Sunday, May 22, 2016

Save Your Adult School: We Need to Serve 5 Million

Kristen Pursely, author of  the blog "Save Your Adult School," shines a light on the current situation and brilliantly explains it all in the SYAS post below:

We Need to Serve 5 Million

California is home to 5.2 million adults who have less than a high school education, and community colleges and adult schools combined have only ever been able to serve about one-fifth of them. That figure should be the north star that guides all adult education policy in California,the goal of reaching all 5.2 million the mark we know we all need to strive for. But so far this has not been the case.  Currently the state is in the midst of reforming the adult education system, and is shining the bright light of scrutiny on all adult education activities, demanding data, data, data. But the  3.5 million unserved adults remain in the shadows, rarely mentioned, though the shocking size of their numbers is the most important datum of all.

The  2012 Legislative Analyst’s Report  “Restructuring California’s Adult Education System”, one of the chief documents guiding the current reform measures,  noted that adult schools and community colleges together served about 1.5 million students in 2009-2010.  That was the first year after the fiscal crisis in California had begun to take its toll on community colleges and adult schools, but long before its ravages were complete.  Over the next several years, both systems continued to suffer, and the number of students they were able to serve continued to drop.  Adult schools were particularly hard hit.  The state in essence defunded them, throwing them on the mercy of their school districts.  Some adult schools closed down completely, most suffered severe cuts. When the recession was over and the state began to recover, the state restored and even increased community college funding, but froze adult school funding at the abysmal level it had fallen to by 2013.  There it remains today, so the adult education system of 2016 still has not recovered the capacity it had in 2009-10, a time when educational services were still reaching only about one-fifth of the adults who needed them.

In the midst of the recession and the attendant cuts and budget chaos, the state began making plans to “reform” the adult education system.  But the focus of the “reform” was not the 3.5 million and counting Californians who were going without basic education services. Instead, the state chose to dither  over “duplication of services” between adult schools and community colleges.  In other words, in the midst of this tremendous, and increasing, dearth of services, we somehow had too many services!  And these extra services had to be stamped out!

Never much more than a Republican talking point adopted by Democrats who wanted to look tough (and oh, how tough they could look stomping all over the nearly powerless adult schools and their marginalized and vulnerable students!), “duplication of services” was never very well defined.  After all, to people who just don’t like the idea of public services at all, the mere fact that both adult schools and community colleges   teach adults might be seen as an unacceptable “duplication of services.”  The significant differences in the way the two institutions serve students would not matter, nor would the fact that between the two of them they aren’t doing  nearly enough to serve all the Californians who need basic literacy services.

With little guidance as to what the offending duplication actually was, adult schools and community colleges, now mandated to work together in consortia to ,among other things, eliminate “duplication”, put themselves through contortions to avoid this fearsome and yet ill-defined monster. It is heart-rending to sit through meetings about the consortia, listening  to community college and adult school teachers alike talking in determined and yet uncertain tones about the things they  are doing to avoid “duplication of services”.  They sound rather like children who have been punished for an infraction they don’t understand but want to make sure they don’t commit again.  Because the nature of the duplication was never  clearly explained, everyone has their own definition.  All this agony over a non-problem, while the very real problem of lack of services goes unaddressed!

It should be noted that the State of California does not seem to be concerned about duplication of services in any other context.  While the consortia spin their wheels trying to eliminate duplication, the state is busily working on legislation to allow community colleges to award 4-year degrees in some fields.  The state is also encouraging community colleges to expand their non-credit programs, the very programs that look most like adult school programs and may have led to the idea that adult schools and community colleges are duplicating services in the first place.  Not that any of this is necessarily  bad.  But why is there so much concern about one kind of  (very vaguely defined) “duplication of services” between adult schools and community colleges,  while duplication is encouraged in other areas?  The state is being highly inconsistent about this, to say the least.

The whole thing might just be a kind of comedy of errors if the stakes weren’t so high for adult schools and the students they serve.  The state has very unfairly thrown the burden of making the consortium “partnerships” work onto adult schools.  All state funding for adult schools now comes through the Adult Education Block Grant (AEBG), and the block grant money only comes to adult schools that are in consortia with their community colleges.  By contrast, community colleges still have their own funding, quite a lot of funding compared to what adult schools had in even the best of times, which is not dependent on their being in the consortia at all.

The total amount of the AEBG is $500 million; which is $250 million less than was spent on adult schools alone before the financial crash of 2008. Out of that $500 million, only  $350 is dedicated to adult schools.  This $350 million represents the rock-bottom amount that was being spent on adult schools in 2014, when the legislation creating the AEBG was drafted.  The rest is available to the consortia to spend however they see fit. It might be spent on an adult school program, a community college program, or a collaboration between the two. But the amount of guaranteed funding for adult schools is no more than the deeply inadequate amount that was being spent on them at the end of  six long years of unlimited cuts to adult school budgets. Adult school funding fell steeply between 2009 and 2013, and then stagnated.  So far,the AEBG locks in the stagnation.  The state has no plans to increase the AEBG next year.

Yet it is up to the badly underfunded adult schools to make the consortia work.  The consortia are supposed to be a collaboration between adult schools and community colleges, but structurally the relationship is wildly unequal.  One partner, the community colleges, participates in the consortia only by choice and has adequate funding independent of what it receives through the consortium.  The other partner, the adult schools, is completely dependent on the consortia for survival.  Since the consortia are a collaboration, they can only succeed if the two parties work together.  But one party has practically nothing at stake, while the other will perish if the collaboration fails to meet state expectations.  Somehow the state has decided that holding the adult schools hostage to the consortia is the best way to make these “partnerships” work.  The engine of reform, apparently, is to be the desperation of the weaker party to the enterprise, whose wild scrambling for survival will somehow move adult education in California forward.

It is in the context of this grim struggle to survive that the state’s excuse for refusing to increase the Adult Education Block Grant for next year must be understood. The chief argument one hears is that the state wants to “see how the consortia work out”.  If the state likes the way the consortia are going, they might increase the AEBG for 2017-2018.

This is like putting a man on a diet of one slice of bread a week and saying, “Let’s see how he does on that.  If he does well on that slice for a month, maybe  we’ll give him two slices a week.” Everyone knows how that experiment would work out; the man would not show improvement; he would decline.  He would never earn that extra slice of bread, and would eventually die of hunger. His fault for not using that one slice of bread well.

Institutions are not so different.  If the state wants to see how well adult schools do on inadequate funding, it has had eight long years to observe the phenomenon.  What more do they need to see?  Wouldn’t the state like to see what we could do with a little more funding for a change?
Data, data, data.  The state wants to measure the hunger.  Could you give us measurements as to how far your bones are protruding through your flesh?  The state would like to see waiting lists for our classes to prove that there is a need.

We can give you waiting lists, but you know your waiting list, California.  The waiting list is 3.5 million.  Why does that generate no sense of urgency?  They may not be on waiting lists for adult education classes because the only adult school in their area closed, but they are waiting.
Ironically, there is one increase to adult education in the Governor’s May Revise of the 2016 budget: a one time, $5 million, allocation for technical support to the consortia.  No additional money for services, for classes and teachers, just some money to help the consortia tweak their bureaucracies a little more.  $5 million dollars–that’s one dollar for every person in the state who needs adult education services, the 1.5 million or so who are receiving services and the 3.5 million who wait.
A few steps have been taken towards the ones who are waiting.  A few adult schools have been reopened, mostly because the community colleges in their consortia have generously given up their portion of the consortium money to fund the reopening.  But not every community college will be able to afford to do this; the consortia do impose some costs on the community colleges, after all.  While some community colleges have behaved very handsomely and deserve to be commended for their foresight, the power of the community colleges alone to revive adult schools in California is limited.

Another important step is AB 1846 (Lopez), which would increase the Adult Education Block Grant by $250 million.  The aim of the bill is to restore the funding available to adult schools to something like what it was before the financial crisis of 2008, when the state spent about $750 million on adult schools.  This bill, if it passes, will be an excellent beginning to  reviving adult education services in California and eventually providing basic literacy services to all the adults in California who need them.

Five million Californians need adult education services. Providing services for them must be our goal.  Let’s set a course and go.




 

Hit Social Media with Hashtag #RestoreAdEd

Do you use social media?

Hit it with the hashtag #RestoreAdEd to let legislative leaders know of the need to adequately fund Adult Education!

You can directly post to the following facebook and twitter accounts:
Governor Brown: @JerryBrownGov
Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin De León: @kdeleon
Speaker Anthony Rendon: @Rendon63rd
Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting: @PhilTing
Senate Budget Chair: @MarkLeno


 

Press Enterprise Article: Bill Could Help Revive Inland Adult Schools

From the Press Enterprise:

EDUCATION:

Bill could help revive Inland adult schools

State legislation would restore funding for programs decimated by budget cuts during the recession.
  

EDUCATION: Bill could help revive Inland adult schools

Guadalupe Marquez, 36, of San Bernardino works in an ESL class at Inland Career Education Center in San Bernardino, on Thursday, April 19, 2016.
Guadalupe Marquez, 36, of San Bernardino works in an ESL class at Inland Career Education Center in San Bernardino, on Thursday, April 19, 2016.
DAVID BAUMAN, DAVID BAUMAN STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

By STEPHEN WALL / STAFF WRITER

ABOUT THE BILL

Number: Assembly Bill 1846

Author: Patty López, D-San Fernando

Description: Provides $250 million a year from the state's general fund for adult education

Purpose: The recession caused budget cuts that forced thousands of adults to halt their studies, preventing them from getting job skills and pursuing higher education.

Status: The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Appropriations Committee on Friday.

Rain or shine, sleet or snow, Rosa Vedoy won’t miss a day of school.

Vedoy, 42, drives from her Running Springs home every weekday for a basic English and math class at Inland Career Education Center, formerly the San Bernardino Adult School.
“I want to be able to achieve more and for my kids to be proud of me,” said Vedoy, a waitress and mother of three who arrived in the United States from Mexico a decade ago.
Vedoy said she’s lucky to have a seat at the crowded campus, which, like other Inland adult schools, has been battered by budget cuts that have eliminated programs and slashed classes. The reductions have led to fewer opportunities for adults to improve their skills as a springboard to a better life.
Aiming to improve the situation, state lawmakers are considering legislation that would restore adult education spending to levels before 2008, when dollars were moved to kindergarten through 12th-grade schools to offset budget troubles during the recession.

Assembly Bill 1846 would boost adult education funding by $250 million a year. The state now sets aside $500 million a year for adult education in block grants to 70 regional consortiums made up of school districts and community colleges.

The measure, scheduled to be heard in the appropriations committee Friday, is needed to save a system that’s “now on its last legs,” said Assemblywoman Patty López, D-San Fernardo, the bill’s author.

Short-term career technical education, including accounting, medical assistant and computer-based technology courses, also were axed.

The district, which will get nearly $8 million from the consortium the next two years, is using some of those dollars to bring back summer school in June. It added 12 classes in the past month, Slyter said.

Because of the district’s growing population, current funding levels don’t meet the demand for services, she said.

The Moreno Valley Unified School District, which saw a 70 percent drop in adult school enrollment from 2008 to 2014, is using consortium money to increase ESL classes and buy Chromebooks so students can apply for jobs online.

The district opened a satellite school in January and plans three more to offer night classes in August, said Tammy Guzzetta, principal of Moreno Valley Community Adult School.

Guzzetta said the district wants to offer logistics and manufacturing classes to prepare students for those industries.

“Those kinds of classes disappeared when the money disappeared,” she said. “Now we have the money.”

Joyce Johnson, dean of career technical education at Mt. San Jacinto College, is co-chairwoman of the consortium serving southwest Riverside County.

Adult schools in the region had a 43 percent enrollment drop from 2009 to 2014. The addition of block grant funding let the college expand ESL, citizenship and GED classes in the past 18 months.

Additional dollars would extend programs to areas far from any adult schools, she said.

“There’s more we can do,” Johnson said.

At the San Bernardino education center, Catalina Diaz said she stood in line at 4 a.m. to get a spot in a GED class.

“I didn’t want to be left out,” said Diaz, 53, a single mother with four children. She started working at 18 to support her oldest daughter and had factory jobs most of her life. She quit her most recent job as a grocery store stocker because the work was draining. Now she wants to become an elementary school teaching assistant.

“It was really hard,” she said of returning to school. “Imagine 34 years without opening a book and studying. But I have to do it if I want a better life for my kids and myself.”

Contact the writer: 951-368-9292 or swall@pe.com

STILL NOT ENOUGH
Inland adult education leaders support the legislation but say it’s not enough to support a growing demand for services in a region with many adults who can’t read or write, speak little English and lack high school diplomas.

“Adult education is still extremely underfunded,” said Karen Bautista, principal of San Bernardino’s center. “We know that it is no longer enough to have a high school diploma to qualify for a sustainable wage job. You need some kind of postsecondary education.”

Recession-era funding cuts prompted enrollment to plummet by almost half since 2008, from 15,000 to 8,500 students. English as a second language classes were cut in half and high school diploma programs by a third during that time, Bautista said.

The center ended classes for older adults such as yoga and aerobics. Summer school, Saturday classes and Monday and Wednesday night courses are over.
The situation is starting to turn around as money from the consortium – expected to be $5 million to $7 million – will allow the center to restore some classes and programs in the next year, Bautista said.

REVITALIZING PROGRAMS

After years of cuts, the Corona-Norco Unified School District is starting to rebuild its adult education program, Director JoDee Slyter said. She is also coordinator of the consortium serving the Riverside Community College District boundaries.

Since 2008, Corona-Norco’s adult enrollment has dropped almost by half, from a little more than 6,000 to about 3,200 students.
The district eliminated summer programs and cut classes from a full week to part time starting in 2009. Officials developed a hybrid model that included online learning outside the classroom to make up for the lost instruction.


To see earlier coverage of Riverside on this blog, go here and here.

  • More from this story

    image1-EDUCATION: Bill could help revive Inland adult schools


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    Assembly Member Patty Lopez' Office Call To Action

    From the Office of Assembly Member Patty Lopez

    Hi Everyone,
    I would like to announce that we will begin to increase our pressure to the Governor and the State Legislature through the budget process as the legislature has until June 15 to pass a budget.
    Our Call to Action

    We are asking students, teachers, and community members to wear red on May 31st at their adult schools and to post photos on facebook, twitter, and other social media outlets asking the Governor and Legislature to restore adult education funding. Please use the hashtag #RestoreAdEd when you are posting so we can keep track of how many post have been sent.



    Also please make sure to directly post to the following facebook and twitter accounts:
    Governor Brown: @JerryBrownGov
    Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin De León: @kdeleon
    Speaker Anthony Rendon: @Rendon63rd
    Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting: @PhilTing
    Senate Budget Chair: @MarkLeno
    Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks everyone once again for all your hard work on this issue.
    Christopher Sanchez
    Office of Assemblywoman Patty López  
    Representing the 39th Assembly District
    State Capitol, Room 5160
    Phone: (916) 319 – 2039
    Fax: (916) 319 – 2139

    Saturday, May 7, 2016

    AB1846 Fact Sheet and Update

    Assembly Member Patty Lopez produced the following fact sheet about AB1846.    Assembly Member Lopez authored the bill which is now co-authored by Republican Assembly Member Rocky Chavez and Democrat Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia.

    The bill goes to Assembly Appropriations on Wednesday, May 11, at 9 am in Room 4202.  The merits of the bill as it regards to its financial impact  will be heard at that time. Because of its cost, AB1846, like any bill over 150,000, will be moved to the suspense file.
     There will be a suspense hearing later in the month.  If it passes through the suspense hearing, it will move to the Assembly floor.

    Here is the fact sheet, which outlines the bill, the reason it's needed, and its supporters:

    AB1846:   Restoration of Adult Education Funding

    BILL SUMMARY 

    This bill will permanently restore adult education funding by appropriating an additional $250 million dollars annual from the general fund.    

    For decades California has had the strongest commitment for adult education in the nation ensuring that adults have the ability to obtain the skills to enter the work force and/or pursue higher education.  

    During the start of the recent recession in 2008 adult education had begun to see significant cuts in funding, forcing thousands of students to discontinue their education. Several years later in 2013, after the first budget cuts, the legislature approved AB 86 which condensed the amount of programs offered and created 70 regional adult education consortiums which are made up of local community college and school districts.   According to the 2015 Adult Education Regional Planning report authored by the State Superintendent’s Office and California Community College Chancellor’s Office roughly 65 adult schools were permanently forced to shut their doors due to the fiscal constraints between the years of 2008 and 2013. The report goes on to argue that one challenge adult learners currently face is being able to attend classes that do not conflict with their work schedule. Over the years adult schools have been forced to reduce their hours of operation limiting essential resources for students such as computer labs and tutoring. This challenge has created a barrier and overcrowded class rooms creating a greater demand for available courses. 

    For example, in 2014 Los Angeles Unified School District waitlisted over 8,000 students with over 50% of waitlisted students seeking to enroll into English as a Second Language services.     
    The report continues giving several policy recommendations and making the strong case to provide restore funding to current services. With additional funding the report claims that the regional consortiums should explore the possibility of reopening adult schools that were once shut down.
      

    PROBLEM 

    As a state with who is home to over 10 million immigrants and 5.2 million adults without a high school diploma or GED, California must address its lack of adult education services. By not addressing this issue many communities will be without services to allow their families the opportunity to be engaged in civic participation and the workforce.  


    SOLUTION 

    AB 1846 will restore adult education to its previous funding of $750 million annually. This bill will appropriate funding to the adult education consortiums to build upon and restore services that they offer.       


    CONTACT Christopher Sanchez  Christopher.sanchez@asm.ca.gov 916-319-2039


    SUPPORTERS

    California Council for Adult Education (CCAE) 
    California Adult Education Administrators Association (CAEAA)
    California Federation of Teachers (CFT) 
    California School Employees Association (CSEA)
    Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations, Inc.
    Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
    Courage Campaign 
    Hacienda La Puente Unified School District 
    Los Angeles Unified School District 
    Montebello Unified School District 
    North Orange County Community College District
    Rancho Santiago Community College District 
    San Fernando Community Health Center
    Transparent
    United Teachers Los Angeles 
    Vision y Compromiso  

    Students at Los Angeles Adult School
    rally for AB1846


    Wednesday, May 4, 2016

    Comments on the Edsource Article

    A lot of information, insight, and wisdom is to be found in the comments on the Edsource article, "Bill Would Increase Funding for Adult Education by 250 Million." 

    As of Wednesday evening, May 4, 2016, here are the comments so far:


    Jae Woon Jeong:
    I came from Korea last year and have been studying English at Pacific Grove Adult School since January, 2016. This English course is such a great opportunity that I can brush up on my English in writing, speaking, reading, and listening. This course is really helpful and useful for me to become a member of this community.

    Lacie M.:
    AB 86 required agencies serving adult learners to “come together” to avoid duplication of effort and align and consolidate services. This occurred after devastating funding cuts that left deserving adult learners out in the cold (relying more and more on tax-payer supported benefits) without options for learning English or gaining necessary skills for work. Now the consortia is meant to provide these consolidated services, yet the issues mentioned in Ms. Frey’s story are daunting. Teacher qualifications for adult education vary widely throughout the country. Getting a CA Adult Education teaching credential is arduous and expensive. This keeps skilled teachers OUT of the classroom — especially those that might teach in career/technical education. Shouldn’t a recognized certificate or significant work experience in the field count as qualifications to teach adults? I’d rather hire a Master Mechanic to teach automotive technology who has fixed cars for 15 years over a freshly minted BA adult-ed credentialed teacher. The state needs to re-examine teacher requirements as it relates to teaching adults over the age of 18. Adult Education Matters! We need to support it with needed funds AND qualified teachers.


     David Breedlove:
    As an instructor involved in ‘Life Long Learning’ courses at both Community College and Adult Education levels on the Monterey Peninsula, I am concerned that I don’t see reference in this discussion to non-vocational and non-ESL offerings. Specifically, I refer to projects that should be more available in areas of interest to seniors, such as the Gentrain program at Monterey Peninsula College — a ‘humanities’ course — as well as others in technology areas.

    My understanding was that a discussion was under way to define who among the various levels of public education in California would be responsible for what areas of adult-ed/lifelong-learning. AB 1846 seems like the appropriate place for that discussion.

     Connie Pekedis:

    I agree that the additional funding is needed. We are currently receiving only a portion of what we received before the tier funding. For our district it is about 50% less than what we had before the recession. That means that we have cut the class time for all of our ESL and HSD classes. We have also discontinued our summer classes in ESL and HSD.

    The additional funding is also needed because if the costs go up and the money stays the same, then services are lost. For example, our adult teachers have not had pay raises since the recession. We have not been able to update materials for 8 years, and it goes on.

    We have the credentials that are appropriate for our students. In fact our credentials include classes in how to teach and work with adult students. A master’s degree in something like English does not include any classes in how to teach.

    As to the consortium – It will take at least 2 or 3 years to get all of them working. Also, out of the monies that are being given to the Adult Schools, some of that money is staying with the consortium to handle all the adult schools and colleges working together.

    Another point is that the AEBG (Adult Education Block Grant) has come with its own set of reporting requirements which will require either more staff time or additional staff to complete. I was recently told that the money is considered an “allocation,” but I have never seen an allocation with so many strings. It has requirements that are a combination of the WIOA and Perkins grants requirements. And not every adult school receives WIOA and/or Perkins money.

    Patty Lopez, thank you for putting forward this legislation – it is vital funding to support the students of our state.



    George Porter:

    Thanks to Ms. Frey for continuing to cover this important topic and I agree with Mr. Mears comments about the underfunding of adult ed. That said, the article fails to correct an alarming error in interpretation of the joint CDE/CCC report it mentions. The interpretation suggests that the fewer number of students being served today than before the recession is 800,000 while in fact it is at least 1 million and perhaps as high as 1.2 million.

    The discrepancy arises because the 2015 joint report (http://californiacommunitycolleges.cccco.edu/Portals/0/FlipBooks/2015-Adult-Education/2015_AB86_AdultEducation_ADA.pdf) only takes into account student populations currently funded through the AEBG. Before the recession the adult education apportionment supported 10 programs and three of these are simply ineligible for funding through the new source and two more have been severely restricted. Across the 3 years preceding the recession, in the K-12 adult school system alone these now decimated programs accounted for roughly 22.5% of a total enrollment hovering just above 1.2 million. That’s 270,000 students (http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/ae/po/cefadulted.asp).

    The vast majority of these students, especially older adults, are simply no longer served by the adult schools and new policies at the community colleges no doubt swell these numbers appreciably. Because they are no longer counted in our post-recession world, does that mean that these students no longer exist or that their educational needs have somehow disappeared?

    Clearly this is not the case.


    George Pursley:

    In the current budget, every other level (K-12, CSU, UC, CC) had their funding increased. The Adult Schools suffered more during the Great Recession cuts. It is on life support, where it still exists. A large part of its program is ESL for some of the poorest members of the community. and the need is greater than ever!


    G Roggeman:

    Pacific Grove Adult Education is an important part of our community. The services provided enhance the well being and quality of life of residents near and far.


    La Verne Baker Leyva:

    Thank you for covering important information re. Adult Education. Life-long learning benefits and ensures a healthier community for all of us. Adult Ed makes education accessible to folks who might otherwise not be able to attend classes and improve their quality of life. Thanks for the update on AB1846!


    Tanya R. Fadem:

    Thank you for covering this important topic!


    Portia La Ferla:

    Thank you for your coverage of this important topic. The adult schools are doing heroic work with threadbare funding. We have waiting lists of students that we cannot serve. Our facilities have been neglected since the economic crisis, and the current funding leave no room for improving them. The new model of consortium funding require extensive coordination and more data collection (beyond the extensive data on learning gains adult education agencies have been providing for many years), and curriculum development. These are important functions but their costs take away from funding for instruction. The unresolved issues that Debra Jones highlights need to be resolved at the state level, not by adult education providers. The wait and see attitude is jeopardizing the schools that remain.


    Heidi:

    All adults have a right and human need for education to expand themselves as people, to connect with others, to explore new fields of knowledge. It’s ignorant to assume that once someone graduates and gets a job that further education is unnecessary. Even though my school district, Sweetwater Union High School District, ended its Older Adults program, when I personally teach senior citizens art or English, I see that yearning in their eyes and burn in their spirit to learn more, to reach new heights as people, to connect with other students who share a common goal. Only those who prefer mass ignorance in people, boxing people into a worker role in society, could be against expanding adult ed.

    Kristen Pursley --  I so agree Heidi! The worker role is important, but if we focus too narrowly on that we miss out on some of the most important benefits a lifelong education can provide.

     
    Cynthia Eagleton:

    Thank you for covering Adult Education, the need for more funding, the issue of credentialing and AB1846.

    I think the importance of Adult Education can be measured by the strength and size of the movement to save and renew it after it was devastated by categorical flexibility.

    Adult School students, as a group, face more obstacles than students in any other branch of public education. Linguistic and economic challenges are the norm. There is no formal representation for Adult School/Ed students such as there is for UC students and other branches of Higher Ed. Until the final phase of the AB86 Workgroup, no Adult Education student in the history of California had ever sat on a state decision making body such as UC students do through the UC Regent system. And yet, in spite of their obstacles and in spite of the fact there was no formal means for them to speak, Adult School students have rallied – over and over – for years – to save their schools and programs and see them adequately funded. They circulated and signed petitions; organized and attended rallies; phone banked; wrote letters and emails; wore Red for Adult Ed, and did any number of other actions, all while dealing with numerous and very real challenges, often while being told that a good outcome was impossible, they were asking for too much, Brown would never agree to what they wanted.

    Similarly though not to the same extent, Adult School teachers did not have the kind of recognition and respect given other teachers in either the K-12 or the Higher Ed system. There is no Academic Senate for Adult School teachers, such as there is for Community Colleges. And similarly, when Adult School teachers tried to save their schools and programs or the state funding for the full mission of Adult Education, they were told they were asking for too much, that a good result was impossible, they should accept Brown’s terms – which at one point were that the system should be run by the Community Colleges – they should stop wasting their time trying to save what couldn’t be saved.

    Adult School administrators were put in the terrible position of having to decide what programs to cut, which teachers to lay off, and how to convince floundering K12 districts that they should not use the flexed Adult Ed funds to keep their K12 programs going. On their own time, they met with each other to share and create plans and strategies to keep their ships afloat, or in worst case scenarios, their lifeboats.

    In general, it was a terrible time.
    And yet, through it all, people did not give up. Students, staff, and administrators stubbornly kept saying, “Adult Education matters,” working in every way they could think of, to get that message to the public, the Legislature, the DOF, and Brown.
    Why would people do such a thing?
    Just to save their jobs? While an argument could be made for that – at least with administrators since they make more money and to some extent, for teachers, as well – there are plenty of cases where an industry has been devastated – the automobile industry comes to mind – and yet people did not continue to rally for it for years.
    People continue to work for something, even in the face of hardship, only when something really, really matters.

    And Adult Education does.
    Those of us who have been part of that movement don’t blink anymore when told that something is impossible. We have learned to understand that what the speaker really means, “It’s impossible for me to see it, either because I am against it on principle or because my deep-rooted hopelessness colors my perception of everything, not just this issue.”
    Those who struggle with real hardship know something else: Hopelessness is a luxury. It’s not the people at the bottom who are “hopeless.” It’s the people in the middle. When you’re at the bottom – which is where many in Adult Ed have been at some point in their lives – you know the value and power of hope and it’s handmaiden, hard work. Those are your oars. To give them up is to give up everything – something which, unlike those people suffering from bad food on cruise ships, or bad weather on a yacht, you cannot afford to do.
    Assembly Member Patty Lopez knows that. That’s why, even when folks thought it was impossible, she was elected to office. She’s not afraid of taking on challenges. She’s not looking for a sure thing. She’s looking for a good thing, something of true value that serves the people.
    Adult Education is definitely that.


    Jack Carroll:
    Adult Education presents an opportunity for improvement to many of our neighbors. Increased funding means increased opportunities. I believe that is something we can all agree with and I believe it is something we all want.

    Janet Johnson:
    How can the state justify keeping adult schools, which suffered more than any other branch of education during the recession years, in a state of perpetual want? With six million Californians in need of the basic literacy services adult schools provide, and only 1.5 million served by community colleges and adult schools together, there can be no justification for starving adult schools and leaving their students without services.

    We would like to be able to turn our determination and dedication away from the sheer struggle to survive day to day and towards giving our students what they need to thrive. AB 1846, if it passes, could give us what we need to do that.


    Alene Deyein:

    Providing adult education is key to helping our adults, and by extension their children, achieve success.


    Kristen Pursley:
    Thank you so much for covering this important topic. It’s important to realize that adult schools have been struggling to survive on inadequate funding for eight years — ever since 2008. From 2008 to 2013 funding for adult schools was in free fall under Categorical Flexibiity. When the state stepped in to save adult schools with a Maintenance of Effort mandate, it only required districts to fund their adult schools at whatever low rate they were funding them at in 2013, and that rate was locked in for two more years until the Maintenance of Effort expired in 2015. Then the Adult Education Block Grant continued the austerity by funding adult schools at the same rate their districts had been funding them in 2013. Adult school funding has been increased by not one penny since 2008, even though adult schools were very hard hit by the recession and every other branch of education has received an increase. Thank you to Patty Lopez for introducing AB 1846 to address this issue.





    Sunday, May 1, 2016

    Edsource Article: "Bill Would Increase Funding for Adult Education by $250 Million"

    Liv Ames for EdSource
    Hessam Ghajar, a recent immigrant from Iran, practices English with classmates in a San Mateo Adult School class.
    State legislators are considering a bill that would boost funding for adult education by $250 million – reinstating funds that were diverted to K-12 schools during the recession, causing many adult programs to close or cut back the number of classes they offered.

    “Every time I go back to my district, families ask when are the adult schools coming back, especially the English as a Second Language programs in local schools,” said Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, D-San Fernando, who has introduced Assembly Bill 1846 to increase funding. “There are 16,000 people on waiting lists for adult classes just in Los Angeles.”

    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 re-entering society.

    The state currently allocates $500 million a year to adult education in a block grant to local consortia made up of districts and community colleges, which both offer adult education programs. The consortia were created in 2013-14 to streamline programs and reduce duplication of efforts.
    The proposed budget for 2016-17 continues the $500 million for the adult education block grant. H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the state Department of Finance, said the department has not analyzed AB 1846 and at this point has not changed its recommendation.

    But a joint report by the California Department of Education and the California Community Colleges supports the need to reinstate funding, saying that adult schools are serving 800,000 fewer students today than before the recession.

    California must “restore and expand adult education program offerings across the state, and reinstate dedicated adequate funding for adult education programs,” according to a recommendation in the March 2015 report titled “Adult Education Regional Planning.”

    Debra Jones, dean of workforce and economic development at the California Community Colleges, said the chancellor’s office has not taken a position on the bill.

    “The need for more funding is huge,” Jones said, “but the consortia have been operating for only a year, and some of them would be better able to make use of the money than others.”

    Jones said there are also some unresolved issues – such as teacher requirements and fees for classes – that might make legislators and the governor hesitant to support an increase in funding for 2016-17.
    Currently, for-credit community college courses, such as some technology or business courses, require instructors to have a master’s degree. Others, such as English as a Second Language or basic vocational classes, require only a bachelor’s degree. School districts, on the other hand, require teachers to have an adult education credential, which includes courses beyond a bachelor’s degree but short of a master’s degree.

    The Community Colleges Academic Senate and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing are expected to release their recommendations regarding teacher requirements in July.

    Jones said there has been less movement on synchronizing a fee schedule. College credit courses are set at $46 a unit statewide, she said, and noncredit courses have no fees, other than for parking or books. Some district adult education programs are free, and others charge fees.

    In addition, she said, lawmakers “want to see outcomes. Are students getting jobs? Are they getting certificates? Are they transitioning to community college or four-year universities?” A report on student achievement will be issued in the fall, Jones said.

    In the meantime, advocates have created the Adult Education Task Force and have initiated a letter-writing campaign to legislators, saying the need is too great to wait another year.

    “Adult ed is woefully underfunded,” said John Mears, co-founder with Lopez of the task force. “In my view, the $250 million is just the tip of the iceberg of what we really need. One of the best things about adult ed is that almost anyone can get an education and get a chance.”