Friday, August 22, 2014

The Truth Is K12 Adult Schools Need Dedicated Funding

The December 2012 LAO - Legislative Analyst Office - Report on Adult Education has served in many ways as a template for reform in Adult Education.

(Click here to read the report:  Restructuring California's Adult Education System.)

But one important recommendation - to reinstate Adult Education as a categorical when flexibility ends in June of 2015 - has been ignored.

Reinstating Adult Ed as a categorical may or may not be a viable option.  Many think it's not politically possible. 

But the ever-increasing number of signatures on the Restore Protected Funding for K-12 Adult Education Petition, CCAE's Legislative Update and Call to Action Webinar, and grassroots action around the state all make one thing clear:

K12 Adult Education needs a stable source of funding separate from the community college system.

Within the Regional Consortia system, both Community Colleges and K12 Adult Schools are mandated to provide Adult Education, but only Community Colleges have secure funding. And they will continue to have secure funding because their funding exists independent of the Regional Consortia system.  They have apportionment (this is what their funding is called).  They are secure.  On top of their apportionment money, they may get extra money for Adult Education - which may come in through the Community College Chancellor's Office.

K12 Adult Schools are not secure.  K12 Adult Schools are not safe.  K12 Adult Schools have been mandated to do a job but haven't been given the means to do the job and can't properly prepare to do it, given the fact they don't know what the future holds.

This is the plain truth.
It is a also a truth some folks have danced around when asked to explain how K12 Adult Schools can survive this challenge.  And it is a truth that has sometimes created division amongst Adult Ed advocates in their desperation to figure out a way to save K12 Adult Schools.

It is not, however, a truth which K12 Adult Schools or their advocates created.

It is just a truth they must face...  that K12 Adult Schools, themselves, need stabilizing if they are to continue on as the stabilizing fourth leg of California's Public Education system.

In what form that stability will come - a return to categorical status, some new form of dedicated funding specific to K12 Adult Schools, or some other way - we don't know. 

We just know if it doesn't happen, more K12 Adult Schools will collapse, which will destabilize our public education system, economy, and social stability.

This December 2012 Edsource article provides helpful information.   I've highlighted the section with quotes from Paul Steenhausen, who wrote the LAO Report.

California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office says the state’s embattled adult education system needs a dedicated and permanent funding stream that can’t be appropriated for other school programs when the state budget goes south.
Restructuring California’s Adult Education System calls for the state Legislature to restore adult education as a categorical program. Adult Ed advocates lauded the proposal, even though it relies on funding that is speculative and requires a commitment from legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown that they have so far not shown.
Adult schools are an important strand in the state’s safety net, offering community-based classes to some of the state’s neediest adults, ranging from the unemployed, the disabled and the elderly to ex-offenders reentering society, immigrants trying to learn English and become citizens, and high school dropouts seeking to earn their GEDs.
Until the 2008-09 academic year, adult education was funded through one of the dozens of categorical programs that could be used only for their stated purpose. But as part of the February 2009 state budget plan, legislators approved what’s known as “categorical flex,” giving school districts the authority to use funds from 40 categorical programs, including adult education, for any educational purpose.
Chris Nelson, State President of the California Council for Adult Education. Photo courtesy CCAE. (Click to enlarge)
The LAO report says that move signaled “adult schools’ lower priority within the K-12 system.” Since then, local school boards have funneled as much as 70 percent of statewide adult ed funds to support K-12 programs, according to Chris Nelson, president of the California Council for Adult Education.

At least 35 programs have shut down as a result, and many of the 300 remaining programs are operating on shoestring budgets. Altogether, the LAO estimates that in 2011-12, the state and federal governments spent about $400 million on district-run adult schools, down from $854 million before flex started.

Many community colleges also offer adult education classes, spending about $1.7 billion last year, according to the LAO, but the colleges take that money from their regular state funding and not from separate categorical accounts.

Categorical flex is due to expire at the end of the 2014-15 school year, and the LAO is recommending that starting in 2015-16 adult education be restored as a categorical program with a dedicated funding stream. The program is a good candidate for restoration of funds, said Paul Steenhausen, who wrote the LAO report, because it reaches a distinct, underserved population.

“Adult education is a different animal,” Steenhausen said. Because it doesn’t serve K-12 students, it is “fundamentally different from other categoricals.”

However, many observers believe that the current level of flexible funding will continue beyond 2014-15 unless Gov. Brown convinces the Legislature to reconfigure the school finance system using a weighted student formula (WSF). Under this approach, money would follow the student, so schools enrolling students with greater needs, such as English learners and those from low-income families, would receive more funds. When Gov. Brown first proposed WSF last January, he didn’t support separate funding for adult education, leading advocates to oppose it.

Even the recent passage of Proposition 30, which increases funding to schools through a combination of a small sales tax increase and higher income taxes on the wealthiest Californians, has not revived support for adult education, according to Nelson.

“We’re still hearing that programs are being threatened with being cut more,” Nelson said. “I have not heard of anybody who has said they’re going to get an increase because of Prop. 30.”
Roadmap to restructuring Adult Ed, California Legislative Analyst’s Office. (Click to enlarge)
Instead, Nelson said he believes that school districts will be under pressure to use increased revenues to provide raises for teachers. “We’re all fighting for every little dollar, and it’s unfortunate how this has played out – one program against another.”

Nelson described the situation in Sonoma County, which had 11 adult education schools a few years ago, but has only one remaining program, in Petaluma. That program is being inundated by prospective students from all over the county. Nelson expects that Petaluma, which doesn’t have the capacity to serve so many people, will soon have to restrict its program to city residents.

One reason adult education may lack support from some legislators is the program’s uneven distribution across the state. Adult ed schools are more common in urban than rural communities.
The LAO report addresses this issue. The LAO is predicting that as the economy improves, the state will soon be receiving more funds that must be spent on K-14 education. The report recommends that some of this new money should be allocated to adult education based on regional needs and the ability of districts, colleges and local businesses to work as a team to avoid duplication of services and provide smooth pathways for students to jobs and college. The LAO also recommends that funding be allocated based on student outcomes – such as how many successfully complete courses – the way federal funds are now distributed.

But, finally, “the bigger issue is how is adult ed going to get funded,” Nelson said. “The LAO does recommend designated funding for adult ed, and that’s very key.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

K12 Adult Schools: Blueprints for Civic Action

This week the Final Report of the K-12 Task Force on California Civic Learning was released.

The purpose of the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning, co-chaired by Justice Judith McConnell and Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David Gordon, was to ensure that Californians have the skills to participate in work, community, and civic life in the 21st century.

I was struck by the title: "Revitalizing K-12 Civic Learning in California:  A Blueprint for Action."
In so many ways, K-12 Adult Schools, in both form and function, are just such a blueprint.

Hit the "read more" link to learn why.

Include Teachers in the RC Planning Process

Here is a letter to CDE (California Department of Education) Superintendent from the presidents of the two largest teachers unions, CFT (California Federation of Teachers) and CTA (California Teachers Association) urging him to include teachers in the planning process for the new Regional Consortia system.
The letter is from April of 2014 - so it is not new - but I had not included it on this blog before and one purpose of the blog is to be a library of information which others can use in our work to save and rebuild Adult Education, especially K12 Adult Schools. 


Adult Education, like every branch of public education but even more so, is being re-formed.  It is being pruned and trimmed so that it grows in new directions.
Because public education is for the public and paid for by the public, we all need to be in on what is happening.   Including teachers is one way to make sure that happens.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Data and Decisions: 2011 Little Hoover Report

The following testimony was given in 2011.  I am posting it here because I think it contains important data and important conclusions.  You can agree or argue with the conclusions.  You can use the data to better understand where we've come from and decide where we should best go next.

California Department of Education,
Adult Education Testimony Little Hoover Commission 
Respectfully submitted by Dr. Patrick Ainsworth,
Director of Secondary, Career, and Adult Learning Division
and Ms. Debra Jones, Administrator, Adult Education Office June 23, 2011 

Thank you for the opportunity to address the Little Hoover Commission and to share the vital issues surrounding adult education and the impacts of the current budget reductions. Adult Education has a long history in California serving adults since 1856. The first classes were taught in the basement of Old St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco to Chinese immigrants. Since that time, the program has grown, and in 2008 adult education served 1.2 million adults. 

The current fiscal crisis has impacted hundreds of thousands of adults in California. Flexibility has redirected the Adult Education budget of 634 million dollars to the kindergarten through grade twelve (K–12) system to be used for any educational purpose. School districts and school boards have had to make difficult decisions in this time of limited resources. It is estimated that half of the 2011 adult education budget was spent on adult education.  

Hit the "read more" link to get the full scoop.

CCAE Call to Action Webinar

CCAE - California Council of Adult Education - held a Legislative Update and Call to Action Webinar on July 31.

You can listen to the Webinar in full by going to the Legislative page of the CCAE website and clicking on the blue box that says, "Legislative Update and Call to Action Webinar."

Follow the instructions - you will need to download a few things - and in a few minutes you will be able to see and hear CCAE Legislative Analyst Dawn Koepke walk you through the CCAE strategy.

It's an excellent webinar and Ms. Koepke explains things very clearly.

The CCAE Legislative page also includes

2015–16 Budget Timeline
2015–16 Budget Myth vs. Fact
2015–16 Budget Sample NASCAR Letter
2015–16 Budget Talking Points
CCAE Section Legislator Responsibilities

all of which you can click on and download from this page or the CCAE website.

I highly recommend that you watch the webinar and download the CCAE documents.

Already on the AEM blog:

CCAE Legislative Talking Points

CCAE Myths & Facts

Getting to the Finish - includes the CCAE Budget Timeline

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Getting to the Finish

This is it, folks.  The last leg of our marathon.

The money for K12 Adult Schools runs out in June of 2015.

We have until January - really, it needs to happen before then - to convince Governor Brown, the Department of Finance and the Legislature that K12 Adult Schools need their own secure funding source.  Yes, we have a new Regional Consortia system.  But without secure funding, the future is mightily uncertain for K12 Adult Schools.

Everyone who cares about Adult Ed and K12 Adult Schools - grassroots groups, CCAE, CFT, CTA, UTLA, etc. - is going to be doing all they can - calling, visiting, and emailing the Gov, DOF, and Legislators, pulling together NASCAR letters, connecting with community and communicating in creative ways the message:

Adult Education matters!

K12 Adult Schools need their own secure funding!

And for many of us:  Keep the mission of Adult Ed broad! 

Strategies may differ slightly but the end goal is the same: 

A good future for our people
         through good public Adult Education.

Here's a budget timeline kindly provided by CCAE:

Fiscal Year 15-16 Budget Timeline

July 1, 2014 Fiscal Year 14-15 Budget Takes Effect

July – December 2014 Development of the Governor’s FY 15-16 Budget Proposal

State & Local-Based Adult Education Advocacy

Public Relations Campaign

October 1, 2014 Deadline for Local Meetings & Nascar Letters to be Submitted

November 4, 2014 General Election

December 1, 2014 Beginning of 2015-16 Legislative Session

January 5, 2015 Legislature Reconvenes for 2015-16 Legislative Session

January 10, 2015 Release of the Governor’s FY 15-16 Budget Plan

(within a couple days or so)

January – May 2015 Budget Subcommittee Hearings & Decision-Making

March 15, 2015 School District Lay Off Notice Deadline

March 24, 2015 CCAE & CAEAA Leg Day at the Capitol

**Budget Advocacy & Focus – Be There, Strength in Numbers!

June 15, 2015 Constitutional Legislative Budget Deadline

July 1, 2015 FY 15-16 Budget Takes Effect

Here are some of the strategies for getting us to our goal:

*  A4CAS's - Alliance for California Adult School's - strategy

CCAE's  (California Council of Adult Education) - strategy

CFT's (California Federation of Teachers Union) strategy

CTA's (California Teacher Association) strategy

NLLB's (No Lawmaker Left Behind) strategy (part of A4CAS)

UTLA's (United Teachers of Los Angeles) strategy

Full disclosure:   I work with A4CAS (Alliance for California Adult School).  I am on the steering committee for NLLB (No Lawmaker Left Behind).    I am a member of CFT (California Federation of Teachers union) and CCAE (California Council of Adult Education).   And I work at San Mateo Adult School.

If you look closely you will see while the approaches may differ in style and scope they all have the following things in common:

* Connect with the Governor and Legislature
* Get the message out that Adult Education matters
* Stories and data - heart and mind - both are important
* K12 Adult Schools need their own wallet

SMAS Student Leader Hitomi getting the message out:
K12 Adult Schools need secure funding!

My personal thoughts and observations:

* Wearing Red for Adult Ed on Tuesdays - unifies & amplifies
* Being organized in multiple ways - hard but helpful
* Sharing data so that all can access and use for good - multiplies the good
* Connecting with community, press, legislature - turns the tide
* Respecting different approaches - sustains
* Staying out of blame and accusation - rejuvenates
* Staying in support and respect - strengthens
* Understanding we share the goal of saving and strengthening public Adult Education because we share the larger goal of wanting a good future for our people - empowers

* And when you're tired and worn out, consider these guys:

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Jeff Glasbrenner, Andre Slay and Chris Madison cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon 2014.
Glasbrenner ran Boston in 2013 but didn't get to finish because of the bombings.

We can do this. 
Yes, together, we most definitely can.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Why Do K12 Adult Schools Need Funding?

The following post is taken entirely from the "Save Your Adult School" blog.  I copied and shared it here because I'm afraid if I just include a link, people won't click on it.  The post lays out in a clear way why K12 Adult Schools need secure, stable funding.   It absolutely bears reading and consideration.

Why California’s Adult Schools Need Dedicated Funding

In less than a year, on July 1, 2015, the current mechanism for funding California’s adult schools expires. There is no clear plan as to how the system will be sustained after that. Adult schools and community colleges are currently engaged in a regional planning process to create consortia between adult schools and community colleges, with the regions defined by community college districts. Governor Brown has indicated an intention to provide money through the community colleges to fund the regional consortia, which would include adult schools. The funding would come through the Community College Chancellor’s Office, not through the Department of Education. The governor and the finance department favor this model because it simplifies the budgets of K-12 schools, clearing the way for the Local Control Funding Formula. The educational needs of California’s adults were not considered at all when this model was adopted, and, not surprisingly, the model would serve them poorly. California’s adult schools need dedicated funding. It is the only way we can assure that the educational needs of California’s adults will be met.

The consortia are a compromise. Governor Brown’s original plan was to dissolve the adult schools in 2013 and give over all of adult education to the community colleges. Strong public advocacy deterred him from this course, and the consortia are designed to preserve the “dual delivery system” (adult schools and community colleges) while bringing the two systems more into alignment. Two of the strongest arguments for retaining adult schools were that 1) adult schools are more accessible for many California adults than community colleges and 2) adult schools support the mission of K-12 schools. These are also strong arguments for providing dedicated funding for K-12 adult schools.
California’s adult schools need dedicated funding for the following reasons:

Create Equity within the Consortia: California’s adult schools need dedicated funding yesterday to be able to negotiate as equal partners with community colleges within the consortia. Adult schools have now gone through half of the two-year consortium planning process in a “one-down” position; for adult schools, everything is riding on the consortia, while for the community colleges, nothing is. Community colleges will continue to receive funding whether the consortia work out or not. Meanwhile, under the current plan, all the money for the consortia will come through the community colleges.
Asking two parties to go “partners” when one party has all the power does not create a real partnership. It’s more like a process of subjugation, and ripe for abuse. This is not to say that I am aware of any overt misuse of their power by the community colleges within the consortia; in fact, the ones I have come into contact with seem genuinely willing to collaborate. But structurally, the potential for bullying is there; in fact, the structure itself is something of a bully. Chances are great that adult schools, already cowed by years of mistreatment by the state government and their school districts, are already censoring themselves when they feel their opinions might displease the community colleges, even when they feel they should advocate for the needs of their students.

It is now unlikely that adult schools will have dedicated funding before the consortia planning process is complete. However, if the state is serious about the consortia, they will have to be an ongoing process. If you really want a system that meets regional needs, the planning process can’t be “one and done”. The needs of a region are dynamic, and the dialog between adult schools and community colleges as to how to best serve the educational needs of adults in their service areas needs to continue long after 2015 if the consortia are to succeed. Once adult schools have their own funding, the negotiations will be more equal, and have better outcomes for California’s adult students.

Assure Adequate and Equitable Funding for Adult Schools: If all money for the consortia is to come through the community colleges, what is to prevent the community colleges from spending all or most of the money on their own needs first? Every branch of education in California is underfunded and cash-strapped, even with the relief provided by Proposition 30, so community colleges are likely to spend the money in this way in the absence of strong directives to do otherwise. The best way to make sure adult schools receive funding is to provide dedicated funding for them, relieving community colleges of the difficult (or not!) decision as to whether fund adult school programs or their own.
After 2015 we have no definite plan to fund adult schools, only a sketchy intention by the governor to provide funding through the consortia. The governor’s statement of this intention is extremely brief, and doesn’t say anything about how the funds would be distributed, or whether there would be any assurances that at least some of the money would go to adult schools. The state likes to be coy about what will happen after 2015, saying that funding levels and mechanism will be based on the consortium planning reports. Since there are 70 consortia, it is hard to see how this could result in a coherent statewide funding system, but that is what the state has been saying. For the inequality built into the consortium planning process, with adult schools at a severe disadvantage due to their lack of dedicated funding, see above.

Red Herring Alert: In discussions of funding through the consortia, one often hears the argument that the community college does not have to be the fiscal agent for its consortium. It could be an adult school, or even some other entity! This goes along with the assurance that the fiscal agent is just a “banker”; they just hold and disperse the money. Fact: In most consortia, the community college is the fiscal agent. For a possible explanation of why that might be, see above regarding the unequal position of adult schools within the consortia. It is true, however, that the fiscal agent is just a banker. It doesn’t matter who the fiscal agent it; what’s important is who decides how the money gets spent. That would not be the fiscal agent, whether it is the community college or an adult school.

Keep Adult Education Accessible: If all money for adult education is routed through the community colleges, as the governor intends, and there are no guarantees that some or any of the money must be spent on adult schools, adult education in California will become much more inaccessible. Adult schools are more accessible than community colleges in a variety of ways. For one thing, there are more of them; there are 112 community colleges in California, and about 300 adult schools. Community colleges tend to be located in large urban areas; smaller cities and rural areas far from the nearest community college may be served by an adult school. While all California community colleges and adult schools are now joined in consortia, some of those consortia must cover vast areas, as there are large counties in California where no community colleges are located.

Additionally, adult schools are often more decentralized within their service area than community colleges. With some exceptions, community college students are expected to go to the college campus for services. Adult schools go where their students are, setting up classes at the elementary schools attended by their students’ children, the churches where their students worship, or community centers where their students go for services. Even the parking fees at community colleges are a barrier for some students, who do not find this obstruction at their adult school site.
If all money for the consortia comes through the community colleges, and the community colleges are allowed to spend consortium money on their own needs first, the adult schools within their consortium area are likely to wither away, leaving California’s adults with much less access to education. To keep adult education accessible, the state needs to commit to dedicated funding for adult schools.

Ensure that Needs of Adult School Students are Met. Adult school students are often very different from community college students, though they may become community college students in time. They may be older students who are not comfortable in the more youthful community college environment. They may be immigrants with little or no formal education in the home country who need to get used to doing academic work. They may have very limited English, and need time to acquire the English they need to function well in daily life in the U.S., let alone do academic work. They may be native born students who need to acquire basic skills before they can tackle more difficult learning tasks. These are among some of California’s most vulnerable adult learners, and an important gateway into education would be closed to them if adult schools were to dry up for lack of funding.

Assure Continued Adult Schools Support for the K-12 Mission: Adult schools belong in K-12 districts because they support K-12 schools in a variety of ways. English as a Second Language, Family Literacy and Parent Education classes at school sites increase parent involvement in the school, give parents skills they need to support their children’s school success, and turn schools into community centers. High School Diploma, GED, and Adult Basic Education programs help schools complete their mission of providing basic literacy to all Californians by providing learning opportunities for adults who , for whatever reason, did not attain basic literacy before the age of 18. If all money for adult education comes through the community colleges, the goals of the community colleges may begin to take precedence over those of K-12 districts. Adult schools need dedicated funding to ensure that they can continue providing vital support for K-12 schools.

Maintain Good Relationships between Adult Schools and K-12 Schools: If all money for adult schools comes through the community colleges after 2015, as the governor seems to intend, what is to prevent school districts from eventually regarding their adult schools as an alien encroachment by the community college into their affairs? While the state has supposedly committed to an adult education system that includes both community colleges and adult schools, the lines between the two systems are significantly blurred when all the money comes through one system. This has the potential to disrupt relations between adult schools and K-12 schools, which might in turn threaten successful features of adult school programs such as Family Literacy and ESL classes held at K-12 school sites.

Establish Clarity Regarding the State’s Intentions: The Legislative Analyst’s Office advised that the state maintain an adult education system that includes both K-12 adult schools and community colleges. Public advocacy against the governor’s plan to collapse the adult schools into the community colleges in 2013 demonstrated that the people of California support adult schools. Now the state needs to clearly establish its support for adult schools by committing to dedicated funding for them. The current state of uncertainty creates anxiety in supporters of adult schools while encouraging those who do not support adult schools to be increasingly dismissive. Many school districts still respond to all concerns about their adult schools with some version of “It’s all going to the community colleges.” This attitude has led to debacles like the near-closing of the LA Family Literacy Centers, even though this model program had been shown, through an eight-year study, to produce excellent results for low income and English Language Learner children, the very children the Local Control Funding Formula is supposed to help.

The fact is that in the absence of a state commitment to dedicated funding for adult schools, both supporters and detractors of adult schools have every reason to believe that the state’s support for adult schools is an illusion. There are many who believe the consortia are simply a slower and less obvious route to the governor’s original plan, which was that the community colleges become the single provider of adult education in the state. To be honest, there is much evidence that this may be the case. The Regional Consortia regions are defined as community college districts, even though it would have made more sense for some adult schools to enter into consortia with a nearby community college in another district.   And as far as we know, the governor intends that all the money come through the community colleges. If all the money comes through one system, in what sense do we actually have two systems?

California’s adult schools have existed in a state of uncertainty for seven long years. For most of those years, they have been fighting for their very existence. They are still around because Californians need them, want them, and support them. Now it’s time for the state to step up and support its adult schools with dedicated funding to provide adult schools and their students with some stability at last.