Sunday, April 20, 2014

Adult Education: The Invisible Power

In many ways, this is a Perspective piece - both because it is from my perspective and because it is about how a shift in perspective can change everything.  As always, I welcome other perspectives.  Contact me at cyn dot eagleton and then the "at" sign and then g and them mail and then dot and then com if you are interested in sharing a perspective piece here.
Edsource and the California State PTA are holding a Symposium on Public Education Reform in Los Angeles on May 7.
From the article:
Public education in California is undergoing radical reforms that change everything – from how students will be tested on what they learn to the fundamental way schools are evaluated. 
An EdSource symposium in Los Angeles next month will help the public make sense of the changes and how they’ll shape the future of education in the state. 
The May 7 event, offered in partnership with the California State PTA, brings together some of the top experts in their fields to discuss the impact of reforms underway.
There is no mention of Adult Education anywhere on the program.
A little over two years ago, I proposed an Adult Ed Needs a Seat at the Table campaign.  We took pictures of students holding up plates that said why they need Adult Education.  We made the case that we needed to be at the table when decisions about the future of Adult Ed were made.
I don't disagree with that.
But I have learned and thought plenty since then - and that has shifted my perspective. 
Adult Ed does not need a place at the table.
Because Adult Ed has a place at the table.
What Adult Ed doesn't always have is visibility.

Hit the "read more" link to learn more.

Adult Ed is there... at the table of public education.
Adult Ed is there educating the young adults who didn't make it through the K12 system, providing them with support, coursework and tests that get them GEDs and High School Diplomas.
It's there providing job skills to those same young adults - and adults of all ages, many of them parents of K12 students.
Adult Ed is teaching the parents and grandparents and communities that surround K12 kids and K12 schools... English and civics and how things work in the American public school system... how to help your child survive and thrive and contribute to the family, the community, the world.

Adult Ed is offering a pathway to citizenship to immigrants, many of them parents of K12 kids. 

49% of children in California are the children of immigrants!
Adult Ed is providing seniors with the means to stay mentally and physically at their best so they can work, care for family members, make civic and community contributions, including volunteering in K12 schools.
Adult Ed is supporting and empowering the disabled to make the most of their gifts and strengths, disabled who sometimes go directly from K12 Special Ed programs to Adult Ed Disabled Adults programs.
And just like everyone else in Public Education, Adult Ed is going through many reforms. 
I would say, in fact, it is going though more reform than any other branch of public education.  It's very structure, plus its funding, has been changed.  Plus the size and intention of its mission.  Plus the funds for K12 Adult Schools are filtered through LCFF.  Plus Common Core has changed the GED.  Plus there is increased testing and accountability.  Plus over the course of the past five years, it was nearly wiped out - 70 K12 Adult Schools closed and all were cut because of top-down imposed "flexibility."  Name another branch of public ed more impacted by reform.  Simply not possible.
Adult Ed is there... at the table of public education.
And it's there, not just as a receiver -  but as a giver, as well.
The communities Adult Ed serves hold a lot of power.
Their gifts, recognized, honed, and received, move our people forward. 
Their gifts, denied, neglected, and refused, hold our people back.
Adult Ed is at the table.
The question is:  Will and do the others at the table receive what Adult Ed has to give?
Will the other branches of public education, the press, the legislature, the Governor, and the community at large, have the wisdom to see and receive what Adult Ed has to offer?
Will they have the wisdom to see that if Adult Education is recognized, funded, and given voice and visibility, its contributions can make all the difference to our future as a people?
That shift in perspective, turns not just Adult Education from invisible to visible... but our people from doomed to booned.
For we fail to recognize the value of others in our group to our peril.
Just as we benefit through the recognition and the reception of their gifts.
Adult Ed is at that table.
It's time that the press, academia, and symposiums like this one, recognize the value of Adult Education and ask for it's contributions to be heard in these discussions.
Please add yours. 
We know the value of Adult Education.

If enough of us speak, others will hear.
Our voice matters.
Our power is real.

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