Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Update on Berkeley Adult School

The long term fate of Berkeley Adult School, whether or not it will remain in place, share space with a new Elementary School or REALM Charter School, move to a new location, or be decentralized into several different locations, remains uncertain.   For back story on this situation, go here.

At the Feb 24th, Wednesday meeting of the BUSD School Board, there are two agenda items that may relate to this situation:

Enrollment/Capacity Update and Potential Action (Action Item #1)

Facilities Plan Update (Information Item #1).

Public input is welcome, wanted, and needed at this meeting.

Remember:  While we in the United States have created a system where public education is to tied to property taxes, public education belongs to the public - because all of us depend on its outcome - not just those who own property.  That is why Governor Brown asked the public to vote for Prop 30, a special tax just for education, and why all of us are paying that tax, whether or not we own property, have children, attend school, or plan to attend school in the future.

The children or adults who could one day discover solutions to economic, medical and Climate Change challenges, may or may not be property owners or the children of property owners.  We need everyone to be educated, able to contribute their gifts to the greatest degree possible, able to communicate with others in English, and healthy, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

More than ever, our future depends on the wellness of the whole.

More info on the BUSD Board Meeting:

All Regular Business Meetings convene at approximately 7:30 PM, unless otherwise noted.
All Study Sessions convene at 6:30 PM.
Location: All Regular Business Meetings and Study Sessions of the School Board are held in the Board Room at 1231 Addison St., unless otherwise noted on the meeting agenda.
Parking: Ample parking is available in the large lot on Browning St. just beyond where Addison and Browning Streets intersect.
Berkeley School Board Meetings are televised on local cable channel 33!
You can view them live on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. on meeting nights, or when the meeting is rebroadcast the following Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m. All televised board meetings are available on Vimeo.com by Board Item, and can be easily accessed in the Board Updates posted on the far right column below.
Meetings agendas are available on the Friday before the meeting. Just bookmark this page so that you can keep informed about items to be discussed as well as special School Board presentations and discussions.

Board Meeting Information

Upcoming Meetings:
  • February 25 (includes additional spec mtg)

Spring 2015 Legislative Events Addressing Adult Education

Your participation is the needed piece
This Spring, there are several important committee meetings in Sacramento affecting Adult Education and Adult Schools.  The public is welcome at all these meetings and there is always a time for public comment at the end.  You do not need to make a reservation to attend.  Simply show up.  Getting there early assures you a seat.  You can also often listen to the hearings live and/or listen - or even watch - them later as most of them are recorded
This provides quite a bit of transparency, accountability, and opportunity for input - if we, the people, make use of it.
Here  are the dates and times of the hearings - along with a few notes:
March 11:  Joint Hearing by Assembly Higher Education and Senate Education.  The AB86 group will present their report at this hearing.  AM Jose Medina, Chair of the Assembly Higher Ed Committee, is a former Adult Ed ESL teacher.  Senator Carol Liu is the Chair of Senate Education Committee. and the author of SB173.   (To read about the Oversight Hearing on Adult Education by these same committees, go here.)
March 24th:  The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education will meet about Adult Education and Career Technical Education.   9:00 AM in Room 444.   This is the same day as CCAE Leg Day.  Committee Member AM Rocky Chavez, at the January 29th Oversight Hearing on Adult Education, spoke insightfully about the need to move carefully and not ask Public Ed to make too many changes too fast in too many areas.
April 7th:  The Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education will meet at 9:30 AM in room 3191.  Chair Marty Block has a background in education and law.

Be sure to check this post to see what else is happening in the world of Adult Ed this Spring.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Adult Ed Spring Events 2015

It's Spring - and that means conferences and conventions and legislative hearings and meetings and lots of talk about budget leading up to July 1st, 2015, the start of a new fiscal year and a new era for Adult Education in California.

Each event has its own focus. 

Every event is a chance to connect with and learn from others. 

Here's what's happening in the world of Adult Ed Spring 2015 along with my notes about how the event connects with advocacy for Adult Ed.

1.  CCAE Bay Section Conference February 28 in Berkeley, Northern California.   State Senator Loni Hancock and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates will speak.  There will be a variety of valuable workshops, including a SMAS presentation on The Power of Student Leadership.  The Conference will be held at Berkeley Adult School which  recently faced the possibility of being uprooted or decentralized.  This brings home the truth we are still in the process of stabilizing Adult Schools and Adult Education.  Until the new funding model is decided, secure, and in place, the back door to every Adult School is open to trouble.  A large group of SMASrs, including myself, will be attending this conference.

2. San Diego Regional CATESOL Conference March 7   The primary focus of CATESOL is teaching English as a Second Language.    "Kate Kinsella, EdD, a teacher educator at San Francisco State University, will be the featured speaker. Dr. Kinsella is a national leader in the field of academic language and literacy whose 25-year teaching career focus has been equipping youths from diverse backgrounds with the communication, reading, and writing skills to be career and college ready."  We can guess that the keynote speaker was chosen at least in part because CCR - college and career ready - are the new watch words in Public Education, including Adult Education.

3.   March 11:  Joint Hearing by Assembly Higher Education and Senate Education Committees.  The AB86 Group will present their report about Adult Education and the new Regional Consortia system at this hearing.

4. OTAN Technology and Distance Learning Symposium March 13-14 in San Leandro, Northern California.  Many of the tech skills I use for advocacy I learned through OTAN.  It's important that every Adult Ed teacher know tech skills - and how to teach them - because tech skills are a big key to success for Adult Learners.  Tech skills are also a powerful means to advocate for Adult Ed and to empower others to do so.

5.  CFT Convention March 20-22 in Manhattan Beach, Southern California.  CFT - California Federation of Teachers - represents a variety of teachers (University, Community College, K12, Adult School, Pre-school, Charter, etc.) along with classified staff and school nurses. Several resolutions regarding Adult Education will go to the floor for a vote at the Convention.

6.  Adult Education Week March 23 - 27  Need ideas for what your school can do for Adult Ed Week?  Check out these and these and these and these.

7.  CCAE Leg Day March 24  Not only administrators and teachers but students will visit Legislators and their staffers on this day.  CCAE is the only organization which includes admin, teachers, students, and community members.  Here is Former SMAS ESL Student Council President Marco's report on Leg Day 2014.  Student participation in Leg Day creates a ripple effect of positivity in Sacramento and in your local school community.

8.  The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education will meet about Adult Education and Career Technical Education on March 24th at 9:00 AM in Room 444.

9.  The Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education will meet on April 7th at 9:30 AM in room 3191.

10.  CFT Lobby Days April 20 - 21   CFT provides good education and support at their Lobby Days event.  Members visit legislators in diverse groups to talk to legislators or their staffers about various concerns.  I attended this event last year and it was very worthwhile.

11.  Network for Public Education Conference April 25 - April 26 in Chicago, Illinois

This is the 2nd National Conference put on by NPE.  The theme this year is "Public Education:  Our Kids, Our Schools, Our Communities."  Speakers will include
* Jitu Brown, National Director – Journey for Justice, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Network for Public Education Board of Directors
* Tanaisa Brown, High School Senior, with the Newark Student Union
* Yong Zhao, Author, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?
* Diane Ravitch in conversation with Lily Eskelsen Garcia, NEA President and Randi Weingarten, AFT President
* Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union
NPE has connected advocates for Public Education nationally and catalyzed an examination of Public Ed Reform and where it's leading us. It has yet to address the missing puzzle piece of Adult Education.  Possibly, it may this year.  I attended the NPE Conference in Austin, Texas last year.  It was sobering, inspiring, and educational.  I hope that more Adult Ed folks will attend this year.

12.   Los Angeles Regional CATESOL Conference April 25

13.  CCAE State Conference  April 30 - May 2 in Universal City, Southern California.  "Mission Possible:  Adult Education, Agent for Change" is the theme of this year's conference.  There will be many workshops on topics of all kinds. As the organization most focused on saving and stabilizing K12 Adult Schools, this conference will definitely address the challenges Adult Schools and Adult Education still face as we move into the new Regional Consortia system and a new funding structure.  Governor Brown's May Revise of the Budget will be coming out not long after this conference.  I attended and presented at the State CCAE Conference in 2013.  That conference was hugely helpful on many levels, including the fact it connected me with other advocates around the state.  I will attend this year's conference and recommend others do, too.

14.  Northern Regional CATESOL May 9 in Stockton, California.

15.  UTLA's Movement for the Schools LA Students Deserve.  UTLA is a hybrid union representing LAUSD teachers, including Adult School teachers.  UTLA members can belong to either or both CFT or CTA.  The UTLA Adult Education Committee is specifically focused on Adult Ed.  You can see UTLA and UTLA Adult Ed has a variety of events planned this spring.

16.  Mid-May:  Governor Brown's May Revise of the Budget.

If there is one thing we have learned these past six years, it is that there is great value in coming together.

And as great as technology is, there is nothing like face to face connection, including the unplanned, unanticipated connections made in a workshop, standing in line waiting for a name tag, or over dinner.

All these events are the chance for engaging in, contributing to, and benefiting from just that.

I encourage you to choose at least one and attend.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Perspective: Down by the Riverside, Repairing My Wheels

(This is a Perspective Piece.  In this case, mine... my personal perspective on current affairs.)

Monterey Coast 2009
This weekend, I've been thinking back on another Presidents Day Valentine's Day Combo Platter Weekend.

What's that on the horizon?
Way back in 2009.

I remember it like it was yesterday, not just because I had a great time in Monterey with my daughter and my folks...  but because I drove down there right after my boss called us together to tell us that in order to deal with the economic recession and keep K-12 schools going, Governor Schwartzenegger was "flexing" Adult Ed money.


The flexibility provided by the budget package is unprecedented. Local educational agencies (LEAs) will be able to redirect funding from 40 programs to “any educational purpose.” They will also be able to use restricted account balances from 2007–08 for any educational purpose.  Read more here.

I remember driving out to the motel to meet my parents.  Distracted by this news, I had spaced out. Now I found myself lost, in a marsh.  My daughter was asleep in the back seat.  Hmmm, I thought, this flex feels like bad news.  Real, real bad news.  Serious like cancer bad news.  Also, where the heck am I?

But when to my surprise, I accidentally found the motel, and greeted my parents and settled in, when I opened up my lap top and emailed my co-workers from the motel room, many didn't seem as upset as was.  It will all be okay, many said.  Things will be fine.  Really?, I thought, Am I crazy?  I don't feel like it will  I feel like we are in seriously deep, stinky and steep, deep, deep doo-doo - up to our eyeballs.

Hit the link to read more.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Two Don't Miss Webinars on the Adult Ed Budget

Two don't miss webinars on the Adult Ed Budget:

1.  Thursday, January 29th at 4 pm   CCAE webinar on the State Budget and Adult Ed.

"We will be hosting our third webinar this Thursday, January 29th at 4 p.m. in order to provide an update on the Governor's FY 15-16 Budget for adult education.   Our Legislative and Governmental Budget Advocate Dawn Koepke will be discussing the latest insights on the state budget discussions and next steps for action to protect K-12 Adult Schools. 
We look forward to speaking with you about the Governor's Budget proposal, our perspectives and key issues, and discussing our next steps to protect K12 adult schools.  Register today!"

Click here for a link to register and participate

2.  Friday, January 30th at 12 noon AB86 webinar on the State Budget and Adult Ed - with DOF! - the Department of Finance.

For this week's webinar on Friday, January 30th, the Department of Finance will be presenting on the budget for Adult Education and will be answering your questions.  The webinar is at 12:00PM to 100PM and it will be recorded and posted to ab86.cccco.edu Please visit us at ab86.cccco.edu or see below for directions on how to connect to the webinar.

How to Connect:
  • Dial your telephone conference line: (888) 886-3951
  • Cell phone users dial: 913-312-3202
  • Enter your passcode: 153705
  • Go to http://www.cccconfer.org/index3.aspx
  • Click the Participant Log In button under the Meet and Confer logo
  • Locate your meeting and click Go
  • Fill out the form and click Connect
February 9th Update:   You can listen to a recording of this AB86 Webinar here.

And just for kicks, check out this post to see how far we've come in a year:

Look Three Ways:  January 29, 2014 Hearing on Adult Ed

Friday, January 16, 2015

1/15/15 Update on Berkeley Adult School

An update about the situation at Berkeley Adult School from the Berkeley Adult School Facebook page.  (For the backstory on the situation, see this AEM post or this Berkeleyside article.)

Some of the more than 100 supporters of the
Berkeley Adult School at the board meeting.
Photo: Seung Y. Lee
The immense support, letter writing, social media/blog posting, phone calls and participation in various meetings from friends of BAS recently have been received by our Board and it is important that we continue to advocate for our programs, to organize to inform and have a presence at meetings, write letters, and invite Board members to visit. We are moved and grateful for the unified support of ...our school particularly from our staff. Local stakeholders have written letters, made phone calls and spoken at meetings. At Wednesday evening's Board meeting, Superintendent Evans said "We're not in a position to talk about long-term solutions." While the Superintendent's recommendation to re-purpose our site as an elementary school has been postponed, it remains one of two long term solutions, the other to build a new elementary school at the Oregon Street property. In mid-February, the Superintendent's staff will be looking at projected enrollment for Fall 2015 and determining which elementary schools need new modular classrooms as a temporary solution. If elementary enrollment continues to increase we may have to face the possibility that our advocacy turns to keeping us whole and finding a new location. 

Students and faculty from Berkeley Adult School
stand and hold signs in solidarity
 against relocation of the school at Wednesday’s board meeting.
Photo: Seung Y. Lee

 Adult Education is a tool for social justice and like other worthy causes, we need to always highlight the good work we do by informing our Board, District staff, and legislators, asking the press and public to come and write about who we serve and how we do it, attend and participate in school district meetings, engage our students to work with us and stay in the limelight. BAS staff will be focusing our attention on alternative solutions for our Board to consider other than spreading our classes through the district and the value of the investment in keeping us whole. 
There will be a town hall style meeting in mid-February regarding the future of BAS, please stay tuned for details and plan on attending if you can.

Thank you for your support.

"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Please see the AEM post, "All Out for Berkeley Adult School" for a full list of resources, contact info, media coverage, etc.  That post will be continuously updated.


Edsource: "Governor's Proposed Budget Called "A Gift" to Adult Education."

From Edsource:

Governor’s proposed budget called “a gift” to adult education

Liv Ames for EdSource
Marco Estrella, right, and Yu Liu practice English in an ESL class at San Mateo Adult School.
The governor’s proposed budget, unveiled last week, allocates $500 million for an Adult Education Block Grant, with a provision that existing K-12 adult ed programs be funded for another year.
The new funding allows more time for recently formed local consortia of adult schools, community colleges and other organizations that serve adults to determine what programs their communities need, how they will be funded and who is going to provide them.

K-12 adult schools have been fighting for survival since the recession, when school districts were allowed to use funding formerly dedicated for adult schools for any educational purpose. Many districts, trying to minimize cuts to their K-12 programs, took advantage of this new flexibility and eliminated or severely cut funding to their adult schools.

To stop the decimation of the state’s adult ed programs, the governor and legislators in the 2013-14 budget required districts that still had adult programs to maintain them for two years. If the governor’s current proposal is enacted, adult programs will have direct, dedicated state funding.
Debra Jones, dean of career education practices at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, calls what is outlined in the budget “a gift to adult students.”

“I never dreamed I would see dedicated funding for disenfranchised adults,” Jones said. “We’re celebrating. Overall, this is pretty special.”

Adult schools provide free or low-cost classes to Californians who are too old for K-12 schools but not academically prepared for community college, or who don’t qualify for skilled jobs. They serve immigrants, the unemployed, disabled adults, high-school dropouts and ex-offenders reentering society.
“I never dreamed I would see dedicated funding for disenfranchised adults,” said Debra Jones, dean of career education practices at the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. “We’re celebrating. Overall, this is pretty special.”
Without dedicated funding for the next year, adult school administrators and teachers were concerned that their schools would close as districts focused their funds on K-12 students. They were also worried that the newly formed consortia – 70 statewide – which have been meeting for about a year, were not yet ready to fully function.
Hessam Ghajar, a recent immigrant from Iran, practices English with classmates in a San Mateo Adult School class.
Liv Ames for EdSource
Hessam Ghajar, left, and Takeshi Naoi practice English with classmates in a San Mateo Adult School class.
“For the first time in decades, community colleges, county offices of education and school districts have been having meaningful conversations about what adult programs should look like,” said former Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, who was head of the Assembly Education Committee until the current legislative session began. “We need to build on the work that has been done and then have a thoughtful implementation process to really deliver an effective program.”

The Department of Finance does not know exactly how much of the $500 million will go to preserve current programs, though estimates by adult school providers put the figure at around $300 million. The remaining $200 million or so funds will be given to the consortia to be used for programs and support services, such as child care or career counseling. Only 5 percent can be used for administration.

One issue the consortia will have to grapple with is limited funding to meet the needs of adult learners throughout the state, Jones said. Before the recession, K-12 adult schools were getting $723 million in state funding, she said. In addition, many areas of the state, particularly rural counties, had never had K-12 adult ed programs. The 70 consortia now cover the entire state.
Jones said the Department of Finance made no promises regarding funding beyond the 2015-16 school year. But, she said, finance officials did say it probably would not be less than $500 million in the future.

In his budget, Gov. Brown states that state-funded adult education programs should include basic reading, writing, math, and other elementary and high school classes. They should also include citizenship and English as a second language classes, he said. In addition, adult ed should provide programs for adults with disabilities, apprenticeship programs and short-term, career-technical classes that provide skills in high demand, he said.

Former adult ed priorities under state law, such as older adult programs and parent education, will not receive direct state funding. Supporters have argued that parent education programs are key to involving parents in their children’s education. Under the Local Control Funding Formula, the new state funding system for schools, districts must meet eight priorities, one of which is parent involvement. Supporters of older adult programs say that as baby boomers retire, the need for programs to keep seniors active and mentally alert will grow.
Patricia Brown teaches English as a second language at San Mateo Adult School.
Liv Ames for EdSource
Patricia Brown teaches English as a second language at San Mateo Adult School.
The 2015-16 budget also lays out how the consortia are expected to work. The chancellor of the community colleges and the state superintendent of public instruction will jointly allocate funds among the 70 consortia. In an information session with Department of Finance officials, Jones was told the funds will be distributed based on existing programs, unmet need and performance. More funding is supposed to be channeled to the areas with the greatest needs, echoing the priorities under the Local Control Funding Formula, which gives districts more funds based on the percentages of English learners, low-income students and foster students they serve.

“As with the LCFF for children, allocating more money to areas where there is more need is an excellent idea that has the potential to promote an educational system that is more fair and provides students who stand at a disadvantage with more opportunities to succeed,” said Kristen Pursley, an adult ed teacher with West Contra Costa Adult Education, in a blog about the governor’s plan.
Each consortium will form an allocation committee consisting of seven members – one each from community colleges, K-12 districts, other adult education providers, local workforce investment boards, county social services departments, correctional rehabilitation programs and one public member with relevant expertise. These committees will develop education plans for their consortia and determine which programs will be funded.

Each year, the allocation committees will send a report to the chancellor and state superintendent describing how well they have met the goals in their plans.
Developing an entire new structure and working together to determine which organizations will provide various classes creates a lot of challenges, said Karen Arthur, an Oxnard Adult School teacher. “The allocation committees have a heck of a lot of power.”

Pursley said the proposal leaves a lot of questions unanswered, and its success will depend a lot on the committee members and how well they work together.

The consortia approach is likely to function better, educators say, if communities have worked well together in the past. San Mateo Adult School, for example, has had several years of experience collaborating with community partners through ALLIES, a coalition of community colleges, adult schools and community-based organizations in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Supported by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and with the help of a federal Workforce Innovation grant, the initiative began in 2011 to help the area’s immigrants get the education and support services they needed to find well-paid jobs and careers.

Tim Doyle, Assistant Director at San Mateo Adult School
Photo Credit:  Liv Ames for Edsource

“In some consortia, there is more overlap and more tension between community colleges and adult schools,” said Tim Doyle, assistant director of the San Mateo Adult School. “Here there is much more coordination. The local community college doesn’t do much of what we do.”

Daniel Pec is a 28-year-old immigrant from Guatemala who attends San Mateo Adult School. He said even though both San Mateo College and the adult school offer ESL classes, the focus of the two programs is different. Pec is trained in computer science and expects to eventually go to college, but for now he needs to learn English and support his family.

“The community college is very expensive, and it is more book English,” Pec said, adding that he likes the adult school because he has a chance to practice the language, which has helped him in his job at a restaurant.

Jones said the goal is to align the work that adult schools and community colleges are doing to improve access for all students. For example, a student might learn medical transcription at an adult school and then take a medical technology class at a community college. Or in Pec’s case, after learning conversational English in adult school, he might go on to learn “book English” at the local community college.

“We need better pathways,” Jones said. “When people exit one program, they should be adequately prepared when they get to the next one.”

Pursley said that there are many things left to be decided, but adult schools can now “breathe a sigh of relief.”

“There is money for us, and a system is being put into place for ongoing funding,” she said. “Adult schools have a future, and it’s going to be interesting, to say the least.”