Monday, August 26, 2013

Update: Oakland Adult School

Oakland Adult School once served over 20,000 people.

The crisis that hit Adult Education, in particular K12 Adult Schools, nearly destroyed it.

But it didn't.  Not entirely.  A tiny core of programs survived, including the little engine that could, La Escuelita, and last May, motivated by a mighty cry from the community, the Oakland School Board voted to stand by those programs and keep them going.  Shortly after, Gov. Brown came out with his May Revise that brought new hope to K12 Adult Schools.

A good thing, because Oakland very much needs these programs.

Some facts that show why:

Hit the "read more" link to learn more.

The San Francisco Chronicle series "Unacceptable Odds for Young Black Men in Oakland."

The Reality of Poverty Among Seniors in Oakland, California

A large number of K12 students in Oakland are English Learners.  That means their parents and families need English, too.

Oakland has challenges.  It also has strengths.  It's a city of vibrancy, energy, and diversity.

Sue Pon, Administrator for OUSD Adult and Career Education gives this update on what Oakland Adult School currently offers (from the Oakland Adult School website):

Sue Pon

I’d like to start the 2013-14 school year off by thanking you, GED students, Family Literacy parents, Adult Education and OUSD staff, business leaders and community leaders, for advocating for the continuation of Adult Education in Oakland. Your voices and the Governor’s May revise incentive encouraged the Board of Education to decide to continue GED and Family Literacy instructional services this year. However, we sadly do not have funding for the Career Technical Education programs nor for many of the positions providing instructional support.

So what do we know?

Oakland had a big Adult School.
There was a crisis.  The school almost closed.
People spoke up.  The School Board and the Legislature and the Governor listened. 
The school stayed open - tiny but open.
A lot of people in Oakland need Adult Education.
The city has many good things and expanded Adult Ed will make them better.

So now what?

Next comes the new system for all Adult Ed in California:  the Regional Consortia.

These Regional Consortia will decide, region by region, what Adult Ed is delivered where and to whom.   There is 25 million dollars in grants for this planning process.

Chris Nelson
Chris Nelson, long-time teacher at Oakland Adult School, and former president of CCAE, is the coordinator for the Regional Consortium for Adult Ed in Oakland.

On the CCAE website, he says, "I really believe now that we are on the right track and are better positioned for continued funding for K-12 Districts that provide Adult Education."

Rob Bonta, who chairs the Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee and sits on the Banking and Finance, Health, Transportation, and Elections and Redistricting Committees, is the Assembly Member who represents Oakland.

Loni Hancock, is the State Senator representing Oakland. She chairs the Public Safety Committee and the Budget Subcommittee #5 on Corrections, Public Safety, and the Judiciary Committee and sits on the Budget & Fiscal Review, Education, Elections and Constitutional Amendments, and Environmental Quality Committees.

Democracy works when we work it.

We pay for public education.

We pay taxes which are held in public account by the state.

Our representatives vote on how to spend our money.

It is the job of legislators to listen to the people of their districts, their constituents, and then carry that message to Sacramento, writing and voting on bills (which become laws) and money (how to spend it), keeping the best interests of their constituents in mind. 

Things are still not settled when it comes to Adult Education.

1.  There are concerns about K12 Adult Schools.  Will they survive and thrive so they can serve the people.

2.  What will the future of Adult Education look like?  What kinds of programs will be provided?  Where?  To whom?

The people of Oakland can go to Assembly Member Bonta and Senator Hancock to express their concerns about funding Adult Education and K12 Adult Schools and Oakland Adult School (and anything else in their community).

They can also go to the Oakland School Board.

They can also go to the Regional Consortium for Adult Ed in Oakland.

They can also contact local press, including Oakland Local, and local community activists and bloggers, including draketalkoakland.

They can also go the CDE - the California Department of Education.  They can call the Adult Ed office of the CDE to find out about Adult Ed in their area - its status, funding, future, etc.

Not only "they can" -

but you can.

We can.

We can do this.

All across California, we can re-open and re-build Adult Schools.

We can bring Adult Ed back from the brink of death, better than before.

Together we can.

Photo Credit to Hyphenated Republic

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