(This is a Perspective Piece. In this case, mine... my personal perspective on current affairs.)
|Monterey Coast 2009|
|What's that on the horizon?|
I remember it like it was yesterday, not just because I had a great time in Monterey with my daughter and my folks... but because I drove down there right after my boss called us together to tell us that in order to deal with the economic recession and keep K-12 schools going, Governor Schwartzenegger was "flexing" Adult Ed money.
The flexibility provided by the budget package is unprecedented. Local educational agencies (LEAs) will be able to redirect funding from 40 programs to “any educational purpose.” They will also be able to use restricted account balances from 2007–08 for any educational purpose. Read more here.
I remember driving out to the motel to meet my parents. Distracted by this news, I had spaced out. Now I found myself lost, in a marsh. My daughter was asleep in the back seat. Hmmm, I thought, this flex feels like bad news. Real, real bad news. Serious like cancer bad news. Also, where the heck am I?
But when to my surprise, I accidentally found the motel, and greeted my parents and settled in, when I opened up my lap top and emailed my co-workers from the motel room, many didn't seem as upset as was. It will all be okay, many said. Things will be fine. Really?, I thought, Am I crazy? I don't feel like it will I feel like we are in seriously deep, stinky and steep, deep, deep doo-doo - up to our eyeballs.
Hit the link to read more.
|Me and my teacher mom|
|My grandma, a few years|
before she became a widowed
schoolteacher in a 1-room
schoolhouse in the Ozarks
But... I was concerned. And I was in that motel with my folks - two former educators. And they agreed with me that things sounded worrisome. So at the end of the long weekend, when I got back to work, I continued to ask folks... Were they worried? Did they, like I did, feel we were in neck deep in trouble?
Some folks did and some folks didn't. As someone who is very good at denial, I know how good it can feel. Sometimes being neck deep in warm doo-doo feels better than a Calistoga mud bath.
|SMAS students rally to save our school|
and all the other schools across the state
|We are NorCal|
Rain doesn't stop us!
But... doo-doo it was and some folks saw it for that and rallied us to action. A little more than a year after that Presidents Day weekend in 2009, we took part in a "Mass Mobilization to Defend Public Education."
|Adult Schools are part of Public Ed!|
And in May (2010), we had our first "Red Letter Day," sending letters to the Governor and the Legislators about the value of Adult Education and K12 Adult Schools.
Around the state, other Adult Schools mobilized, too. They held rallies, wrote letters, and started groups and blogs. In some places, they had some success. Los Angeles was hugely mobilized and managed to save a larger portion of their programs. But Oakland mobilized, too - and did not.
Why did some schools close and some stay open? Good questions. Important questions. I've tried to address some of them here in this blog.
And why did Adult Ed and K12 Adult Schools get far less less press and far less attention than other branches of public ed? Why were we made the blood donor for K12 Schools? Adult Ed is what supports and empowers so many parents of K12 students. A child's success is linked, more than any other factor, to mother's education level. But we were cut - far worse and far more severely and with far less concern - than any other branch of public ed.
At the same time all branches of public ed were cut - and caught up in a larger movement to "re-form" public education. Privatization also made headway in all branches of public education - including Adult Education. And CCSF, the only provider of Adult Education in the large city of San Francisco, was under attack on multiple levels, for multiple reasons, some of which connects to the fact it is a large provider of non-credit Adult Education.
It took us a while to connect the dots and to connect with each other. For a while, many of us worked in relative isolation, not realizing we could reach out and connect with each other. I wish I and others at my school had connected with COSAS and United Adult Students and found the Save Your Adult School blog sooner than we did. At one point, I tried to calling many of the Adult Schools listed on the California Adult Schools site but I didn't make any real connections. I honestly think most people I was a nut for calling them.
|The Grand Canyon.|
Life is a process.
It also took some of us "regular folks" time to find our way and our voice within the organizations we belong and pay dues to. To varying degrees of success, we did that, too.
In the meantime, a huge number of our schools weren't saved. The numbers reported vary but anywhere from 70 to 100 schools closed. And all of them shrank in size and scope.
That's a lot of communities deprived of Adult Education. A lot of jobs lost. A lot of reverberations.
I started this blog in March of 2012. For some time, I had felt that someone "should" start a blog or that someone should give me "permission" to start a blog. Finally, I had one of those V-8 moments in which I realized that if I really thought someone should do this, I should and could do it. So I did.
|Bruce Neuberger at the 2014|
|Karen Arthur, myself, Kristen Pursley|
Thanks to Bruce Neuberger, I also found out about Diane Ravitch and the Network for Public Education and began to understand the larger puzzle of which Adult Ed's the missing piece.
|Lisa Dolehide with |
SMAS Student Leaders
Valentine's Day 2014
We <3 Adult Education
And 5 Red Letter Days, at least 4 petitions, 1 press conference, numerous Facebook pages, and hundreds of Red Tuesdays later, we can say, that yes, together, we the people, in all our various forms and factions, have "saved" Adult Education.
|Students asking for a seat at the table for Adult Education.|
"If you're not at the table, you're on the menu."
We put hours and hours and hours of heart and mind and muscle and spirit and made and won the case that Adult Education matters. This is big. This is real. This is beautiful.
|Big Red Tuesday in Los Angelse|
|The now famous "Victory Pic."|
Photo credit: Tom Jung
Since that weekend in Monterey, I have put in thousands and thousands of hours into this effort to "save" Adult Education and make the case that Adult Education and
Public Education and indeed... the public!... matters.
Now I am tired. Real tired.
All the things that keep me going feel in disrepair.
(Hmmm... disrepair... despair... connection?)
I see people - as individuals and in groups - able to function when they are in balance.
A funny thing about wheels... for cars, we talk about balance. "Got to get my wheels balanced." For bikes, we talk about true. "My wheel's not true. I got to get my wheels trued."
What keeps a wheel in true, in balance?
All things have to be equal. Each spoke has to be of equal length and strength.
If a spoke breaks, you can get by for a while, but eventually, it will unbalance the whole wheel and the whole thing will fall apart and then, blam! You are stuck. Without wheels. Going nowhere.
What are my spokes?
I think they are same as for everyone - both individually and in community.
Love, money, work, play, friends, family, etc.
Pull out one of them and I can get by for a while...
but not forever.
What happened in the last few years for me is what I think is going to happen in California, and indeed our nation, in the future. Adult Ed is just a small TJ's sample portion of our cultural idea of what creates and maintains health and success.
I was focused - very, very focused - on work. Especially in the last two or three years, I often spent anywhere from 20 to 50 hours on a weekly basis on what I call "AE work." That could be anything from writing a blog post to reading articles about Public Ed reform to calling legislators to attending a meeting to developing relationships with others around the state. Whatever - it was all focused on saving, stabilizing, and rebuilding Adult Education.
That's okay. I'm okay that I spent my time that way. It was deeply meaningful, rewarding, and growthful, and in many ways and in many areas, I feel my effort contributed to good outcomes.
|Children grow |
away from us
|So do our elders|
As Nancy Folbre explains in her book, "The Invisible Heart, Economics and Family Values," there isn't enough money in the in the world to pay for all the caregiving that we, as humans need in this world. From when we first enter naked, screaming and hungry for milk, love, and a diaper change (hey, I was a nanny for years, paid and unpaid, you got to know I know this one!), to when we need love and counsel and a car to practice driving on as teens to when we need love and mentoring as young adults to when we need someone to help us out when
|People we love change|
|So do empires|
| Me and the world's best baby sister enjoying Sunday |
coffee and cake with Bepe and Family.
Baby Sister is now a Mama, herself.
|Nothing tells time |
like loving a child.
My concern about the new form of Adult Education is that it's less of a wheel and more of a rectangle. It's got about 4 spokes. Okay, 5 if you count Disabled Adults, but you know what I mean. It's very CCR - College and Career Readiness - focused.
|Also getting old|
Governor Brown and many others think CCR is the answer.
I think it's the answer, too - if you add in all the other spokes like Parent Ed and Older Adults and Community Education.
But... so far.. I don't hear that loud and clear. I hear it spoken by many women privately. And a few women publically. And a few men, too. And CFT has said it. But mostly, it doesn't seem like the general public is ready to hear or ponder or take on or deliver or act on that truth.
|This woman teaches me things |
and keeps me sane.
She is living proof and testament
that Community is Immunity.
|Listening to me talk |
about Adult Education
has probably taxed her
almost as much as
doing the work did me.
That doesn't make what they won't or can't face untrue.
Calling out slavery in 1776 did not get a lot of response. Mostly, it got ignored. We got a Constitution that included the Three Fifths Compromise. Did reaching the agreement that a slave is a little more than half human mean that slavery was okay and slaves are less than fully human, undeserving of voice and representation? No, of course not. It just means that many people were not ready to deal with something and that something got pushed down the road where it kept breaking down and blowing up and it's breaking down and blowing up to this day.
|Several Wars in the Middle East ago....|
I feel our failure to reckon with the truth that Community is Immunity is in the same vein.
College and Career Readiness are just part of what we need to keep our wheels true and in balance. They are just part of what we need to move forward as a people. We also need a way to keep us strong as individuals, as families, as communities, as a people. Parent Education and Older Adults and Community Education, including Financial Literacy, are part of how we can do that.
(I'm gonna say it again... why we went from a global financial collapse to eliminating Financial Literacy as a state-funded part of Adult Education boggles my mind. I mean... Who does that benefit?!)
I've written a lot of posts on this blog. I've also thought of many more I never actually wrote. One of them was to be titled, "The River Has Two Banks." It was to be about how we need both a financial bank and a social bank.
The CCR side - College and Career Readiness (and Financial Literacy!) is the financial bank. We need it strong! We need it stable! The Parent Ed and Older Adults and Community Ed is the social side. We need that side strong and stable, too!
That particular post was going to be an homage to my stepmom, who epitomizes a river with two such strong banks. But like so many posts, it never got written. I was too tired. Or too busy. Or too something.
|Posts waiting their turn to roll in|
I have yet more posts lined up in my mind - about Property and Public Education, about Leaving the Back Door Open, about Community is Immunity.
But... because I have neglected my own financial and social banks, I am too over-spent and over-drawn and worn out to write them.
I need to stop. At least for a while. And sit down by the riverside and repair my wheels.
I know. I'm mixing my metaphors. Banks. Wheels. Pick one, will ya!
Whatever you call it, I need to repair it.
|Kitty who recently passed on|
|In my garden|
|Staff of life|
But I'm not posting as much and I'm definitely, consciously and with intent, pulling back so I can bring some truth and balance to my life.
|Fast or slow, change happens|
This is a long game, this life. None of us ever reaches the mountaintop and none of us plays alone. All of us are on the board every day. All of us have the opportunity to learn, grow, screw up, help each other, succeed and fail - every day and in pretty much every way. It's not on any of one of us to do everything. It's not possible for any one of us to do everything.
We are part of something bigger. We move forward - as individuals and as a people - when we remember that... each of us doing our part... each of us remembering we are wheels within wheels ... and it's our job... it's our power... it's our joy... to keep our part of them true.
We will get there.