Monday, July 9, 2012

Look into This

Articles and situations which need our reflection:

 1.  From Catesol’s Monthly News (July 2012):

 EdSource, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit group that focuses on education issues, has released a report on adult education, "At Risk: Adult Schools in California" (www). Its press release states that "adult schools are an important strand in the state's safety net, offering community based classes to some of the state's neediest adults."

2.  KQED's California Report discusses this report in a program entitled, "Adult Education Disappearing in California."

3.    Bill Moyers’ excellent show on unions which you can watch online or listen to on the radio.

Why is this one important to us?  

Fewer and fewer Americans belong to unions.  To many, unions are the “bad guys.”  I would say, they are the bad guys for the bad guys, but then again, I am a union member.  Teachers' unions are some of the largest unions.  Part of what is happening right now is the privatization of education, which means the de-unioning of education.  Charter schools are not union schools. 

At one point in our history, the word “union” brought to mind steel, auto and mill workers, women at work at huge machine looms or sewing machines (Remember Norma Rae and the “Look for the Union label” song?).  Not any more.  Now the word “union” brings to mind the phrase “public sector” which I think is actually a pretty meaningless term for most Americans, except for a group on the right for whom this phrase has a vaguely sinister feeling.  Public sector – teachers, firefighters, police officers, state workers, the people whose job it is to serve the people.  For people who feel betrayed by the American dream and aren’t really sure how and why that happened, the public sector is a handy group to blame, and the folks who betrayed them are ready to help them do that.  

Most of us don’t remember a time when public sector jobs weren’t unionized, well-paying, with good benefits.  But we might soon know and we might not like the results.  

As a third generation educator, the granddaughter of a young widow who taught school in one-room schoolhouses in the Ozark mountains, I can guarantee you:  poor pay and poor conditions do not better schools make.  (This is not to say you were a bad teacher, Grandma!  On the contrary!  More like, poor pay and poor conditions are why you struggled to go to college summers until you had the degree you needed to leave the poverty of your situation and come out West to a better paying job and a better life.)

To see the show, click here.

To listen to the show, click here.

4.   City College of San Francisco is at risk of closure.

What does that have to do with Adult Educaton?   As I have explained in earlier posts, in some districts, Adult Education is tied to K-12, in others, it is tied to the community college system.  In San Francisco, Adult Education is tied to City College.    

If CCSF is at risk of closure because of accreditation problems supposedly caused by too many teachers and not enough administrators, which teachers do you think will be cut?

If CCSF suffers constant financial cuts as it has been and continues to do, which classes do you think will be cut first and most?

If you guessed the non-credit classes, you would be right.  Non-credit community college classes are the Adult Education classes and Adult Education classes and programs are the ones most in danger.

In the words of one teacher, “CCSF is essentially being trashed for -- bending over backward to  preserve programs, keep open classes and minimize faculty layoffs -- am I getting that right?”

Oh, and do I need to mention CCSF has many union jobs?

You can learn more about the CCSF situation at the links below. 

Note:  The articles in the San Francisco Chronicle do not detail the impact loss of accreditation and continuing cuts have on non-credit classes (Adult Education classes) nor do they provide many points of view on why CCSF faces loss of accreditation.

To round out these pieces on what CCSF faces, here's an informative article from Danny Weil on attacks on community colleges across the country.

If you feel a little depressed, remember there have always been obstacles.  Greed and stupidity are part of the human condition and they make regular appearances in our lives, on both the personal and the political level.  But there has also always been strength.  And wisdom.  And courage.  We are a powerful species, we humans.  And when we put our hearts and minds to it, we do tremendous things.

Remember that, then click here.

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