Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Adult Learners Matter

The now famous, seen around the world, "Victory Pic,"
taken on the day of the May Revise, 2013
by SMAS Program Coordinator, Instructor, and Photographer Tom Jung
Students - Adult Learners - are why Adult Education exists.

Listening to and understanding the knowledge, wisdom, and perspective of Adult Learners is the key to creating the best Adult Education system possible.

Because Adult Education has been devastated by cuts and closures...  70 K12 Adult Schools having been closed and all having been slashed and burned...  creating a situation where it is easy to come in and do great good or great wrong... much as burning a field leaves the earth open to a new crop of wheat or weeds.

Because Adult Education is in the midst of a transformation, re-forming in new ways under new laws, shaped by varying and competing interests and perspectives... some of which have more power than others...

Because Adult Education is without stable funding, in particular K12 Adult Schools, which adds further uncertainty and anxiety to the mix, making it easy to either abandon or rush the process of wise decision-making and which makes K12 Adult Schools a weakened player in negotiations within the new Regional Consortia system...

Because Adult Education, through "budgetary policy," was changed...  so that it has, in effect, a new, more narrowed mission... and populations it once served are now at double risk... they are part of Adult Education only if funding can found...  funding which takes time and effort to find and maintain... and funding which might or might not remain stable... and which must continue to be managed and maintained...

Because Adult Education serves populations with limited English and/or knowledge of how the system works and/or access to a means of being heard... and it is therefore easy to fall into the trap of thinking Adult Learners do not care about understanding or engaging in the process of a determining a new and better future for Adult Education...  or have the capacity to do so... or have important knowledge and wisdom to bring to the table...

It is crucial that we see that Adult Learners are at the table with much to share.

And it is crucial that we listen to them.

To have the best Adult Education system possible, we need

*   Adult Learners to share their knowledge, perspective, and wisdom

*   Teachers, administrators, politicians, and community members to listen and

*   Make sure that Adult Learners included in decision making

To that end, here is some:

In March, for CCAE Leg Day, San Mateo Adult School Morning Student Council President Marco, along with ESL Student Daniel went to Sacramento to talk to Legislators about Adult Education.

You can read Marco's report here

Last year, in 2013, San Mateo Adult School Morning Student Council President Hitomi went to CCAE Leg Day, along with ESL Students Marina, Natalia, and Iglika. 

You can read Hitomi's report here and Marina's report here.

Marco, Hitomi, and Marina all attended the Townhall about the new Regional Consortia this past Fall. 

You can read Marco's report here and Hitomi's report here and Marina's report here.

You can see all three of them in a video explaining the Red for Adult Ed campaign here.

You can read Marco advice on getting people involved in school community leadership here.  This advice was part of a student led workshop at the CCAE Bay Conference in March 2014

Here are the results of the survey that San Mateo Adult School students created to find out what students want for the future of Adult Education.

In November of 2013, a team of SMAS students met with students from Berkeley Adult School to share information and encourage advocacy to save Adult Education.

Berkeley Adult School and San Mateo Adult School students in conversation
In January, US Dept of Ed Asst Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education Dr. Dann-Messier and Director of Adult Ed Cheryl Keenan visited San Mateo Adult School.  Dr. Dann-Messier met with students in a roundtable discussion to hear their opinions.  You can read Marina's report about the event here.
Dr. Dann-Messier with SMAS students and administration

In January of this year, Hitomi, Marco, and Marco attended a Legislative Oversight Hearing on Adult Ed.  You can read their reports here (Hitomi), here (Marco), and here (Marina.)

Marina, Hitomi, and Marco
speaking at the Legislative Oversight Hearing on Adult Education

This Spring, San Mateo Adult School ESL students celebrated Adult Education Week with a Poster Contest and an Essay Contest.

You can read Susana's essay about how the Adult School helps her here and Galyna's here and Saul's here and Karen's here and Kevin's here and Ignacio's here and Patricia's here.

And here are a few of the wonderful posters the students made about why Adult Education Matters.

In 2013, ESL Students celebrated Adult Education Week with many activities.  You can read about the many things they did here.  You can read some of the student essays here, and here and here. and here.

The ESL Writing Intensive Class worked on a number of letter and essay projects.  Here is an essay about Adult Education by Elsa Teixara.  And here is a collection of letters written to the Legislature.

And here is an essay by a San Mateo Adult School GED student about her experience studying for the GED at SMAS.

The SMAS Student Council takes provides both leadership and funding for many efforts.

Selling t-shirts and buttons at CCAE Bay Conference

The SMAS Student Council pays for and sells t-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, and posters to promote Adult Education and Red for Adult Ed.  It paid for the two Adult Education Matters banners.  And it has funded and promotes many other efforts to save Adult Education, including Red for Adult Ed Tuesdays and stamps and stationary for Red Letter Day letter writing campaigns.

Red Letter Day
Student Letter Writing Campaign to the Legislature and Governor

SMAS student leadership was profiled in this San Mateo Daily Journal article, "Active advocates at adult school’s student councils: Students organize events, share opinions on policies and priorities."

A Student Council Representative invited Univision to visit SMAS during the 2013 Adult Education week. 

SMAS student leaders have spoken at the San Mateo Union High School District Board meetings.

Check out the adulteducationmatters website with 14 testimonial videos from current or former Adult Ed students.

And this video of Older Adults Student Herb Alonzo speaking at the SMAS Press Conference:

Or the many other videos of students speaking at the press conference which you can find at the AdultEdMatters and TeacherBruce1 youtube channels.

You can read about the press conference in this San Mateo Daily Journal article, "Worry grows over possible adult school cuts."

And don't miss this student-made video:  CA Adult Schools:  To Be or Not.

Those are a few examples of San Mateo Adult School students expressing their opinions, lifting their voices, sharing their wisdom about Adult Education - why it matters, what they need, what they want.

There are plenty more! I just got tired trying to link to all of them.  Check out smaceesl.blogspot.com for more.

There are also plenty of examples of student action outside of San Mateo Adult School, including:

this speech by LA Adult Ed Student Gilberta Gonzalez at the CCAE 2013 State Conference
Gilberta Gonzalez
Los Angeles
Adult School Student

this website which is a record of the successful campaign in LA to save Adult Ed programs

*  numerous videos of students rallying, including this one in Baldwin Park

this petition to save Adult Ed programs  - with over 10,000 signatures, many of them students

this blogpost about Oakland Adult School Family Literacy student actions to save their program

this article about action in Fairfield to save Adult Ed programs

* numerous student actions to save City College of San Francisco,
provider of Adult Education in San Francisco

*  student actions in Azusa, Riverside, Sweetwater, and elsewhere. 

*  GED, Older Adults, Parent Ed, and Career Tech students lifting to voices to speak up about the value and need for their programs.

Want more?  Search "save adult education California" and see what comes up.

And comb through the following sources:

San Mateo Adult ESL Student Blog

Save Adult Education

United Adult Students


       And then get your red ready for Tuesdays!
SMAS Students wearing Red for Adult Ed
Summer 2014 SMAS brochure cover
Full poster for sale at SMAS $10
photo credit:  Tom Jung

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