Saturday, July 14, 2018

CFT Local 4681 Endorses AB 2098 - Immigrant Integration Metrics

San Mateo Federation of Teachers
Local 4681 of
California Federation of Teachers
Representing the Teachers of San Mateo Adult School

July 14, 2018

Re:  AB 2098 (McCarty and Thurmond) - Support

Dear Assembly Members McCarty and Thurmond,

We the teachers of CFT Local 4681 are writing to thank you for authoring  AB 2098 -
the bill that establishes immigrant integration metrics. We are very much in support of it.

We are teachers at San Mateo Adult School.  Most of us teach English as a Second Language.  
Others teach in the GED and High School Diploma, Career Tech Education, or Fifty Plus (Older Adults)
programs. Our school is part of ACCEL, the Regional Consortium providing Adult Education for the
County of San Mateo.

A few facts about the area we serve:

  • As of 2010, San Mateo County ranked fourth among counties in California and eight across the nation in the concentration of foreign-born residents.
  • Between 2000 and 2010 San Mateo County’s immigrant population increased more than any other county in California, from 25.5 to 33.3 percent.
  • Learn more about Immigrants in San Mateo County

Our school excels at immigrant integration.  We are often cited as a model of “how to do it” for
other Adult Schools and Adult Ed programs throughout the state.  

Examples of immigrant integration in action at our school:

Adult Education was restructured during the period of public education cutbacks following the global
financial meltdown.   The focus was narrowed from a broad mission that had always included
immigrant integration to college and career readiness.  It’s place in the budget was even changed
from K-12 and/or Higher Ed to Work Force.

College and career are important.  But they don’t stand unless they are founded on community.
As we see when we look at the current state of our nation - this is not just about Adult Education or
immigrants.  This is about human beings and what enables us to function in healthy ways. STEM - without ethics - becomes abuse.  Knowledge - without values - is dangerous. A nation - without civics - courts collapse. Human beings - however much they seem able to thanks to technology - do not live in isolation.  They - we - live in community. In order to do so relatively peacefully, with some measure of health for both the group and the individuals which constitute it, we must understand each other, have and use relational skills, abide by a set of common rules and customs, and agree on methods to address the problems which invariably arise.

Adult Education has always emphasized these points and taught the skills that support them --
until it was restructured in the recent financial collapse.  In the midst of a recession, one can
understand how an emphasis on workforce skills might seem the answer. But back up a minute
and look at how we got into that financial meltdown.  Were the bankers and Wall Street executives
responsible for that catastrophe gainfully employed? Very much so. What then, caused the collapse? Failure to regulate themselves or their industry - a lack of ethics - was embedded in what happened.  Workforce training isn’t all of what is needed in the midst of a recession. That’s why the New Deal included more than just jobs - it included civic renewal projects, banking regulation, history, the arts, and protection for labor.    

Employment alone also does nothing to inoculate against divisiveness.  Again, we need only to look
around at the current state of affairs in our nation to understand that a job doesn’t stop bullying,
cruelty, or abuse.  It doesn’t stop trolling on the Internet, hacking of elections, or manipulation of
public sentiment. It doesn’t prevent hatred from seeping into civic and workplace discourse or
slow the march of the KKK in our city streets.  Education does - education that includes an emphasis
on our common values, rule of law, and underlying unity.

Immigrant integration - skillful, ethical civic and community engagement - sets the compass for
immigrants to function as powerful engines of civic, community and economic health  - in addition
to functioning at top level as parents, family, and neighbors.

This is what we want, right?  We want residents of California to speak a common language, to be
great parents raising great kids, friendly neighbors who pitch in and help out in times of need,
coworkers with skills to help workplaces thrive and businesses excel, contributors to the mighty
enterprise that is California, shoulders to the wheel, hearts open and wide, hands ready to help.   

That’s only possible when immigrants have the skills that immigrant integration programs provide.

If AB 2098 doesn’t pass through into law, we fear that these programs will lose funding. In fact just
today we found out that funding for our EL Civics program was cut by half.

In today’s world, what isn’t measured, often isn’t seen and isn’t funded.

It’s urgent that AB 2098 is pushed forward into law.  If we can help you in that work,
by providing you with evidence of the value of immigrant integration programs, let us know.  
We have plenty of evidence at our school and are ready to provide it in writing or by speaking at
committee hearings.

On behalf of the members of CFT Local 4681,

Cynthia Eagleton
Vice President of CFT Local 4681
ESL Teacher at San Mateo Adult School

Slide from San Mateo Adult School
 Student Leader Presentation about
Student Leadership and Immigrant Integration
Presented at the
2017 CCAE Bay Conference 

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