Friday, May 22, 2020

SMAS Student Shelley Cheng Writes to Governor Newsom

San Mateo Adult School Student Shelley Cheng shares her letter to Governor Newsom:

Dear Governor Newsom,

I am Shelley Cheng, from China. My family moved to the U.S. two and a half years ago because my husband’s job brought him here. Now my daughter is in a public high school in Burlingame, and I am an ESL student at San Mateo Adult School in California.

I deeply appreciate the strong actions that you and your administration have taken on protecting California populations from the spread of COVID-19. Today, I wrote this letter to you to ask you and your administration to protect the funding for adult education, which may be possible budget cutting for some public institutions and agencies to balance budgets in California.

Undoubtedly, adult education is an essential component for California, which is home to almost 11 million immigrants. Adult educators help thousands of immigrants find a better job and life. Even during the quarantine, all the teachers and staff have still been doing their best to make connections with all students by remote classes to teach and support us. Take me as an example, while I was working in China, I didn’t have a chance to use English, so my English skills were very inadequate. Thus I felt anxious and lost my confidence when I first came to the U.S. I was even afraid to communicate with people who speak English. I still remember when my daughter's school teacher first called me, I couldn’t understand anything she said. I was defeated with nowhere to go and nothing to do. My life was stranded because of my language restriction. Fortunately , taking involvement in our school’s classes and programs have improved not only my English skills but also my soft skills. I have made many new friends who are from different countries with different cultures, and we have supported each other like family members and shared information to overcome common barriers. Eventually, I regained my confidence and self-esteem while I volunteered both inside and outside of our school.

In addition, in order to build our self-confidence and to guide us in our new lives here in the USA, our school has built a good connection with the local community to offer opportunities for students to contribute to our school and community. Thus, Some classmates found jobs by taking job searching classes or other career training programs. As a student ambassador, I can help new students adapt to the new environment of our school; as the Census 2020 ambassador, I have visited other adult schools and did presentations to help more people feel comfortable to participate in being counted in the Bay Area.

I am just an ordinary person who has benefited from Adult Education and is capable of giving back to the society in California, United States of America. In order to help more people and families, please don’t cut the budget from adult education.

Thank you again for your continuing leadership and for considering Adult Education. I am proud to stand with you, other advocates for Adult Education, and all people to keep our communities safe and healthy.


Shelley Cheng

San Mateo, CA, 94401

Sunday, May 17, 2020

May Revise Follow Up Letter Writing

Writing Letters to Legislators

Here’s some info to help you:

Our message:

We know: the COVID crisis costs a lot of money. 
Governor Newsom had to change the budget proposal and make some cuts.  
All public Ed has some cuts.  Adult Ed has bigger cuts.
Adult Ed has never recovered - been adequately funded again - from
the big cuts of 2008/9.

California needs strong Adult Ed for a strong recovery. 
Adult Education can help people survive the crisis and recover. 
English, job skills, health information, GED, High School Diploma,
and citizenship can help people take care of their families, help their
children with remote learning, work from home, find new jobs, and
volunteer in the community.  

Stable funding for Adult Education will help stabilize California

Letter How To

Who are your legislators for where you live?  

Be sure to mention if you live or work in someone’s district!

Note: It might be helpful to write to  Assemblymember Phil Ting

Why Asm Ting?

* He is on the Budget Subcommittee about Education.
* He is also the Vice Chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.
* “Because of his experience in the financial sector and as the
San Francisco Assessor-Recorder, Ting has become a leading voice
on California’s finances. He now serves as Chair of the Assembly
Budget Committee after having served as Chair of the Assembly
Committee on Revenue and Taxation.” 

Assemblymember Phil Ting  Website

Contact info:
  • Capitol Office:
  • P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA  94249-0019
  • Tel: 916 - 319 - 2019
  • District Office
  • 455 Golden Gate Ave, Suite 14600, San Francisco, CA  94102
  • San Mateo Adult School
    students with letters to legislators
  • Tel: 415 557 1178

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

SMAS Student Edy Vasquez Writes to Governor Newsom

Edy Vasquez is a student at San Mateo Adult School. You can read more of his story here.
In the midst of this pandemic, as we face economic uncertainty, he writes a letter to Governor Newsom:

Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th St., #1173
Sacramento, CA. 95814
April 23, 2020
Dear Governor Gavin Newsom,

I am Edy Vasquez,  from Guatemala. I’m  a student at  San Mateo Adult School in
California, United States of America.  

With all due respect, I am writing this letter to you. thanking you for the
effort made in the state of California, keeping everyone safe from COVID 19,
looking after our health and coming to town.  This was an excellent job done
as a governor.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for everything.  '

The reason for this letter is because I understand there may be possible budget
cutting for some public institutions and agencies. To continue to function properly,
we need balanced budgets. 

For this reason I took the liberty of writing this letter and to concentrate on adult
education in our county. I attend San Mateo Adult School. Education is very
important for both children and adults. By educating ourselves, we can better
serve the State of California and provide a better economy by producing work.  

On the other hand, if our school continues to be funded, teachers will not be
unemployed, they will be able to contribute to the state that which is valuable,
which is education. I hereby ask you to reconsider aid for all adult schools. As a student,
I see education as the key to success for the future of my family and to improve the
education of my children. On the other hand, I help my community from school
by participating in the programs that exist in the school, which are census,
green team, hot food service, student ambassador, and more.

Please don’t cut our budget. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.


Edy Vasquez

Edy with the message:
Adult Education Matters!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Letter to Legislators: Keep Adult Ed Funding Strong and Stable!

My personal letter to legislators:

April 26, 2020

Re:  Stable Funding for Adult Education

Dear Legislator,                 

I’m a veteran ESL Teacher at San Mateo Adult School, former union officer in our local CFT 4681, and a representative on the CFT Adult Ed Committee.  I’m a member of CCAE - the California Council for Adult Education.  I author the Adult Education Matters blog. I work with other advocates around the state to reveal the secret that Adult Ed is the hidden gem of California.

I am writing to you about the possibility that Adult Education may once again see horrific cuts - and what a disaster that would be for California.

We know that the current pandemic is severely affecting the economy and will for a while.  We know the revised budget for California will need to be leaner and it necessarily be “meaner” in several difficult but necessary ways.  We know that the choices we make now will be long-lasting and will shape what comes after probably for decades - similar to decisions made during the Great Depression and World War II.  

That’s why I’m writing to ask you to ensure that funding for Adult Education remains STABLE. 

I am very concerned that where Adult Ed is concerned, there might be a repeat of what happened the last time we had a less severe economic downturn.  In 2008, when Wall Street crashed into Main Street, Governor Schwarzenneger flexed K12 Adult Ed funding so that K12 Districts could use it to survive their own cuts - forgetting that Adult Ed educates and supports the families and communities raising the kids the K12 districts serve.

This was disastrous on multiple levels.  Over 70 Adult Schools closed, all were cut, and Californians across the state lost access to ESL, Job Training, Citizenship, GED, High School Diploma Programs, Parent Education, Financial and Health Literacy, and Older Adults Programs.

When Governor Brown restructured Adult Education, he narrowed it to a more “workforce” focus, eliminating funding for Financial Literacy, Home Economics (Life Skills!), Parent Education, and Older Adults Programs, forgetting that ending free Financial LIteracy programs right after a housing meltdown in which thousands of Californians lost their homes was not a wise idea and that life skills are crucial to community health (See: Problems with Pandemics), and that Parent Education and Older Adults programs support healthy communities which raise healthy kids, lower medical costs, and boost community contributions.

What will happen now?  What rationalization might be used to eliminate Adult Ed funding or narrow the focus even more?
We know - already - that this pandemic is going to reshape our culture, state, and economy in deep and long-lasting ways.  We need to think carefully about what we fund and why as we work our way out of it and into a post-pandemic California. 

We need low-cost programs that encourage physical, mental, economic, family, community, and civic health ---- THAT’S ADULT EDUCATION!

Some industries - such as the restaurant and entertainment industries - will be deeply impacted for a while. Those Californians who were working in these jobs will need free or low-cost, short-term job training in new fields ---- THAT’S ADULT EDUCATION!

We need Californians to be able to support their kids in school - including understanding how to help them navigate a new world of remote learning, make community contributions, and engage in civic matters - THAT’S ADULT EDUCATION!

We need every California to have free or low-cost, easy access to the education they need to move out of this difficult crisis and into a recovery that serves and lifts everyone - THAT’S ADULT EDUCATION!

Adult Education is part of the COVID Recovery Team!

But if it’s defunded?  It can’t play its important role on that team - the community base, turn on a dime, low cost member who is always there in a crunch and a crisis to help the team win the game.

PLEASE do everything you can to ensure Adult Education remains funded at the amount it is now. 

Connect with other legislators.  Jose Medina and Kevein McCarthy in the Assembly are folks who know and understand - from lived experience - the value of Adult Ed.  


Cynthia Eagleton

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Adult Ed Week 2020: K12 Adult Ed is on the COVID Recovery Team and Needs Stable Funding to Do That Work!

April 20 to 24 is  Adult Ed Week 2020 - but not the way we thought it would be.

Many of us were revving up to attend CCAE Leg Day followed by the CCAE State Conference in Sacramento.  We were going to push again on the 110 million ask for Adult Ed Funding.  (Remember - Adult Ed has been under-funded for over ten years!)

SMAS Teacher Jessica
Wearing her Red for Adult Ed
and a facial covering
fto #BeatCOVID
Then COVID happened.

Does Adult Ed still matter?  Do K12 Adult Schools have a special role to play in the COVID Recovery process?

Will English language skills, job skills, health literacy, citizenship, GED and high school diplomas, make a positive difference as we navigate and recover from this crisis?

We know the answer is YES!   Adult Education Matters!  Now more than ever!  

Do crises sometimes mean disaster for K12 Adult Schools?

This is a critical point and one that needs to be remembered as we talk to our legislators about the importance of Adult Education, especially as we move through this crisis and into what we expect to be rough financial times ahead.  As communicated very clearly from the Governor and our Legislature, there are difficult financial decisions ahead. The last time we faced a similar situation Adult Education experienced the effect of local flexibility, and the Adult Education system statewide was almost dismantled in its entirety. The Department of Finance and legislators openly admitted after that this was a mistake in policy.

K12 Adult Ed as a means to COVID Recovery needs to be

in the public mind and discourse.
in Legislative mind and discourse
in Governor and Dept of Finance mind and discourse

Adult Ed Week is all about that - So how can we make that happen while we shelter at home?

Here's how:

1. Dialogue with your students
  • Ask your students how and why Adult Ed is especially important now as we cope with this crisis
  • Ask them how they plan to rely on it as we work to recover from the crisis
  • Provide your students with info about the situation
    • Adult ed underfunded
    • State budget needs to be rewritten because of COVID
    • We need make sure the Governor and Legislator knows Adult Ed Matters  
2.  Social Media
  • This week, take photos of yourself wearing #Red4AdultEd
  • Ask your students to do the same
  • If you're zooming, with student permission, grab a screen print of you and your students wearing Red for Adult Ed - maybe holding up signs saying Adult Education Matters
  • Share the photos on social media with hashtags and stats and stories about Adult Ed
  • Post stories old or new that showcase the value of Adult Ed - especially now when we are facing a Recession/Depression situation.
3.  Emails and letters - click here for help from CCAE
  • Write your State Senator, Assembly Member, and the Governor about Adult Ed Funding - and mention K12 Adult Ed specifically
  • Letters on paper have more impact than emails
  • Phone calls are super fantastic - call and ask to talk to the aide in charge of education
  • If you make a phone call, dialogue with the aide you speak with - ask them what their Member plans on pushing for in this new budget, what their priorities are, what their questions about the role of Adult Ed might be

4. Join CCAE   
  • CCAE is the only organization specifically devoted to K12 Adult Ed - and remember, K12 Adult Ed gets the worst cuts - much worse than CC Adult Ed
  • This week they are having a webinar - Legislative Advocacy Reimagined  - sign up for it!
  • If your register for the webinar, you can watch it later, at your convenience

5.  If you work at a school with a union, join the union if you're not a member, and get involved if you are!
  • San Mateo Adult School has done great things for Adult Ed through CFT Local 4681
  • Unions are doing a lot right now to to help educators, students, and families cope with this crisis
  • Be part of that good work and have a stronger voice in advocacy for K12 Adult Ed, by joining the union and being active in it

6.  Take action - take a photo, write a letter, reach out to your networks

* Celebrate and advocate through photos, stories, letters, emails, and calls. 

* Talk with your students
     * Ask them for feedback on how Adult Ed is helping them cope with this crisis 
     * Ask them how it can help them recover as the pandemic recedes 
     * Ask them what they need from Adult Ed now and in future to survive, take care of their families, and navigate the economic fallout from this crisis

* Join CCAE and/or your union and get involved in advocacy.

* Share why Adult Ed Matters with your network of friends and family.

Remember, failure to take action can lead to a crisis -- and wise action can help us recover. 

Take wise action!


Because #AdultEducationMatters!






Saturday, May 18, 2019

CFT Local 4681 Letter to Governor Newsom: Increase Funding for Adult Education - Adult Schools!

May 14, 2019

From:  CFT Local 4681, San Mateo Adult School Federation of Teachers

Re:  Funding for Adult Education - 110 Million Increase Needed Now

Dear Governor Newsom,

We are the teachers of San Mateo Adult School Federation of Teachers, California Federation of Teachers Local 4681.  We provide Adult Education to the central and eastern part of San Mateo County: English as a Second Language, Career Tech Education, GED, High School Diploma, Citizenship, Parent Education, Older Adults and Community Integration programs.

You left Adult Ed out of your budget and May Revise thinking, understanding, and increases.  You increased funding for Community Colleges - maybe in the mistaken idea they are the main providers of Adult Education. They are not.   

Adult Schools are the primary providers of Adult Education in California.  In the relatively new Regional Consortia system, Adult Education, county by county, is delivered through the coordination of Adult Schools and Community Colleges.  In a very few places - such as San Francisco - the main provider is the Community College. In most places, it is Adult Schools.

Adult Schools have been grossly underfunded since 2009 when the Global Financial Crash spurred Governor Schwarzenegger to flex categorical funds and allow K12 districts to use Adult Ed funding to survive the recession era cuts.

Prior to 2009, Adult Ed in California was funded at 750 million. Now it is funded at roughly 500 million - even though there are more people to serve and this money must now fund some non-credit Community College programs if they are part of the Regional Consortia delivery system for Adult Ed.

California - as you know - is the 5th largest economy in the world.

It is also 17th in income inequality.

We have the means to address the problem of income inequality - and Adult Education is a crucial part of the solution --- IF Adult Ed is adequately funded.

Your May Revise provided millions in a special program to support undocumented students and staff at Community Colleges.  Wonderful! But did you know that our system - Adult Schools - is mandated to NEVER ask about immigrant status - whereas the Community College can and often does?  We have many undocumented students. We can’t give you an exact number - because we are not allowed to ask! But we wager we have more than the Community College system.  If you want to help undocumented students and immigrants, you must fund Adult Education!

We know you understand the importance of families and communities. We do, too!   No teacher or school or institution can replace family or community. Mother’s education level remains the best predictor of child success.

Alt Text:
Button with hand holding a pencil in a raised fist
"Adult Education Matters"
More than any other branch of public education, Adult Education upskills, empowers, and strengthens the most vulnerable parents, families, and communities.

We have been underfunded for over ten years!
Do the right thing - and increase the budget for Adult Education by 110 million dollars!


Cynthia Eagleton, CFT Local 4681 Vice President
The teachers of San Mateo Adult School, SMAS Federation of Teachers

San Mateo, CA 94401

Monday, April 29, 2019

Contact Key Legislators to Ask for Increase in Funds for Adult Education

California is one of the biggest and strongest economies in the world - but funding for Adult Education still lags behind the funding it received prior to the global financial crash of 2008-09.  

For more on that topic and why now is the moment to ask for adequate funding, go here.
Alt text:  "Now" with clock at center

This is the moment.

Gather together with students, staff and community members.

Reach out to key legislators who sit on the Budget Subcommittees and to the Chairs of the Budget Committees to ensure they understand the importance of adequately funding Adult Education. 

Tell them why it is so important to fund Adult Education - what it does - and what it can do with adequate funding.

Here is a list of legislators important to contact.  Click on the link to find their contact information.  Send letters to their Sacramento office if you don't live or work in their district.

Senator Holly Mitchell, Senate Budget Committee Chair

Senator Jim Nielsen, Senate Budget Committee Vice Chair

Senate Budget Subcommittee #1 on Education
Senator Richard Roth (Chair), Senator Connie Leyva and Senator Mike Morrell


Assembly member Phil Ting, Assembly Budget Committee Chair

Assembly member Jay Obernolte, Assembly Budget Committee Vice Chair