Friday, July 18, 2014

Seeing Us in the Picture and the Picture in Us

This post is directly primarily to my colleagues in Adult Ed but the blogs listed (about halfway down the page) are recommended for all.

A lot is going on in the world of education.

Two big teachers unions - the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have been debating Common Core, the head of the US Department of Education, charter schools, diversity in the teaching side of the classroom (it's far less than the class side for those who don't know), tenure, the Vergara decision, and a number of other things.   Many of their debates were public and all of their resolutions are.  You can read about NEA's call for Head Fed Ed Arne Duncan to resign here and AFT's call for him to submit to "improvement plan" or resign here.  You can see lots of the debates on the union websites and You tube including this speech by Rev William Barber:

Clearly, change is afoot in teachers unions.  And by afoot, I mean from the ground up, with calls for change not just in US administration and policy but union administration and policy, as well. 

Note: Many Adult Ed teachers, like myself, belong to CFT - the California Federation of Teachers - which is a branch of AFT.  In Los Angeles, the biggest Adult School in California, teachers belong to UTLA which is part of both AFT/CFT and NEA/CTA. 

Were those enough letters or did you want more alphabet soup?

Meanwhile, those of us in Adult Ed, especially in California, especially in K12 Adult Schools, have been focusing all on our energy on survival.

This is understandable.  

What we need to remember, however, as we organize within and between schools and programs, push for student and teacher inclusion in the Regional Consortia planning process, email and visit legislators, and ask the Governor and the Department of Finance for stable K12 Adult School funding... 

is the connection between what is happening in Adult Ed in California, especially K12 Adult Schools, and what is happening in education all across the country.

If we don't, we either won't succeed, or we'll succeed in the short run but fail in the long.

We must see and understand the changes in how education is funded, what is taught, what is valued, who is valued, and who does and doesn't benefit from these changes. 

This makes things twice as hard for us as for other branches of education.  It also makes it twice as clear that we need to be aware and speak up about what we know to be true because we have twice as much riding on it.  Our programs are not just at risk of being hugely altered, they are at risk of being eliminated.  Which it makes it doubly important that we bring news of this to the larger community because without knowledge of what is happening in Adult Ed, the folks in the other branches of Public Education may never see the full and larger picture.  We are the missing piece.

Yes, it's hard. 

Life is hard, sometimes.

In fact, mostly, on this planet, it has been... and still is for a good number of the people riding on it.

Sometimes I ponder how we are the branch of public education charged with teaching citizenship.

If we are not willing to practice responsible citizenship, which includes participation in democracy, what gives us the right to teach it?

We are also the branch of public education charged with teaching the folks with the most hurdles to get over - barriers of language, poverty, dis/ability, literacy, resources, etc.

If we, ourselves, are not willing to leap a few hurdles...  to risk overwhelm, injury, or failure in the trying... what gives us the right to ask others to do so? 

Yes, we can speak English and teach English.  But does that gives us the right to ask someone to try harder than we're willing to?

At some point, we in Adult Education have to ask ourselves:  What are we teaching and why?

Many in Adult Ed teach immigrants.  We teach ESL, Family Literacy, Job Skills, and Citizenship.


Because we "believe in" democracy and the "American Way"? 

Because we care about our students, see their struggles, and want to give them tools to succeed here?  But only so far - not so far as to ourselves actually engage in real citizenship, real democracy, real understanding of the world and how it works or to encourage our students to do the same? 

Because we like the backwater nature of our jobs, out of the fray of K12, with a little more freedom, a little less structure, a little more humanity - until we're asked to give something more of ourselves than teaching...  until we're asked to take the same sort of risks we ask our students to take...  to challenge ourselves, exercise self-discipline, and put into practice what we know will make things better?

I say again:  Yes, this is hard. 

It takes effort.  Risks must be taken and mistakes may be made. At times we may feel overwhelmed, frustrated, discouraged, angry, tired, confused, and scared - the same way Adult Ed students sometimes feel as they pursue their GEDs and High School Diplomas, learn English, master new job skills, and become citizens. 

The same way anyone doing anything of real worth feels as they move through discomfort and into the deep joy of meaningful accomplishment. 

It's all scary, unknown, and what could ultimately save us.

It's also not the first time humans have taken risks to make things better and we're not in this all alone.  There are many of us of working to save and rebuild Adult Ed.  Many of us working to save and strengthen Public Education.  And many more of us who can do so.

To show us more of the bigger picture so that we can see where we fit in it, here are some blogs by writers focusing more on the K12 side of things.  I've pulled quotes from some of them and I've added a few comments.

1.  Mercedes Schneider's blog Deutsch29.   Mercedes teaches school by day and at night apparently never sleeps because her blog is gobstoppingly amazing.  Research research and more research. Every i is dotted and t's are crossed.

The following post is in response to the discussion about Common Core at the AFT Convention.  Remember that Adult Ed is also going Common Core.  Already there are workshops at CCAE and Catesol Conferences about how to teach ESL the Common Core way.  And the GED is now Common Core.  And the GED being used in most of California (but not Los Angeles!) is the Pearson version.  It costs more and it certainly makes Pearson a few bucks.  As in many.  Here's the post:

And here's a quote to consider with my highlights:

So, to those teachers who are tempted to take AFT money in order to “”make CCSS better,” let me caution you that your work will become part of the CCSS that is ultimately locked into place and handed over to the likes of Pearson for nationwide marketing purposes.  Pearson plans to make itself indispensable and benefit handsomely from CCSS by offering assessments, curriculum to accompany those assessments, teacher development, and “data driven adaptive learning.”
Imagine how much better it will be for Pearson to be able to advertise that CCSS was “rewritten by teachers.”  That is a phenomenal selling point, not only for Pearson, but also for any influential, pro-CCSS individual taking to the cameras.

2. Anthony Cody's blog Living in Dialogue.  Anthony taught middle school science in Oakland for many years.  He started the Network for Public Education with Diane Ravitch. 

In this post, Common Core-Aligned Tests and the New Pearson GED: Failure By Design?, he discusses Pearson and the new GED.

Here's a quote:

So the key is that those who design the tests are making an intentional decision regarding how many students pass or fail. A 30% pass rate on Common Core tests is not some objective statement regarding how many students are ready for career and college. It is a predetermined outcome, which has a whole set of assumptions in it regarding what "college and career ready" means.

3.  Jose Luis Vilson's blog The Jose Vilson.  Jose teaches math in New York city.  He addresses many issues in his blog including issues of race, class, and gender.  This is a topic often left out of discussions about Adult Education even though race, class, and gender has a great deal to do with who is in our classrooms and why and who will be there in the future and what is taught to them and why.  Never forget that California is the 8th largest economy in the world.  Whatever happens here, someone, somewhere, is making money.  California is a "majority-minority" state with Latinos outnumbering whites.  Issues of race, class, and gender make it all the more important that student voice is included in planning the new Regional Consortia.  Students reflect the reality of who California is and is becoming far more than admin or teachers do.

Here's a post by Jose Luis on teacher diversity:

4.  Professor Vasquez Heileg's blog Cloaking Inequality.  Prof JVH was at the University of Texas at Austin but is now on his way to Sacramento where he will be a Full Professor and Director of the Educational Leadership at California State at Sacramento.   It was at the panel on Research and Advocacy at the Network for Public Education conference in Austin, that I learned from Prof JVH why there is often muted, mumbled, or absolutely no outcry from academics on what is happening to public education.  Just as we in Adult Education fear reprisal or job loss for speaking up about what is happening in Adult Ed, so do the folks in higher ed.  I don't know why I thought it would be any different.  We're talking about human beings here.  Yes, there are "rules."  Yes, there is free speech, tenure, and an agreed on value for the "truth."  But what actually happens is often a different story. 

You can read the blog post that was the basis for his remarks at the NPE panel here:

Prof JVH's wisdom did something else for me:  It made me hopeful.  If Prof JVH can be truthful about what is happening in Public Education, so can other academics.  Maybe academics focused on Adult Education.  It would be hugely helpful if they did so.

In the meantime, I can be truthful.

Like those silent academics, I fear rebuff and reprisal.

I also know if I'm not willing not to speak...  if I'm not willing to take a risk and share what I know and see... If I'm not willing to work as hard as I ask my students to work... If I'm not willing to risk rejection, failure, and fear...

not only do I not have the right to ask my students to take such risks...

I don't have the right to expect anything to change for the better - for Adult Ed, for Public Ed, for me.

Things really are at a crisis point in Public Education - especially in Adult Education. 

That doesn't mean everything will end badly.

Crisis, as we all know, is opportunity.

But it does mean that if I want a good outcome, I need to make an effort for one.

I need to think toward it, risk toward it, work toward it.

Change includes me.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The No Lawmaker Left Behind Campaign

Remember this?

Well, now we have this!

the No Lawmaker Left Behind Campaign!

The mission: Connect with every legislator in the state.

The message: Restore full, secure funding for adult & career education in California.

Why?  Because K12 Adult Schools have no funding past March 2015.  Yes, they are part of the new Regional Consortia but they have no secure funding.  Without such funding, there is no guarantee that the districts which anchor them can continue to do so and no guarantee that they will get adequate funding through the Regional Consortia system.  The RC system was a compromise between the old system and sweeping all Adult Ed into the Community College system and it's tilted toward the Community Colleges.  K12 Adult Schools cannot survive unless they are part of the RC system but Community Colleges go on, regardless.  Community Colleges are funded through apportionment.  K12 Adult School funds were flexed (made available to K12 districts) and even that flexed funding is ending... as noted... in March 2015.

So... K12 Adult Schools need secure funding!

In response to this very serious situation, Grassroots, CFT, CCAE are all making an effort to reach the Legislature, the Governor, and the Department of Finance. 

The NLLB Campaign is a statewide, grassroots effort to connect people to the people who represent them. 

Democracy in action.  The best and in the end,
the only real means to moving forward together as a people.

How does it work?

1.  Find your Legislators

2.  Visit them in their District Offices.  They are in there in July and early August.   Aides are good, too!

3.  Talk to them about Adult Education.  Tell them K12 Adult Schools need secure funding.

Tell them what you know about why Adult Education matters to you and your community.  Are you a student or former student?  The family member of a student?  How has Adult Ed helped you and your community?

Tell them about the situation in your community now.  Is Adult Ed available?  How badly was it cut?  How are things going in the rev-up to the new Regional Consortia system?   What does your community need to thrive?

Remind them that over 70 Adult Schools have been closed since the 2009 and all were cut.  Remind them that once the "MOE" - Maintenance of Effort - Clause runs out - there is no funding for K12 Adult Schools.  Remind them that California has the 8th largest economy in the world.  We can afford to educate our adults - and we need to!

Share your concerns with them.  What is it you most need?  What is that you know from lived experience? 

Ask them about their concerns.  What do they need to know, to understand? 

Take advantage of this opportunity to have a conversation. In order to save and rebuild Adult Education, we need to work together.  In order to work together, we need to understand each other.  This is how we avoid polarization and move forward.

Give them contact information for you and/or your school.  Invite them to visit a class or event.

You can give them this one sheet handout about the NLLB Campaign and the call to restore secure funding or you can give materials of your own making.

Finally, take a moment to fill out this questionnaire about your visit with the NLLB Campaign.

We'll track the visits made around the state on this map of schools and lawmakers.

We'll look to see where visits have been made and where they haven't - and need to be - and we'll report all this back to you on a website coming soon.  This is a work in progress and we're working as hard and fast as we can to make it happen.

For more information on NLLB or to share your ideas or feedback, email

L to R: John Mears, ESL teacher and Adult Ed activist at West Valley Occupational Center;
Alejandro Carmona, Adult Ed student from Costa Rica; and Alejandro's wife, Artemis;
on a visit with Andre Hollings, field representative for Assemblymember Scott Wilk.
 If you are comfortable sharing a photo of visit, email it to
to share and inspire others.
And remember to wear Red for Adult Ed on Tuesdays!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

LA Fam Lit Under the Knife Again

LA Family Literacy, the program just saved through grassroots action, is under the knife again.

LAUSD is slated to purge all teaching staff at 5 Family Literacy sites & close the other.
From their website:

How You Can Help

Please Send a Message to LAUSD:

Keep The Same Sites and the Same Staff;

Purging The Staff Will Destroy the Program

Please support the LA Family Literacy Program by contacting Supt. John Deasy and members of the Board of Education, who promised to preserve this exemplary and nationally recognized program. (Contact information below).
Tell them that the program must keep all sites open. Further, the program depends on the experience and trust of its talented and well-trained staff. Removing all the individuals who have been serving this program will assure the program’s death.
Tell District officials they must continue the program in the same locations and with the same staff, giving staff members the opportunity to upgrade their training as needed.

Hit the "read more" link to learn more.

Monday, July 14, 2014

From CCAE: Legislative Talking Points

From CCAE - California Council for Adult Education:

FY 15-16 Legislative Talking Points


Background: Understanding all the Issues

It is absolutely critical that legislators (and their staff) hear directly from their constituents about the looming risk for their local adult schools to be able to continue to provide services to those most at risk in their communities.


While we are all engaged in the development of local regional consortium plans as provided under AB 86 (2013), the concern for the future existence of K12 adult schools is at an all-time high.  The two-year maintenance of effort (MOE) as provided for in the 2013 budget is set to expire July 1, 2015.  Unfortunately, after that date there is no funding currently available to support K12 based adult education – despite the regional consortia process.  That process only deals with planning for the future, but entails no funding or clarity regarding how funding will be provided to continue to support adult education. 


Current thinking by the Governor Brown Administration and Department of Finance (DOF) is to provide funding to the community college system to fund regional plans developed at the local level.  While we wholeheartedly support the regional coordination and planning, based on identified needs, gaps, and effective services, the absence of identified and dedicated funding for K12 adult schools puts these critical resources at great risk.  In this model, school districts are not provided any certainty to plan for the existence of adult school programs ahead of finalizing their budgets for FY 15-16, much less before the March 15th lay-off notices must be delivered. 


In this regard, it is critical that the Administration and DOF be clear in its January 2015 budget plan that dedicated funding will be provided to K12 districts for their adult education programs based on the plans developed in each region.  These plans will drive the funding, but the actual dollars must be disseminated to school districts directly in order to ensure the stability, certainty and essential funding in order to maintain K12 adult education, as well as to avoid unnecessary wasteful additional overhead for pass through funding.


Dedicated funding for K12 Adult Schools needs to be clearly provided for in the January 2015 budget plan secured and cannot wait for the consortium plans to be fully developed. 

Hit the "read more" link to learn more.

From CCAE: Myths & Facts about 15-16 Budget and Adult Ed

From CCAE - the California Council of Adult Education

FY 15-16 Budget Myth vs. Fact


Myth #1:    The Governor has promised $500 million to fund adult education ongoing.

Fact:     The $500 million figure was put forth in the FY 13-14 budget discussions.  To date, there are no commitments to maintain the $500 million level of funding for adult education in FY 15-16 –  may be more or less, there is only a vague commitment to provide some level of funding (no specific number at this time).


Myth #2:     The AB 86 regional consortia budget trailer bill contained funding for adult education.

Fact:      AB 86 process only provided $25 million for planning purposes no programmatic funding was included.


Myth #3:    LCFF funds can be used for adult education.

Fact:    While LCFF does not prohibit the use of LCFF funds for adult  education, the structure of LCFF focuses on the K-12 student and given the funding thresholds to be achieved per student under the framework, school districts will inevitably have to use all funds for K-12 purposes in order to meet the goals and standards under LCFF.


Myth #4:       The Maintenance of Effort (MOE) under the FY 13-14 budget ensured school districts must continue to fund adult education.

Fact:   The MOE required school districts who were funding adult education in FY 12-13 to continue the same level of funding for  adult education for two years until FY 15-16.  Currently, beginning in FY 15-16, there will be no funding for K-12 adult education.


Myth #5:        The Brown Administration wants to shift the responsibility of a    education to the community college system.

Fact:      While the Brown Administration continues to suggest that the are  supportive of a dual-delivery system for adult education, their current thinking is to create “one unified statewide system.”  In this regard, they do not care who delivers the programs and  services, but want all of the funding and oversight to be managed out of the Community College Chancellor’s office at the state level.  This is highly dangerous for K-12 adult schools in that it provides not stability or certainty to school districts regarding the future of adult schools.

Myth #6:           Our goal is to return California Adult Schools to pre-2007 funding  formulas, program practices and priorities.
Fact:            The Strategic Plan for Adult Education, Legislative Analyst's Office Report, Governor's actions and the impact of Maximum Flexibility have all made it clear that there will be no returning to business as usual in the pre-2007 world of adult education.  The Regional Consortia process will be instrumental in identifying adult education needs and driving long term funding decisions.  Meanwhile, literacy instruction, short term Career and Technical Education, high school  credit recovery and programs for the disabled have repeatedly been identified as current priorities and appropriate specializations for California Adult Schools.  In addition, funding distributions will be more closely tied to student progress.

Myth #7:     The Regional Consortia timeline will provide funding decisions time to prevent adult schools from being shut down in 2015-16.
Fact:  Reasonable assurance of adult school funding must appear in the January release of the Governor's 15-16 Budget Plan.  Without this  reassurance, school districts will not have adequate sources of  funding to keep their adult schools open and will have to issue March 15 and May 15 layoff notices to adult school staff throughout the state. Since the final Regional Consortia report is not due to the  state until March 1, 2015, the report cannot be studied and  processed in time to prevent massive layoffs and adult school closures.  Laid off educators will need to quickly pursue other employment and thus the educational infrastructures that took years to assemble will disintegrate.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Light at the End of the Tunnel: Marco's Report from the ACCEL Partners Meeting

Report from San Mateo Adult School ESL Student Council President Marco:
On Thursday July 10th, the ACCEL planning committee and consortium partners took part in a very important meeting. 
The headquarter was the San Mateo Adult School, to be more specific it was in The Smart Center. 
Waoo!  That was like bringing "The All Star players" all under the same roof, which makes sense.
More than a game was about to begin. The future of Adult Education and the way it'll be delivered for the next years to come is in process. 
Unexpectedly, some students were invited, including myself.  For me, it was like a reward for the hard work our student council has been doing the last years, promoting Adult Education. 
It was a great opportunity to let them know our needs and  goals.  A few of us did it.  One of the organizers asked me if l was involved in the survey that was done in our school, and she kindly thanked me for that. She said they will take a look at it.
I'd like to mention that including us in this planning would be very helpful.  I mean, what would be better than hear directly from us, the people they are trying to serve.
Our future depend on this planning we need to know what it is going on. 
Last year I attended The Town Hall meeting in Oakland, California.  It was about the  AB86, which for me was like entering into a dark tunnel that nobody knew what was at the other end.  After this RC meeting, I could see some light  and hope at the end of that tunnel. 
However, I still have unanswered questions. For example, will students without legal documents be excluded?  Will there be an age limit??
Overall, the meeting was  full of useful information, which definitely will help us to consider our opinions. 
Special thanks to all participants, for planning and working from the heart to make Adult Education even better. 
Student Council President Marco

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tell the Governor! Tell the Legislature! We Need Our Own Wallet!

Have you signed yet?

Want to know why signing is a good idea?

Check out this newsletter from Adult Ed Advocates in the Montebello Community:

SMAS Student Council President
and this legislative update from CCAE

Essentially, K12 Adult Schools are very vulnerable. 

Funding runs out for K12 Adult Schools in 2015-16.

What will happen then?

As Hitomi says in this video, we need our own wallet.

You can send that message to every legislator and Governor Brown

when you go HERE and sign the Petition to Restore Protected Funding for K12 Adult Education.

Your signature - and comment! - is sent to every legislator and Governor Brown when you sign. 

Yes, it makes a difference. 

Legislators - and the Governor - need and want to know what people want.

So if you think Adult Education matters and you think K12 Adult Schools need their own wallet, tell them so!

Here's the petition:

Restore protected funding for K-12 Adult Education in California

To be delivered to The California State House, The California State Senate, and Governor Jerry Brown

Petition Statement

Add Adult Education to the list of non-flexible categoricals within the Local Control Funding Formula

Petition Background
Adult Education has been serving California for over 150 years, but in the last five years it's been cut to the bone. The Local Control Funding Formula puts Adult Schools at risk for further school closures because it does not provide designated funding for Adult Education. Adult Education empowers marginalized communities and creates a ripple effect that includes better community health, greater school success for children, stronger families, and reduced recidivism. It provides job training to put Californians back to work. The new Local Control Funding Formula for K-12 Public Education can safeguard Adult Education if it includes Adult Ed as one of the non-flexible categoricals - and then Adult Education can safeguard our state. Your signature supports this effort and tells our elected officials that Adult Education Matters!