April 26, 2020
Re: Stable Funding for Adult Education
I’m a veteran ESL Teacher at San Mateo Adult School, former union officer in our local CFT 4681, and a representative on the CFT Adult Ed Committee. I’m a member of CCAE - the California Council for Adult Education. I author the Adult Education Matters blog. I work with other advocates around the state to reveal the secret that Adult Ed is the hidden gem of California.
I am writing to you about the possibility that Adult Education may once again see horrific cuts - and what a disaster that would be for California.
We know that the current pandemic is severely affecting the economy and will for a while. We know the revised budget for California will need to be leaner and it necessarily be “meaner” in several difficult but necessary ways. We know that the choices we make now will be long-lasting and will shape what comes after probably for decades - similar to decisions made during the Great Depression and World War II.
That’s why I’m writing to ask you to ensure that funding for Adult Education remains STABLE.
I am very concerned that where Adult Ed is concerned, there might be a repeat of what happened the last time we had a less severe economic downturn. In 2008, when Wall Street crashed into Main Street, Governor Schwarzenneger flexed K12 Adult Ed funding so that K12 Districts could use it to survive their own cuts - forgetting that Adult Ed educates and supports the families and communities raising the kids the K12 districts serve.
This was disastrous on multiple levels. Over 70 Adult Schools closed, all were cut, and Californians across the state lost access to ESL, Job Training, Citizenship, GED, High School Diploma Programs, Parent Education, Financial and Health Literacy, and Older Adults Programs.
When Governor Brown restructured Adult Education, he narrowed it to a more “workforce” focus, eliminating funding for Financial Literacy, Home Economics (Life Skills!), Parent Education, and Older Adults Programs, forgetting that ending free Financial LIteracy programs right after a housing meltdown in which thousands of Californians lost their homes was not a wise idea and that life skills are crucial to community health (See: Problems with Pandemics), and that Parent Education and Older Adults programs support healthy communities which raise healthy kids, lower medical costs, and boost community contributions.
What will happen now? What rationalization might be used to eliminate Adult Ed funding or narrow the focus even more?
We know - already - that this pandemic is going to reshape our culture, state, and economy in deep and long-lasting ways. We need to think carefully about what we fund and why as we work our way out of it and into a post-pandemic California.
We need low-cost programs that encourage physical, mental, economic, family, community, and civic health ---- THAT’S ADULT EDUCATION!
Some industries - such as the restaurant and entertainment industries - will be deeply impacted for a while. Those Californians who were working in these jobs will need free or low-cost, short-term job training in new fields ---- THAT’S ADULT EDUCATION!
We need Californians to be able to support their kids in school - including understanding how to help them navigate a new world of remote learning, make community contributions, and engage in civic matters - THAT’S ADULT EDUCATION!
We need every California to have free or low-cost, easy access to the education they need to move out of this difficult crisis and into a recovery that serves and lifts everyone - THAT’S ADULT EDUCATION!
Adult Education is part of the COVID Recovery Team!
But if it’s defunded? It can’t play its important role on that team - the community base, turn on a dime, low cost member who is always there in a crunch and a crisis to help the team win the game.
PLEASE do everything you can to ensure Adult Education remains funded at the amount it is now.
Connect with other legislators. Jose Medina and Kevein McCarthy in the Assembly are folks who know and understand - from lived experience - the value of Adult Ed.