It is the precious fourth leg that stabilizes all the other branches. But it is often overlooked - the first one cut and the last one repaired - even though it brings stability to the system as a whole.
Hit the "read more" link to learn about the NPE Conference and why
Adult Ed needs a seat at the conference table.
It is also the canary in the coal mine. When Adult Ed is in trouble, everyone needs to pay attention, because sooner or later, trouble is coming to everyone else, too.
(Some folks may not know what "canary in the coal mine" means. In the old days, miners would bring a little caged canary down with them into the mines. If there wasn't enough oxygen, the canary would die. If the canary died, the miners knew they needed to get out, because sooner or later, they would die, too.)
On March 1st and 2nd, NPE is having its first conference.
I am going.
Why? Because Adult Ed does not exist in isolation. It is, indeed, one leg of a chair that supports our future. It is one canary, one miner down in the mine of education, digging for the gold of knowledge and wisdom.
To some degree, however small, we hold some responsibility for the collapse we're now digging out of. It is important to know what that responsibility is because power and responsibility are flip sides of the same coin. So whatever responsibility we had, we need to identify it, use it - and expand it - for good.
Prior to the cuts and closures that came on in 2009, most us in Adult Education, whether we were teachers, students, or community members who depended on it, took it for granted. I don't include admin in that category. I hope and assume they had some sense of the bigger picture. But most of us did not and we didn't look ahead at what might be coming down the pike, and think about what we needed to do to avoid future troubles.
I don't hold us responsible for the crash of Wall Street, corporate greed, or other matters... although, there, too, one can look at how we were living as both communities and individuals and ask ourselves if maybe some of that wasn't predictable, based on the choices we made every day, at the voting booth, and with our dollars.
In any case, the crap happened.
And as a result, Adult Education, especially in K12 Adult Schools, was devastated in California.
The good news: In response to the crap, we rallied, unified, gained and sharpened skills, and saved Adult Education. In particular, we saved K12 Adult Schools - which are mostly how Adult Ed is delivered in California.
Now we take on the next task: Rebuilding Adult Ed - in the best way possible.
Part of doing things in the best way possible, is understanding that nothing exists in a vacuum.
Adult Ed is part of a larger system of public education, both in California and nationally. It is affected by trends in education, including privatization, increased testing, "accountability," and a focus on college and career readiness.
Adult Ed has long been tied to shifts in immigration in the United States, not only in terms of the numbers of immigrants but in terms of how immigrants are perceived (welcomed, hated, identified, denied, celebrated, necessary), and immigration policy.
We can take this even further out, as the US Department of Education is doing, and look at what is happening in terms of Adult Education around the world. This is why the US Dept of Ed is focusing on the PIAAC Study and looking at where the US stands in terms of Adult Learning - and what to do about lags in that standing.
To rebuild Adult Education in California in the best way possible, we need to understand all that - and more.
This is why I'm going to the NPE Conference.
My goal is to carry the message that "Adult Education matters" to the conference. If folks don't know about Adult Ed - its value, the cuts it has suffered in California and elsewhere, and the impact of those cuts on our future as a people, I hope to inform them.
I also hope to connect with any other Adult Education folks who may be at the conference. This is a national conference so there will be folks from all over in terms of both geography and program. Will some of them be Adult Ed folks? I don't know.
I also hope to learn from the workshops, connect with and learn from other people, and carry back what I've learned to this blog, my school - San Mateo Adult School, and the larger Adult Ed community in California.
What information about Adult Ed do you think is most important for others to know about?
If I was going to make a list of just three to ten things to make sure people understand - what should be on that list?
Please share your ideas in a comment here or an email sent to cyn dot eagleton and then "at" and then gmail dot com.
I have seen that by working together, we can accomplish so much. I can and want to go to this conference to carry the message that Adult Ed matters and to bring back information that can help us restore and rebuild Adult Ed in California in the best way possible.
My willingness to go is my piece of the puzzle. To do the best job possible, I need your piece.
What information, ideas, and facts should I take with me to the conference? Please let me know.