resources? Moving to a systemic critique, rather than using a deficit model that places the blame on learners, helps keep the focus on how these learners are being failed.

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