Monday, October 26, 2015

Adult Education Task Force: Working Together for Common Good Purpose

Working together for common good purpose is powerful and brings results. 

To that end, John Mears, long time activist for Adult Education and Adult Schools, has helped to pull together the Adult Education Task Force.  John teaches at West Valley Occupational Center, a division of Adult and Career Ed in Los Angeles.  He is a long time and very active UTLA member, started the No Lawmaker Left Behind Campaign, and was an integral member of the Alliance for California Adult Schools.

Advocates for Adult Education meeting with Assembly Member Patty Lopez
John Mears is sleeves-rolled-up at the desk of Assembly Member Lopez

Here, in his own words, is a description of the Adult Education Task Force:
The Adult Education Task Force (AETF) was formed when adult-ed activists in the San Fernando Valley concerned about the lack of funding for our programs met with Assemblywoman Patty Lopez (39th Dist.), who used to work at the North Valley Occupational Center.  Now, as an elected member of the California State Assembly, Ms. Lopez is vocally supportive of our programs.  In fact, she ran for office in part because of frustration that her predecessor -- former Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra -- did not seem supportive of our programs when we were threatened with elimination in 2012.  
Here's a brief timeline:
August 20 & 21:  AETF videotaped long lines of adult students hoping to register for ESL classes at West Valley Occupational Center, and collected letters from students, addressed to Patty Lopez, asking for help in restoring our program to a level that fully serves our communities.  I turned the video into a DVD for advocacy purposes (available upon request).
August 26:  LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines wrote a letter to the Chancellor of the L.A. Community College District (LACCD), Dr. Francisco Rodriguez, expressing concern about delays in allocations from the L.A. Regional Adult Education Consortium (LARAEC).
September 4:  AETF worked with Patty Lopez's office to write a letter and send a package of supporting material (student letters and a DVD) to LACCD Chancellor Rodriguez, in support of Superintendent Cortines's Aug. 26 letter, emphasizing the urgency for LARAEC to decide on the allocation of Adult Education Block Grant funds to address the unmet needs in our communities. (The unmet needs were shown by the long lines of students in the DVD:  550 students waiting to be one of 60 students that could be tested each day.)
Sept. 14, I accompanied two of Patty Lopez's district office staff members on a trip to Sacramento to visit with Ms. Lopez and CDE representatives for adult education: Chris Nelson and Alejandro Espinoza.  There, we were told unequivocally that adult education is underfunded.  At that meeting, Patty Lopez told the CDE people that she would like to have a conversation with Gov. Brown.  AETF decided to focus on lobbying Gov. Brown for greater funding.
Oct. 23, I attended a LARAEC meeting, where I made a public comment on behalf of the Adult Education Task Force about the unmet needs in LAUSD.  The LARAEC meeting had two "action items": 
  1. "Governance structure" (i.e. Establish a governance structure for LARAEC to allocate state funds from the Adult Education Block Grant or "AEBG")
  2. "Funding distribution" (i.e. Decide how to distribute the approximately $28 million LARAEC was receiving for its AEBG.)

Representing Burbank USD, Emilio Urioste moved that the governance structure for LARAEC be "one vote per district."  Before there was any discussion, L.A. Trade Tech President Larry Frank (representing LACCD) immediately said, "I'd like to make a second motion."  He moved that the governance structure be "consensus."  He said, "Our biggest problem is the legislation, which doesn't really tell us how to work together."  Of course, he was talking about AB 86 and AB 104.  "There are unanswered questions in the legislation," he said, suggesting we need new legislation.  In the following discussion, it came out that sixty-five consortia in California still don't have a formal governance structure.  There was back-and-forth about one vote per district vs. consensus, but finally a vote was called, and it was four to one (five members present) in favor of one vote per district.  Larry Frank voted "No."

On to action item #2.  Different districts offered their apportionment distribution proposals, but Larry Frank said, "My understanding is that what we agree today is not an agreement of the consortium."  Five different plans were presented and discussed -- one for each consortium member -- with amendments and votes, but with each vote, Larry Frank said, "We do not have a governance structure that would allow me to participate." 

Finally Culver City USD's proposal was passed by three to one, with Larry Frank again repeating the above statement.  The meeting closed without a clear indication whether Larry Frank's protests had legal/procedural weight, i.e. whether they actually prevented the vote from having validity and allowing disbursement to proceed.

It became clear to me at that meeting that we need legislative clarity on the governance structure for regional adult education consortia in California, so I came home and wrote the first draft of a bill to establish clear governance structures for all consortia.  The second draft of that proposed bill is attached.

On Wed., Oct. 28 there will be an AETF meeting at North Valley Occupational Center, where Patty Lopez used to work. The meeting will be recorded on video by the State Assembly's AV department, to show other assembly members what we're doing.

Click here to "like" the Adult Education Task Force Facebook page.

Monday, October 5, 2015

CCAE Call for Presentations for 2016 State Conference.

CCAE 2016 State Conference Call for Presentations

The call for presentations at the CCAE - California Council for Adult Education - 2016 State Conference is now open.

Proposals must be received by the deadline of 11:59 p.m. PST, on November 20, 2015, for consideration for the 2016 CCAE State Conference. 

Click here to submit your proposal.

This year the State Conference will be held at the San Francisco Airport Marriot and will be hosted by the CCAE Bay Region Chapter. 

CCAE State Conferences are always rich with resources, connections, information, and opportunities.

If you have great ideas, information, or experiences that can benefit others, now is the time to submit a proposal to share them!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Perspective: Kristen Pursley on Keeping ESL & Citizenship Free

From Kristen Pursley's Save Your Adult School blog:

Adult School English as a Second Language and Citizenship Classes Must Be Offered Free Again – Let’s Keep It That Way!

by kpursley
Under California law, adult school English as a Second Language (ESL) and Citizenship classes must once again be offered free of charge. AB 189, a 2011 emergency measure allowing adult schools to charge for these classes until July 2015, expired this year, and was not renewed or extended.  AB 189 legitimized a haphazard pattern of charging for ESL and Citizenship classes that sprang up in the wake of California’s 2008 budget crisis and the resulting “categorical flexibility” that removed protections on state adult school funds.  While some districts chose not to charge for adult school ESL and Citizenship classes, others worked out their own systems for charging with no overall coordination at the state level or, often, consultation with neighboring districts. The result was a patchwork system of charges  that varied greatly from region to region as to whether students paid,  how much they  paid if there were fees,  and whether they paid by the year, by semester or by class.  This system has now been dismantled, at least for the present, and adult schools are again mandated to offer ESL and Citizenship classes free of charge.

Hit the "read more" link to learn more.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

CCAE: At Attempt at Clarity to Avoid Audit Exceptions & Penalties

From CCAE Legislative Analyst Dawn Koepke:
An Attempt at Clarity to Avoid Audit Exceptions & Penalties

We've heard from across the state that you all are working earnestly to implement the new era of adult education; however, you've also shared questions and concerns about the details of moving forward.  I believe we can all agree that the Adult Ed Block Grant provides such great opportunity and yet it is filled with provisions that, arguably, seem to lack clarity or sufficient level of detail.  As with any law or budget passed, we must always consider the intent that led to the details of the policy and budget for clues about how to address such perceived lack of clarity.  We worked hard and were at the front lines of developing the policy framework that led us to this point, so let's revisit what we believe to be true based on those discussions in an effort to provide some clarity on some of the biggest issues/questions we've heard to date.
FAQ #1:            Will the Adult Education Block Grant be audited this year and how do I avoid an audit exception and penalties?
CDE has the authority to audit adult schools and their expenditures.  In order to avoid an audit exception and penalties, it is important that adult schools operate in line with the intent of AB 104 and the Adult Education Block Grant.  We've offered the following additional FAQs in an effort to help provide additional clarity on some of the key provisions under the Adult Education Block Grant.
FAQ #2:            Can LCFF funds be used for adult education?
LCFF does not prohibit the use of LCFF funds for adult education - allocation of LCFF funds are at the discretion of the school district.  That said and as you know the structure of LCFF focuses on the K-12 student, given the funding thresholds to be achieved per student under the framework school districts will inevitably look to use most of the funds for K-12 purposes in order to meet the goals and standards under LCFF.  Nevertheless, adult schools should continue to push for inclusion in its district's LCAP based on parent engagement, concurrent enrollment and other programs offered by an adult school that can and does provide value to the district's K-12 priorities.
FAQ #3:            Does the Adult Education Block Grant require a local fiscal agent?
Consortia should make their own decisions locally about whether to have a local fiscal agent or to rely on the funding to come through CDE and the school district.  As your state representatives, we want to be sure you know that there should be no concern with exercising this flexibility we worked so hard to obtain.  
FAQ #4:            Will consortia decisions to not have a local fiscal agent impact how quickly they receive funding?
While it has been characterized that lack of a local fiscal agent may result in adult schools not receiving their funding quickly, the timing should not be an issue.  To be clear, the language in AB 104 provides that the Superintendent and Chancellor must approve a schedule of allocations to consortia by October 30th with the requirement to apportion the funds to a local fiscal agent, if designated, no more than 30 days later.  For a consortium that has not designated a local fiscal agent, the Superintendent and Chancellor are required to apportion the funds no more than 30 days after receipt of a final distribution schedule from the consortium.  This only means that consortia that elect not to have a local fiscal agent will need to move quickly to finalize their local apportionment schedules so as to indicate how much the Superintendent and Chancellor should apportion to each member, which in theory could be done one day after the state apportionment numbers are finalized and submitted that day with the 30 day clock running the same schedule as a consortium with a local fiscal agent.  Presuming consortia without a local fiscal agent move quickly to finalize their local apportionment schedules, there should be no delay in receipt of funds.
FAQ #5:            Does the Adult Ed Block Grant allow for adult schools to serve concurrent, under 18 years of age students?
Nothing in AB 104 prohibits an adult school from serving students under 18 years of age.  That said, it is our interpretation based on the language of AB 104 and intent of the Department of Finance and Legislature that Adult Education Block Grant funding should be used only for adults - students 18 years or older.  For students served by adult schools who are under age 18, LCFF dollars should be sought to help cover the costs of instruction for these students.  With regard to the validity of such credits, it is our understanding that such a determination is an individual school district issue.  To the extent that a local school district accepts the credits obtained through an adult school credit recovery program funded with LCFF dollars for the purpose of a high school diploma, then the diploma should be accepted by other programs as well.
FAQ #6:            Can adult schools continue to charge fees for ESL and citizenship classes?
Although AB 189 (2011) provided fee authority for adult schools to charge fees for classes in ESL and citizenship, the caveat was that it was a time-limited authority that expired as of July 2015.  Going forward, there is no longer the authority for adult schools to charge fees for these classes.  While CCAE and CAEAA attempted to have bill language introduced that would have reinstated the fee authority until such time as the broader fee policy is established for adult education, there was unfortunately no willingness to entertain the extension of the fee authority.   Instead, we will need to work with our consortia to access the funds over and above the maintenance of capacity funding to help fill the gap.  
                        It should also be noted that AB 189 never provided authority for adult schools to charge fees for basic skills and adult secondary classes and that still remains true today.
FAQ #7:            What does the 5% administrative cap entail, allow and/or prohibit?
Recall AB 104 included language as follows:
Education Code Section 84913
                                    (b)  A consortium may use no more than 5 percent of funds allocated in a given fiscal year for the sum of the following:
     (1)  The costs of administration of these programs.
     (2)  The costs of the consortium.
While we supported an administrative cap being placed on consortia related activities, we were concerned with the lack of clarity regarding this language in that it would seemingly place the same cap on costs associated with adult schools delivering programs.  A strict interpretation of the cap would unquestionably devastate most adult schools and hinder the ability to deliver programs that ensure the best outcomes.  Based on conversations with legislative staff and the intent of the Department of Finance, they seem to be comfortable with the general approach CDE and the Chancellor's office are proposing that would not include the following items under the cap:
-       Salaries and benefits (for all staff and a consortium facilitator/staff person)  
-       Maintenance and custodial supplies    
-       Instructional Support including materials, supplies, technology and equipment    
-       Services including contracts, professional development, marketing and outreach, internships and externships
Legislative staff suggests moving forward with the understanding that these items are outside the cap and would be allowable.  Should there be a need to adjust the language or provide further clarity the Legislature is open to doing so in future legislative and/or budget activities.
If you have questions or concerns regarding this content, please contact CCAE via membership    at or CAEAA via bharper    at  Thank you!



Monday, September 14, 2015

Update from CCAE Legislative Analyst Dawn Koepke: Moving Forward - Fee Authority, Administrative Cap, Concurrent Students & SB 786 (Allen)

Dawn Koepke
Legislative Analyst
California Council of
Adult Education
A legislative update from Dawn Koepke, Legislative Analyst for CCAE (California Council of Adult Education):
Moving Forward - Fee Authority, Administrative Cap, Concurrent Students & SB 786 (Allen)

As we move forward in a post-AB 104 adult education era, we will undoubtedly become aware of components that need to be adjusted and/or reworked.  Some of the initial items we identified mid-summer needing legislative engagement included reinstating fee authority for ESL and citizenship programs and clarifying the interpretation of the 5% administrative cap.

Click on the "read more" link to learn more.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What Happened At Acalanes?

What happens when funding is threatened, reduced,
removed, and destabilized for programs paid by the
public and designed to serve it?

Click on the "read more" link to find out.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Montebello Community Adult Ed Advocates August Newsletter

From the Adult Education Advocates in the Montebello Community

Adult Education______________________________________________
                                                A Newsletter on Adult Education in California August 2015


Legislation on fees in adult education is needed before the Legislature adjourns in September.  At a minimum, the provisions of AB 189 (Eng, 2011) need to be extended since they sunset on June 30th. AB 189 allowed fees in ESL/Citizenship classes, and supported districts as they sought to continue these course offerings.

Click on the "read more" link to learn more.