Saturday, May 11, 2013

Tuesday, May 14th: Unity in Red

This week, Governor Brown will present the May Revise of his Budget Proposal.

The future of Adult Education is at stake in what he proposes and in how the Legislature responds.

Every Californian will be affected by what's decided.

For over 150 years, Adult Education has been helping parents, the unemployed, seniors, young adults, & immigrants gain the skills they need to contribute to California at full power.

California still needs that.  In fact, now more than ever.

This Tuesday, May 14th, let's remind California -
and ourselves - of who we are and what we do.

Let's all wear some measure of red - t-shirts, scarves, socks - and provide information about how our programs serve the community.   Send out press releases, fact sheets, and photos.  Post pics on blogs, Facebook, and websites.  Remind everyone:  we are one community serving one purpose:  to support and empower California through education.

All of us - the K12 Adult Schools, the Community College non-credit programs, the classes that are on-site and off, in senior centers and pre-schools, in run-down old buildings with leaky roofs and in brand spanking new ones, in programs that are hanging on by just a few teachers and in places where Adult Ed is still strong, in schools that are slated for closure and in schools that facing votes on closure. 

Let's stand together this Tuesday, May 14th, in red. 

Red for vitality.  Red for crisis.  Red for apples of A,B,C - learning empowers you and me.

The Back Story

Adult Education is old.  Over 150 years old.

Like many old things, it is a little complicated.  Like a tree, over the years it grew branches which grew out in different directions, some of them small, some of them big.

Here's the thing: 
All those branches produce fruit.  
The same fruit.

And they all stem from the same root.

Whether Adult Education is provided through K12 districts (Adult Schools) or through Community College districts (non-credit), it is still Adult Education.

Whether it's ESL, GED, Job Training, Older Adults, Parent Education, High School Diploma, Family Literacy, Disabled Adults, Financial Literacy, or Citizenship, it's still Adult Education.

In the chaos of the last 5 years, when a financial crisis forced deep cuts to all public education, that truth has been forgotten.

Gov. Schwartzenegger imposed "flexibility."  K12 districts made hard choices in order to survive.  Choices which harmed the very children they served, because they were cutting the programs that empowered those children's parents, grandparents, and older siblings to better support them as learners and to succeed in their communities.  Survivor choices are never happy ones.  They are always ringed with grief.

In the meantime, the Community Colleges, like every branch of public education, also faced cuts.  And CCSF in San Francisco, found itself fighting for its survival through an accreditation crisis. CCSF is the provider of Adult Education in San Francisco, a big city with big needs for Adult Ed.

Now we find ourselves in a situation where money is again available but we are fighting over it.

K12 Districts are fighting over Gov. Brown's proposed LCFF.  Who will it benefit?  Who will it hurt? Is it fair?  To whom?

And the Adult Education community is fighting over how to survive.  We all want Designated Funding.  But some want to go with the Governor's plan and be entirely under the control of the Community College District.  And some want to continue as is, in the K-12 supported Adult Schools that have served their communities for many decades.  Some for over 100 years. 

Some are okay with narrowing the mission of Adult Ed.  They feel it is okay to lose the Older Adults and Parent Ed and Family Literacy programs because perhaps this is the only way Adult Education can survive.

Some are cite the necessity and wisdom of serving these communities we have served for so long.

Prop 30 passed.  A budget surplus is welling  to the surface of California.

There is no reason for us to fight over resources unless we want to give a third party a reason to get rid of both of us.

Divide and conquer.  It's an old strategy.   Old because it works - just like Adult Education works.

In some way, there really is nothing new in this world.

Just the choices we make in the present moment, using our knowledge of the past, to decide what we want for our future.

Which way do we want?

The way of education, wisdom, unity?  Sitting down together to figure out strategies to serve all of California together?  Sharing our skills - assessment, creativity, organization - to make the best Adult Education system possible?

Or the way of division, fear, and blame.  It's your fault.  Look at your shortcomings.  We can't trust you.  There's not enough for both of us.  I'm the only one who can do it right.  I'm the only who matters.


Isn't this whole thing about the group?

Isn't this whole struggle about how to best serve the group of human beings who live in California - old, young, native born, immigrant, employed, unemployed, parents, childless, literate, illiterate.  We all live here.  We all suffer the consequences when things go badly.

True, there are always those who profit in times in discord.  But can we trust those who do?

Isn't it better to trust each other?  To work together to serve the people of California?

We don't have to work out all the details now.

Group process is hard.

Ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you that I personally hate it and sometimes shrink from it.  Why do you think I'm a writer?  I can do that alone!  Conflict is hard!  It's hard to trust the process - and each other - enough to hang in there with it and work things out.

But it's the only thing that's going to save us.

Because we are a group.

We, human beings, are a group species.  No matter how wonderful the technology we invent, technology that enables to live alone, communicate without being in the same room with others, even reproduce without benefit of human touch, we are still a group species.

We need each other. 

Let's use technology to connect.

Let's use our understanding of what's happening to overcome our differences and work together to serve the greater whole.

Gov. Brown is right.  Education is a civil rights issue.

And no one knows that better than those of us in Adult Education.

Let's stand together this Tuesday, May 14th.  One community.  One source of information, wisdom and strength about the necessity to empower our people through education.

San Mateo Adult School at a rally for CCSF -
City College of San Francisco
LA is already rallying on that day. 

San Mateo Adult School at CCAE Conf.
San Mateo  - staff and students - will be wearing their Adult Education Matters t-shirts. 

We can do this.

Look at what we've already done!

    We are powerful.     
Even more powerful, together.
Let's show everyone who we are.
Let's who show everyone where we are.
Let's remind everyone what we do to benefit all California.
Wear Red on Tuesday, May 14th
Share what you do with the press, your community,
state and local government, and social media.
We are Adult Education.
And we matter.
Because we the people do.
These people understood the danger of division, the power of unity, and the necessity of courage, action, and forgiveness.
We have that same greatness in us.
Let's reveal it.



  1. Absolutely eloquently stated, my colleague!
    We are indeed fortunate to have you speak for us and for so many!!

  2. Absolutely eloquently stated, my colleague!
    We are indeed fortunate to have you speak for us and for so many!!