Friday, February 5, 2016

New Adult School on San Mateo County Western Coast

Thanks to the stabilization of funding, Adult Education is coming back in places where it was cut or eliminated.  One such place is the western coastline of San Mateo County, which has not had an Adult School since 2009 when cuts first hit and decimated Adult School all across California.  

Click the "read more" link to learn more.

The new La Costa Adult School will serve the Western coast of San Mateo County.   It is part of ACCEL, the Regional Consortium serving San Mateo County.  Until it's opening in January of this year, coastal residents had to drive or get a ride "over the hill" to Adult Schools on the Eastern side of the County or drive in to La Puente, a non-profit community resource center in rural South San Mateo County.

Close to 30% of children in the Cabrillo School District are English Learners.  Ensuring their parents have access to ESL classes is crucial to the success of these children. 

Below is a write up about La Costa by Coordinator Shari Deghi, as well as a Half Moon Bay Review article about Adult Ed on the Coast - then and now.

Kudos to all who stood up for the value of Adult Schools and Adult Education, worked to save and stabilize them, and now work to build and rebuild these much needed pillars of education, community, civic and economic life.

La Costa Adult School

La Costa Adult School, the newest adult school in California, serves residents from Montara to Año Nuevo on the San Mateo County coast and is affiliated with the Cabrillo and La Honda/Pescadero Unified School Districts.

La Costa has two locations: Half Moon Bay and Pescadero. Half Moon Bay just started its first classes on January 11 and already over 200 students are taking English as a Second Language (ESL) classes every Monday and Wednesday evening from 6-9 pm at Cunha School. La Costa plans to start GED/HiSET preparation classes this semester and has a waitlist for interested students.

Puente de la Costa Sur has been serving its residents with ESL classes for many years and thanks to increased funding through La Costa Adult School, it is able to increase its offerings. Puente offers ESL, GED/HiSET preparation, Language Skills for Workforce Careers, and primary/secondary education in Spanish.

La Costa works closely with Cañada College and a consortium of all the adult schools and community colleges in San Mateo County to provide education for immigrants, courses for high school equivalency, career technical education programs, apprenticeships and classes for disabled adults.

Volunteers are greatly appreciated and La Costa has current openings for credentialed teachers.

For more information, contact:

La Costa at 650-712-7140

Director Raj Bechar

Coordinator Shari Deghi

Efforts underway to restore Cabrillo adult school

By Julia Reis

Coastside educators are working to restore the Cabrillo Adult School thanks to renewed efforts at the state level to better carry out and fund adult education.

Not long after, the Half Moon Bay branch of the College of San Mateo closed its office in response to cutbacks in the San Mateo Community College District. Since then, adult education offerings on the Coastside have largely consisted of English as a second language and computer literacy classes through Cañada College. Puente de la Costa Sur has its own slate of courses, as well.

Now, Cabrillo Unified School District is gearing up to offer beginning ESL courses that would feed into Cañada’s semester-long Half Moon Bay class. The coordination with the community college is intentional, a part of state legislation passed in 2013 in response to the spate of adult school closures.
Assembly Bill 86 required districts that still had adult programs to maintain them for two years. In doing so, it also set aside $25 million to provide two-year planning and implementation grants to regional consortia made up of community college districts and school districts. The state’s directive, as outlined in the bill, was that community college and school districts should work together to develop regional plans to better serve local adults’ educational needs and avoid the duplication of services.

In San Mateo County, the consortium is known as Adult-Education College and Career Educational Leadership.

Two years after AB 86’s passage, the state responded by earmarking $500 million in the 2015-16 budget specifically for adult education. This fiscal year, funds will be apportioned first to the school districts and county offices of education that were required to maintain their adult education programs the last two years. Beginning in fall 2016, the money will be appropriated directly to the planning bodies themselves, taking into account providers’ effectiveness and need in the region.
Future funding availability will dictate how Cabrillo Adult School grows. What’s currently known is that it will serve Half Moon Bay and Pescadero and will eventually be housed at Pilarcitos High School. The school’s principal, Raj Bechar, will serve as its director.

Before its closure, Cabrillo Adult School offered a range of classes, including ESL and citizenship as well as cooking and yoga. However, the passage of AB 86 mandates that districts spend grant funding toward improving five specific types of education programs. These include classes needed for a high school diploma or equivalency, courses for immigrants, programs for disabled adults, apprenticeship and career technical education programs with high employment potential.

The revived adult school will initially focus on offering free beginning ESL courses this fall, with a start date not yet determined since the school is still in need of classroom space and teachers. Helping Bechar lead the school’s restoration is Shari Deghi, whom Cabrillo hired over the summer as its new adult school coordinator. Deghi helped start ESL classes on the coast 25 years ago and has taught at the San Mateo Adult School for the last seven years. She recalls how her interest in teaching ESL was sparked when she first moved to the Coastside and witnessed a man getting arrested for shoplifting because of a misunderstanding caused by a language barrier.

“I said, ‘We have a huge problem in the community. Shouldn’t we be able to talk to each other?’” Deghi said. “Employers have a really hard time finding unskilled laborers because their level of English is so low. There is more employability with more people speaking English. That will help provide more jobs for local people.”

Deghi added that while the adult school’s focus will be on offering ESL classes initially, the goal is for the school to host classes that benefit adults with varying needs, including those who want to acquire skills to advance in their current job or profession.

For Bechar, who assisted with Cañada College’s ESL classes at Cunha when he taught there, restoring the Cabrillo Adult School means that lives will be improved throughout the community, and not just for those taking the classes.

“Many adults have children in the district,” Bechar said. “A child with an educated parent is that much more able to succeed in school, so it helps the entire community."

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