Parent Education and Older Adults have long been part of Adult Education - and they still are on the CDE (California Department of Education) Adult Education Program Overview page. But when we shift into the new Regional Consortia system in 2015, they won't be funded by the state anymore.
At the same time, more and more research shows the value of both programs and the savings they provide to the state.
Hit the "read more" to learn more.
Regarding Parent Education, An article from the SF Examiner points out: "Very often, people think separately about immigration and issues like education," McHugh said. "[But] one really can't come up with the right prescription for education reform without understanding that a large portion of the student population comes from immigrant families." The article refers to new research from the Migration Policy Institute. Here are two pertinent studies from MPI:
Critical Choices in Post-Recession California: Investing in the Educational and Career Success of Immigrant Youth June 2014
This report examines the experiences and outcomes of immigrant youth across California’s educational institutions. Tracing the effects of education budget cuts that hit this population particularly hard, the report offers recommendations as new funding priorities and education reforms are being implemented. With one-fourth of all immigrants and one-third of English Language Learner students in the U.S., California's performance holds national implications.
Immigrant Parents and Early Childhood Programs: Addressing Barriers of Literacy, Culture, and Systems Knowledge May 2014
This report identifies the unique needs of immigrant parents as they try to engage with early childhood education and care programs. Parent engagement is a critical component of kindergarten readiness, but many immigrant parents face formidable barriers to participation. The report explores federal and local efforts for immigrant parents of young children and offers recommendations for better meeting their needs.
The LCFF - the Local Control Funding Formula - recognizes the importance of parent engagement and specifically calls for it. Click here to see LCFF Parent Engagement guide from Families In Schools.
The larger community recognizes the value of Parent Education and Family Literacy, as well. There was a huge outpouring of support for the LA Family Literacy Adult Education Program when it was slated to be cut by LAUSD. Grassroots outcry and action mobilized elected officials and the program was saved.
Regarding Older Adults, there are numerous studies showing the need for and value of Older Adults Adult Education classes, including a paper from the National Voice for Lifelong Learning which states that "...improving healthy life expectancy by just one year each decade could result in 14 percent savings in spending on healthcare and 11 percent savings in spending on benefits between 2007 and 2025.
And check out this recent San Francisco article stating that "California, with its high cost of living and health care, leads the nation in the percentage of older adults living in poverty, according to a 2013 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Twenty percent of California adults over age 65 live below the poverty threshold of about $16,000 annually, when taking into account the higher cost of housing and health care."
While offering Older Adults Adult Education classes will save the state money by keeping seniors healthier mentally and physically, and more engaged in family, community, civic and work life, if seniors can't afford to pay for them, that just ain't gonna work. So then what do you have? A crisis situation. Lots of hue and cry. Lots of after the fact wringing of hands and saying, "We shouldn't have cut these programs! Old people are suffering and costing the state a lot of money! And there are so many of them! So many old Boomers! Plus the Greatest Generation is still around! So let's start all over and create Classes for Older Adults, something we used to have but now we have to create again which, of course, will cost us money to do but pay no attention to that. Don't think about the big picture or how we got into this mess. Just stay mesmerized by the drama of this crisis. And while I have you on the subject, maybe we should just contract out for this stuff. Privatize it. That will save the state money, right?"
AB86 Covers Just Five Programs
But... AB86, the "new rules" for Adult Education for all California, does not include Parent Education or Older Adults program. It lists only 5 programs:
SB173, a bill that in many ways helps K12 Adult Schools, originally specifically excluded Parent Education, Older Adults, Home Economics, and Financial Literacy. Grassroots outcry, organizational pressure (from AARP, CFT, and other organizations), and Legislative support (Assembly Members Fox, Jones-Sawyer, Quirk-Silva, Wilk, amongst others) resulted in the exclusionary language being removed.
However, there is still no actual state funding for these programs.
Senator Liu's Response
Here is the email that was sent to folks who wrote Senator Carol Liu, author of SB173, asking if SB173 could be amended to actually include the programs. I have highlighted some portions of it.
SB 173 was amended on May 12, 2014 and the bill no longer limits the categories of adult education classes that can be offered. As a result of the bill amendments from Senator Liu in May, the bill received an affirmative vote from all members present at the Assembly Higher Education Committee hearing this afternoon. The discussion at today’s Assembly hearing covered the concerns raised from various groups representing older adult education programs and parenting programs.
SB 173 as amended last month preserves local control of adult education programs. It will be up to the Regional Education Consortia made up of local community colleges and K-12 school districts to decide which programs to offer. That local decision may include funding older adult education and parenting classes. The Regional Consortia will have jurisdiction over these issues and will make decisions regarding what fees, if any, may be charged for classes. The California Department of Education and the Community College Chancellor’s office will also report to the Legislature and the Governor by March 1, 2015 regarding recommendations that have come from the Consortia on improving the adult education delivery system.
We hope you will engage with your Regional Education Consortium regarding your interest and advocacy for specific programs in your community. http://ab86.cccco.edu/
We appreciate your advocacy on behalf of adult education.
Education Policy Advisor
SENATOR CAROL LIU, 25TH SENATE DISTRICT
Here is language from AB 86 that seems pertinent:
2. (c) Each regional consortium’s plan shall include, at a minimum:
3. (1) An evaluation of current levels and types of adult education programs within its region, including education for adults in correctional facilities; credit, noncredit, and enhanced noncredit adult education coursework; and programs funded through Title II of the federal Workforce Investment Act, known as the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (Public Law 105-220).
4. (2) An evaluation of current needs for adult education programs within its region.
K12 Adult Schools In A Tough Spot
Senator Liu's office seems to be saying it is now on individual Regional Consortia to decide what they want to offer - including offering Parent Education and Older Adults - and then deciding how to pay for it... to charge fees or provide the classes for free.
I still don't know how a Regional Consortia could provide Parent Education and Older Adults classes for free... if there aren't state funds to pay for these classes.
On the other hand, the whole issue of how the money is going to work in the new Regional Consortia system is still pretty confusing - let alone money for specific programs.
Supposedly, there will be money for the Regional Consortia. This was what Gov. Brown promised.
But we don't know how that will work. And we especially don't know how things will work for K12 Adult Schools. Community Colleges get money through apportionment. They have money now and they will money in the future. It's guaranteed.
But for K12 Adult Schools - 2015 is a cliff. We don't know what will happen. There are no guarantees. There is no money for K12 Adult Schools once the MOE (Maintenance of Effort) Clause runs out in 2015.
If K12 Adult Schools Want to Offer These Programs, What Should They Do?
If a K12 Adult Schools wants to offer Parent Education, Family Literacy, or Older Adults classes... and if they want to offer them free... if they are in a community which cannot afford fees... and a community where those programs would provide benefit to the community... especially to the K12 community... what then?
Do they include these classes in their Regional Consortia plans? Do they then submit those plans to the state? To the CDE? To AB86? To whom? What do they do?
K12 Adult Schools are in a tough situation all around. They are trying to participate in a new system which they are helping to build as they go, with no money to plan on, and conflicting messages from the state, academia and public policy institutes, legislators, and the community.
On the one hand, the state says, "Follow the new rules for Adult Education! We will pay for only five kinds of it! And while yes, we know we haven't actually given you any money yet but when we do because we promised you we would, that money will only be for those five programs. And no, we don't know how the money thing will work yet. I know, you're probably hoping we don't give the money to the Community Colleges and have them be in charge of it, right? But... like we said. We haven't decided how we're gonna do the money thing yet. Go clean your room and build a whole set of furniture that only some of you can sleep in. Don't worry. You'll get an allowance. We promise. We might put your big brother in charge of it but you'll get it. Maybe."
While also saying, "Oh and while you're in there, support LCFF! Support and facilitate Parent Engagement!"
And then adding, "But don't do it through Parent Education, Family Literacy, Older Adults, or anything like that. We're not paying for those programs, anymore. We want you to support LCFF and help families but not through Parent Education or Family Literacy or Older Adults classes."
On the other hand, academia and public policy says, "K12 kids will only do better if you support and educate their families which are often multigenerational and immigrant." And, "The state would save a ton of money if seniors stay as healthy and active for as long as possible."
On the third hand, some legislators (hello, Mr. Das Williams) say, "Hey you can have all this, just charge fees for it!" Mr. Williams often seems to think this way. His solution for Community College crowding was tacking on a special fee and guess what? If you can afford that fee, you can get into the class! Well, as I've said before, that might be just fine in your neck of the woods, Assembly Member Williams. You live in tony Santa Barbara and I suppose there are plenty of aging Boomers in lovely Santa Barbara with enough money to pay for such classes. But not every community is like that. In some communities seniors (some of whom raise grandkids, by the way), and parents are struggling. The community would benefit if these folks had access to Adult Education classes which helped them stay healthy, engage in civic and community life, speak English, support kids in school, and get and keep jobs.... but... those folks can't afford to pay for those classes. So then what? Furthermore, I'd say and I think most folks would agree, that where people can't afford to pay for education is usually where and when they need it most.
On the fourth hand, some legislators are saying, "Parent Education and Older Adults are important! So is Financial Literacy! Home Economics could help people emerging from the prison system. We want to go on record that we support seniors." Great. But how? Emotionally? Last time I checked, it takes more than goodwill to help someone stay healthy, raise their kids, care for their ailing spouse, or build a new life when they've served their time or emerged from addiction.
On the fifth hand, the community is saying, "Hey, we want and need these classes!"
So what's a K12 Adult School to do?
AB86, Gov. Brown, Senator Liu, the California State Legislature, CDE, we are asking:
What is a K12 Adult School to do?
Help us understand: If including Parent Ed and Older Adults seems wise, how do we do that, given the box we're in? A box you put us in, we might add! Help us out. Lend us a hand!