Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Jan 29th Hearing on Adult Ed: Your Chance to Speak

Wednesday, January 29th, at 9 am, there will be an "oversight hearing" on Adult Education for two committees of the California State Legislature.

This is a joint hearing of the Assembly Higher Education and the Senate Education Committees.

At the hearing for SB 173 in August 2013, Assembly Higher Education Committee members expressed a need for more information about Adult Education before making a decision about 173.

This "oversight hearing" is a response to the need for a better understanding of Adult Education - past, present, and possible future - before making any decisions about SB 173 or anything else that pertains to Adult Ed.

Hit the "read more" link to learn more.

Jeanice Warden-Washington, principal consultant for the California State Assembly Committee Staff, explained to me that 11 of the 13 members of the Assembly Higher Education Committee are freshmen.  They need more information in order to fully understand the situation and make the best decisions possible.

She told me that the agenda hasn't been set yet.  I asked her how the agenda is determined.  She said they take a look at the comments made by committee and staff and then do their best provide the information needed to clarify matters.  They seek non-biased and diverse sources of information.

She said the agenda will most likely include information about the Regional Consortia, Community Colleges (how is providing non-credit in combination with fee-based classes working out), amongst other things.

She explained that Senator Liu has until June to move SB 173 forward and until May to amend it.

She also said there will be time at the end of the hearing for public comment.  That means if you attend the hearing, you may be able to make a comment.

She also said that you may be able to watch it live on the Cal Channel and/or listen to it live.

I attended the hearing for SB 173 in August and I can tell you it is a very worthwhile experience.  You may or may not be able to express your opinion at the end (and you may be limited to just stating your name along with a very brief statement), but that does not make it less worthwhile going.  You get a real sense of the how politics work.  You get a feel for the people who make the decisions that affect us for generations to come.  Your presence reminds them they represent us, the people.  And after the hearing, if so moved, you can drop by the Legislators' offices to share your thoughts.   Don't worry if you "just" speak with an aide.  Aides are important.  And you may, in fact, speak with a legislator. 

If you're going, get there early so you can get a seat.  And then enjoy the beautiful weather we're likely to have and stroll around the capitol, inside and out.  It's your capitol!

The hearing, as I see it, came out of a need for more information about Adult Education because of confusion about how to move forward with SB 173. 

It is not about SB 173, per se, but what fueled some of the debate about SB173 - the fact it reflects a new, more limited "core mission" approach to Adult Education, amongst other things, will probably be central to the discussion and debate at the hearing.

That is not all it is about, however.  This is an oversight hearing on Adult Education - an attempt to get a big picture view of something that has been and still is in a state of deep change.

This is an important opportunity for you to express any thoughts or concerns about Adult Education which you want legislators to know about.  Think of it as telling someone what you want for Christmas in the weeks leading up to Christmas - versus in June or July.  Now is the time Adult Ed is on their minds.  Now is the time they are thinking about Adult Ed.  What has worked?  What didn't work?  What's happening now?  What might happen in the future?  What is the best for the people of California?

Do you have opinions about the need for more student and staff participation in decision making, the Regional Consortia, the need for support services, rural vs urban, districts flouting the MOE, serving the undocumented, Older Adults, Parent Ed, Home Economics,  Financial Literacy, the need for childcare, the connection of Adult Ed with Community Schools, equity between K12 and CC within the Consortia, credential and professional differences between systems?  You name it, NOW IS THE TIME for you to express your views!

You can call, email, or write letters to the members of the committees.  All the info is below.

As I've learned, the people who answer the phone are usually very nice.  They will listen to you and note your opinions.  Email will work if you are within someone's district.  Regular "snail" mail works for everyone.  You can also send a letter to the committees, themselves.  I've got links for pretty much everything below.

Working to save and rebuild Adult Education, I have learned that in many ways, we get what we use.

We have not just the right to use our democracy, but the responsibility.

If you care about Adult Education and know information that can help the legislators to make better decisions, now is the time for you to express your views.

I will add the addendum that it took me a fair amount of work to find out what exactly was going on in regards to this hearing.  Do I wish that had been easier?  Sure.  On the other hand, as I tell my daughter, that's sort of how life works.  And now I've made the effort and Ms.Warden-Washington was kind enough to explain how things work to me and now all you have to do is to make a call or write a letter in order for the legislators to understand your perspective and take it into account when making decisions that will affect all California, and in a domino sort of way, the whole United States, for generations to come.  Yes, you matter.

And there is this:

Background info that might be helpful:

CCAE Legislative Analyst Dawn Koepke's latest Legislative Update which includes info on the new budget and this hearing.

Save Your Adult School blogpost on the hearing and its impact on Older Adults and Parent Ed classes and an update post to that one.

Edsource article about the hearing on 173 last August 2013.   There are a number of comments - both pro and con.

AB86 website

Hearing, Committee, and Agenda Info:

Oversight Hearing Agendas    There's no agenda yet but it will magically appear there when ready.

Hearing Info:
Wed, Jan 20th, at 9 am,  in the State Capitol, Room 4203.  (Listen to this hearing.)
Asm Das Williams and Sen Carol Liu are chairs.

Committee Info:

Assembly Higher Education Committee

Chair:  Das Williams
Vice-Chair:  Rocky Chavez

Senate Education Committee

Chair:  Carol Liu
Vice-Chair:  Mark Wyland

Background info on some of the
Assembly Higher Ed Committee Members:

Das Williams is from Santa Barbara.  His bill AB95, which allows six community college campuses to voluntarily launch a pilot program that offers summer and winter intersession courses for high-demand classes at higher prices, was signed into law last Fall. 

Rocky Chavez' district, which runs along the coast north of San Diego, saw many cuts and closures to Adult Ed.  He cares very much about Adult Education and expresses some thoughts about Adult Ed here in his response to Brown's 2013 May Revise.

Steve Fox, out of Antelope Valley, has taught Adult Education in the past and is a strong supporter of Adult Ed.

Reggie Jones-Sawyer, from South Los Angeles, recently introduced AB 1456, a measure to study the popular higher education funding plan “Pay it Forward Pay it Back.” This measure is a financial aid system where a student’s pays no upfront costs for their college education. Upon graduating they pay 2%-4% of their gross income to a state or college trust fund for a specified number of years.  

Jose Medina  is a former ESL teacher who understands the value of Adult Education.   He district saw much devastation to Adult Education.  You can read about what happened at Riverside Adult School here.  He is also a strong supporter of immigration reform.  You can read about him fasting for immigration reform here.

Shirley Weber, at the hearing on SB 173 in August, may have set this oversight hearing into motion when she said we need more information about Adult Ed before we make big decisions.  She rightly saw that clear information and understanding are needed before making choices that will affect generations to come.  Her district surrounds San Diego to the north, east and south.

At the hearing for SB 173 in August, 2013, Assembly Members Weber, Jones-Sawyer, Quirk-Silva, Medina, Fox, and Wilk all expressed concern about narrowing the mission of Adult Ed. Some focused more on Older Adults, some on Parent Ed, some on both. Many expressed a desire to keep the mission broad and focused on “lifelong learning.”   (These comments are based on what I heard at the hearing.)

Background info on some of the Senate Ed Committee Members

Carol Liu, Chair of the Education Committee, has been a champion of Adult Education for some time now.  She is also a strong supporter of Community Schools.  The central idea of Community Schools is that engaged and supported families are a necessary ingredient to student - and community - success.  Her district is Glendale and surrounding areas.

Mark Wyland, Vice-Chair, is concerned about the high number of both high school drop-outs and English Learners.  Both these concerns connect with Adult Education.  His district begins at Dana Point and then moves inland.

Loni Hancock, "has authored legislation that greatly expands school-to-career education for California’s high school students. She strongly believes in career academies because they keep young people in school, and better prepares them for college and for real jobs in the new economy."  Her district is in Berkeley, Oakland and other parts of the East Bay.  Oakland Adult School was nearly wiped out.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King


1 comment:

  1. Cynthia makes a terrific point about participating in the legislative process. I've had an opportunity to testify about educational issues and indeed it is a worthy experience.