Friday, December 21, 2012

The Wheel Turns

It's been an amazing year.

This time last year, things didn't look good.  Adult Ed was hardly on the map of the public's mind.

This made it easy to slice and dice it when the state faced a budget crisis.

And hard to explain what Adult Ed is and how it is funded - which is darned complicated, anyway.

In such a situation, we always have choices.

We can give up.  Life is hard and people are stressed and good things are hard to save and do and create.

Or we can stand up.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Good, The Confusing, The Ugly

From the Save Your Adult School blog, a very insightful analysis of the LAO (Legislative Analyst's Office) report on Adult Ed - the good, the confusing, and the ugly.

LAO Report: Restructuring California’s Adult Education System

The Good, the Confusing and the Ugly


The California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) report entitled “Restructuring California’s Adult Education System”, issued on December 5, recommends that the California legislature restore dedicated funding for California’s adult schools. This recommendation is cause for celebration for California’s adult schools, battered as they are by the financial insecurity created by “Tier III Flexibility” in 2009. Unfortunately, the LAO report also makes some recommendations that would be harmful to some of adult education’s most vulnerable students.  Additionally, some features of the general presentation of the report are likely to confuse the general public, and may have already caused a PR problem for adult schools.


The title of the report is misleading, because “adult education” in everyday usage refers to California’s adult schools, which are part of K-12 school districts.  However, the report actually examines California’s adult schools and community colleges equally, using the term “adult education” to refer to both.  In fact, many of the “confusing” and “inconsistent” state regulations criticized in the report are regulations governing community colleges, not adult schools, and these regulations do lead to some inconsistent practices in community colleges, but not in adult schools.  One of the key issues examined by the report is the lack of coordination between adult schools and community colleges, and the “confusion”, “inconsistency” and “disorganization”  described in the report refers to a lack of communication between the two systems, not to internal problems within the two organizations.


The ugly recommendations in this report are those that would hurt vulnerable students, as follows:

1. Charges for all adult literacy classes

For ESL practitioners, the most troubling feature of the report is the recommendation that all adult literacy classes begin charging a fee of $25 or so per course.  Currently  all high school diploma and adult basic education classes, as well as non-credit ESL and Citizenship classes offered by community colleges, are mandated to be offered free.  Because people in the U.S. who lack basic literacy are at a significant economic disadvantage, a “modest” fee of $25 or even less might price those who need these classes most out of an education. For students with very low literacy skills, $25 might be groceries for the week.  The LAO report does not mention a waiver for this fee.

Historically, the state of California has shown a strong commitment to adult literacy by mandating that literacy programs, such as adult basic education, adult secondary education , English as a Second Language and Citizenship classes be offered free by adult schools and as non-credit community college classes.  AB 189, which passed in 2011 and sunsets in 2015, temporarily allowed districts to charge for adult school ESL and Citizenship classes.  Rather than beginning to charge for all literacy classes, the state of California should renew its commitment to adult literacy and mandate that adult school ESL and Citizenship classes be offered free once again when a dedicated funding stream is reinstated for adult education.

2. Elimination of programs that serve older adults

This recommendation is cruel, unnecessary and discriminatory.  It is  cruel because it recommends defunding the one adult school program that is literally a matter of life and death for some students.  The frail elders who rely on these programs for accessible stimulation and social contact may decline much more quickly without them.  This recommendation is unnecessary because it proposes defunding  a program that works well for its vulnerable students, apparently in the name of some bureaucratic need for consistency. The report talks vaguely about the mission of adult education being “too broad”, but the Older Adult program is the only one specifically targeted for elimination, apparently because the LAO doesn’t think the state should spend money on any program not directly related to the workforce.

The recommendation is discriminatory  because it targets a particular group  based on age, and the report uses the language of discrimination to justify its recommendation.  The report states: “Though many types of instruction can be of value to students, we believe the ten statutorily permitted instructional areas of adult education are not all of equal  value” (page 21-22).  Yet the report does not say why programs for Older Adults are not of equal value. One is left to infer that it is because the people these programs serve are not of equal value. These people will never contribute to the economic wealth of the state again, so they are worth less. 

The LAO recommends discarding Older Adult programs without examining their value.  Older Adult programs are a low cost and effective way of serving seniors that keeps them healthy and active so they don’t need more expensive state services.  With support from Older Adult programs, many seniors volunteer, becoming positive assets to their communities.  There is some benefit, also, in giving older adults a direct stake in their local school system, since seniors vote in large numbers.  But the LAO report does not consider any of this.


The report’s recommendations about adult school funding are excellent. The report recognizes that adult schools and community colleges have separate missions and that adult schools perform equally as well as community colleges when it comes to educating adults.  It recommends that adult schools be funded as a separate categorical program within school district budgets, putting an end to Tier III Flexibility.  It recommends a plan to transition from Tier III flexibility back to categorical funding that will not shock districts that are using at least some adult school funds for other purposes (most of them are doing this).

The report recognizes that the state has put community colleges and adult schools into competition with each other, and recommends reforms to funding that will allow the two systems to collaborate. The report also recommends reforms that will help the two systems share data, such as adopting common course numbers and assessments.  It also recommends improved collection of outcome data for both adult schools and community colleges.

The report’s core recommendations about adult education, and about getting adult schools and community colleges to work together for the benefit of their students, are excellent. However, we should not let the report’s many good features excuse its bad ones.  Hopefully the legislature will enact the best features of this report, and recognizing that the bad ones are discriminatory and counter –productive, ignore them.

For a more in-depth treatment of this subject, see

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Adult Ed Needs A Seat At The Table

In mid-January, Gov. Brown will announce the new State Budget and presumably, some version of WSF - Weighted Student Formula.

Funds will be served.

We need some, too.

Adult Ed, as brought home by the Legislative Analyst's Office's report, does much good. 

Adult Ed supports parents of k-12 students (the best predictor of child school success is mother's education level); provides job training; enables immigrants to learn English, participate in US civic life, and become citizens; assists the millions of Californians who need a GED or High School diploma to get one; supplies disabled adults and their families with a means to maintain and increase the highest functioning possible; and empowers seniors to maintain and improve physical, emotional and cognitive health, lessening healthcare costs to the state, and increasing the good seniors do for the community. 

Adult Ed builds, maintains, and strengthens the economic, academic, civc and familial grids which charge our lives.

In other words, Adult Education matters. 

And because Adult Education matters, having a seat at the table when the money is handed out matters.

Do Gov. Brown and our State Legislators know that?

To make sure they do, we're delivering reminders that Adult Needs A Seat The Table.

Staff, students, and community members are using paper plates to deliver the message that Adult Ed needs a seat at the table when the funds are handed out.

Want to join in?

If you're local, stop by the San Mateo Adult School at 789 E. Poplar Ave and step into the big red building - that's the SMART Center.  Plates and pens are at the ready.

If you're not local, start your own campaign at your own Adult School.

It's easy.

1.  Buy paper plates cheaply at Costco, Smart n Final, Big Lots, or similar.
2.  Write messages on the plates.
3.  Deliver your plates to your local legislators' offices in January or make the trip to Sacramento, as we plan to.

4.  Remind your legislators that the Legislative Analyst Office's report asserts the value of Adult Education and calls for a designated funding stream for Adult Ed.  Include a link to the 7 minute video.

Exactly how the budget will divide up funds, we don't know.

Exactly what is the best way to manage and deliver Adult Education in the future, we don't know.

But we know Adult Education matters.

We know funding matters.

And we know that when the funding is served, we need a seat at the table.

Let's make sure Gov. Brown and the Legislature knows it, too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Designated Funding Matters

Just out from Edsource:

Legislative support elusive for adult ed funding plan

California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office says the state’s embattled adult education system needs a dedicated and permanent funding stream that can’t be appropriated for other school programs when the state budget goes south.

Restructuring California’s Adult Education System calls for the state Legislature to restore adult education as a categorical program. Adult Ed advocates lauded the proposal, even though it relies on funding that is speculative and requires a commitment from legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown that they have so far not shown.

Adult schools are an important strand in the state’s safety net, offering community-based classes to some of the state’s neediest adults, ranging from the unemployed, the disabled, and the elderly to ex-offenders re-entering society, immigrants trying to learn English and become citizens, and high school dropouts seeking to earn their GEDs.

Until the 2008-09 academic year, adult education was funded through one of the dozens of categorical programs that could be used only for their stated purpose. But as part of the February 2009 state budget
plan, legislators approved what’s known as “categorical flex,” giving school districts the authority to use funds from 40 categorical programs, including adult education, for any educational purpose.

Chris Nelson, State President of the California Council for Adult Education. (Photo courtesy CCAE). click to enlarge.

The LAO report says that move signaled “adult schools’ lower priority within the K-12 system.” Since then, local school boards have funneled as much as 70 percent of statewide adult ed funds to support K-12 programs, according to Chris Nelson, president of the California Council for Adult Education.

At least 35 programs have shut down as a result, and many of the 300 remaining programs are operating on shoestring budgets. Altogether, the LAO estimates that in 2011-12, the state and federal governments spent about $400 million on district-run adult schools, down from $854 million before flex started.

Many community colleges also offer adult education classes, spending about $1.7 billion last year, according to the LAO, but the colleges take that money from their regular state funding and not from separate categorical accounts.

Categorical flex is due to expire at the end of the 2014-15 school year, and the LAO is recommending that starting in 2015-16 adult education be restored as a categorical program with a dedicated funding stream. The program is a good candidate for restoration of funds, said Paul Steenhausen, who wrote the LAO report, because it reaches a distinct, underserved population.
“Adult education is a different animal,” Steenhausen said. Because it doesn’t serve K-12 students, it is “fundamentally different from other categoricals.”

However, many observers believe that the current level of flexible funding will continue beyond 2014-15 unless Gov. Brown convinces the Legislature to reconfigure the school finance system using a weighted student formula (WSF). Under this approach, money would follow the student, so schools enrolling students with greater needs, such as English learners and those from low-income families, would receive more funds. When Gov. Brown first proposed WSF last January, he didn’t support separate funding for adult education, leading advocates to oppose it.

Even the recent passage of Proposition 30, which increases funding to schools through a combination of a small sales tax increase and higher income taxes on the wealthiest Californians, has not revived support for adult education, according to Nelson.

“We’re still hearing that programs are being threatened with being cut more,” Nelson said. “I have not heard of anybody who has said they’re going to get an increase because of Prop. 30.”

Roadmap to restructuring Adult Ed, California Legislative Analyst’s Office. click to enlarge.

Instead, Nelson said he believes that school districts will be under pressure to use increased revenues to provide raises for teachers. “We’re all fighting for every little dollar, and it’s unfortunate how this has played out – one program against another.”

Nelson described the situation in Sonoma County, which had 11 adult education schools a few years ago, but has only one remaining program, in Petaluma. That program is being inundated by prospective students from all over the county. Nelson expects that Petaluma, which doesn’t have the capacity to serve so many people, will soon have to restrict its program to city residents.

One reason adult education may lack support from some legislators is the program’s uneven distribution across the state. Adult ed schools are more common in urban than rural communities.

The LAO is predicting that as the economy improves, the state will soon be receiving more funds that must be spent on K-14 education. The report recommends that some of this new money should be allocated to adult education based on regional needs and the ability of districts, colleges and local businesses to work as a team to avoid duplication of services and provide smooth pathways for students to jobs and college. The LAO also recommends that funding be allocated based on student outcomes – such as how many successfully complete courses – the way federal funds are now distributed.

But, finally, “the bigger issue is how is adult ed going to get funded,” Nelson said. “The LAO does recommend designated funding for adult ed, and that’s very key.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

LAO Calls for Dedicated Funding Stream

The Legislative Analyst Office's report "Restructuring California's Adult Education System" is now out.

(The LAO is California's Nonpartisan Fiscal and Policy Advisor)

It affirms the value of Adult Ed and notes that both K-12 and Community College delivery systems have their strengths.

Note Recommendation #4:   a dedicated stream of funding that creates incentives for cooperation among providers, with new adult education funds allocated based on regional needs.

Here is a summary of the report with links to read the report in full.

Restructuring California's Adult Education System

December 5, 2012


A century and a half after the founding of adult education in the state, we find that the system faces a number of major problems and challenges, including: (1) an overly broad mission; (2) lack of clear delineations between adult education and collegiate coursework at community colleges; (3) inconsistent and conflicting state-level policies; (4) widespread lack of coordination among providers; and (5) limited student data, which impairs the public's ability to hold the system accountable for performance. Given adult education's numerous and significant challenges, we believe the system is in need of comprehensive restructuring. This report lays out a vision and roadmap for a more efficient and effective system. Our package of recommendations includes: (1) a state-subsidized system focused on adult education's core mission; (2) common, statewide definitions that clearly differentiate between adult education and collegiate education; (3) a common set of policies for faculty and students at adult schools and community colleges; (4) a dedicated stream of funding that creates incentives for cooperation among providers, with new adult education funds allocated based on regional needs; and (5) an integrated data system that tracks student outcomes and helps the public hold providers accountable for results.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Give the Fairy Tale A Happy Ending

Education is not just a State issue.  It's a Federal issue as well.

In the following video, the California Federation of Teachers reminds us that as we approach the "fiscal cliff," we need to consider how we got here and where we want to go in the future.

The "cliff" is just a point on the journey.  It's not where we came from or where we're going - those are the places that determine how we get past the cliff and what happens when we do.

They also remind us that the average Joe and Juana and Jin and Juan and Jamal and Jane are the not the people who brought us to the edge of that cliff.

But they are the people who need a good and stable economy and good and fair chances for health, community, and success.

So consider this illuminating tale carefully.

Then give it a happy ending, by clicking here to send an email to your representatives in Congress, reminding them we the people are the ones who generate the money and we the people need it to care for ourselves as a nation.

More info about the CFT video:

Tax the rich: An animated fairy tale, is narrated by Ed Asner, with animation by award-winning artist Mike Konopacki, and written and directed by Fred Glass for the CFT.  The 8 minute video shows how we arrived at this moment of poorly funded public services and widening economic inequality. Things go downhill in a happy and prosperous land after the rich decide they don't want to pay taxes anymore. They tell the people that there is no alternative, but the people aren't so sure.  This land bears a startling resemblance to our land.  After you watch the video, you’ll be able to share it with friends, and send an email to your elected officials to let them know they need to restore higher federal income tax rates on the wealthy so that we may once more enjoy properly funded public services.  WATCH THE VIDEO, which arrives just in time to help with the fight in congress over rescinding Bush’s tax cuts for the rich. Facebook Twitter

Monday, December 3, 2012

CCAE Double Winners!

We all know CCAE is our best advocate in Sacramento.

Membership is a big win-win because it means they've got more numbers behind them and you've got the benefits and info they offer.

And now it's a win-win-win because in this holiday season, you can give someone a membership at just the half the normal price.

And bargain hunter that I am, I'm thinking, work it out with a friend and you both end up members but at half the price.

Now does that work out to yet another win-win or is that a

You decide.

Here's the info:

Price to Join:

Students and friends of Adult Ed are just 20 bucks for the year!  (That's just TEN BUCKS now!)

Teachers are range from $30 to $75 a year, depending on how many hours they work.
(What's half of that with the special deal? 
Work it out, Teachers!)

Classified Personnel (Staff) are 20 to 30, again
depending on hours (Do the math for half!)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Federal Funding At Risk: Letters Needed

This blog has focused primarily on the challenge of adequate state funding  - but federal funding is also at issue and at risk.

More on this later, for now, here is information about letters needed immediately.

Help Stop Devastating Federal Education Budget Cuts
Please Send Your Letter to California's Congressional Members Today
The risk is real. Unless Congress takes action before January 1, 2013, California will lose more than 8.2% in federal funding for education programs across the board. No programs is sacred. Cuts will occur in every single program from Pre-K to postsecondary education. Title I, Special Education, Impact Aid, Carl Perkins and many more programs will receive an automatic 8.2% cut within the next California fiscal year (2013-2014) unless Congress reverses course on the Budget Control Act.
This week members of Congress will be debating how to address tax cuts and sequestration before reaching the so called "fiscal cliff."
Click here to view a sample letter and ACSA's letter to Congress. Please take the time to share how a 8.2% cut will impact your students.
Send a personalized letter today by clicking here

Monday, November 26, 2012

One More Mountain

Next on the horizon:

WSF and negotiating how that plays out for Adult Ed.

Click the "read more" link to learn more.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks

Tomorrow's Thanksgiving!
And we have a lot to be thankful for.

Hit the "read more" link to read about it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Happens Next?

Post-Prop 30 webcast

The passage of Prop 30 will have big ramification for school districts. On Thursday, at 2 p.m., you can hear the perspectives of key policymakers and state experts in a webinar hosted by School Services of California, Inc., the Sacramento-based education consulting firm.

Panelists will include Joel Montero, CEO, Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT); Molly McGee Hewitt, executive director, California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO); Rick Simpson, deputy chief of staff, Assembly Speaker’s Office; John Gray, executive vice president, School Services of California and Robert Miyashiro, vice president, School Services of California. A link to the webcast will also be available directly from School Service of California’s homepage.

No login information is required. An archive will also be available on Friday on the homepage.

Prop 30 Passed!

This is the short version.

Prop 30 passed!!!

No trigger cuts!!!

Today's a day for celebration!

I was about to add "for those who value public education" when I thought... no, it's a day of celebration for everyone because public education benefits EVERYONE.


Edsource article on Prop 30 win, analyzing how and why.

SF Chronicle article on Prop 30 win.

LA Times article on Prop 30 win.

And... it appears that Dems will most likely have a supermajority in the State House.  This will change things up where the budget is concerned.  Traditionally, a big part of the struggle about education has been how to pay for it.  Republicans resist an increase in taxes to fund education.  They will not be able to stonewall now.  On the other hand, Gov. Brown has said he will only increase taxes if the people vote for it. 

Of course...  EVERYONE in the State House could work TOGETHER to find a way to fund, support and improve public education.  A good idea considering public education benefits EVERYONE, not just Democrats. 

And not just Democrats value it, either. 

Working together is hard but valuable.

Let's do it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

In It Together

Well, it's almost here... election time. 

Some school boards have passed resolutions in support of  Prop 30.

Ours has not.  That doesn't mean it is against Prop 30.  It just means it didn't vote on a formal recommendation.

We here at the San Mateo Adult School cannot tell you how to vote.

We can tell you there will be big - very big - trigger cuts if Prop 30 does not pass.

But we cannot tell you how to vote.

And indeed, perhaps if it fails, some other way to educate Californians would emerge - public, private, good, or bad.

I don't know.

I am here to talk about something else:

Hit the "read more" link to find out what.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Call To Action

City College is in big trouble.

On top of the budget cuts all schools face if Prop 30 doesn't pass,
it is struggling with ongoing budget problems, accreditation problems,
and, I would add, a general lack of understanding of how public education is funded, how things work at CCSF (and why), and how and why every branch of public education is crisis.
Last last Thursday night, Oct 25th, at a Board meeting that went past midnight, the Board voted to appoint a Special Trustee with full veto powers, to oversee more cuts and changes.

Many people - Faculty, Students, Community Members - are unhappy about what happened and how.

Here is their response:  A Call To Action.

Will you join them?

You are invited to participate in a public education event to which the press has been invited.

WHAT: City College Takes Back the Truth!

WHEN: Thursday, November 1 at 1 p.m. Assemble at 12:45 and end by 1:30.

WHERE: Steps just below the front entrance to the Science Hall under the engraving in stone:
“The Truth Shall Make You Free”

WHY: The ongoing economic crisis is destroying public education. We must take it back along with the truth.

Wear black (for mourning) or red (for rebirth).
Bring a book you love and/or the book for your next class.
Participate peacefully, respectfully, and calmly.
You will receive participation instructions at the event.

Click on this link to see the AFT 2121 flyer. Please post and encourage people, especially students, to attend this event.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Where It's Going

The Munger Siblings are spending 54 million dollars on the election.

Yes, that's right.





Molly wants yes on 38, no on 30. Her brother Charles, Jr wants no on 38 and 30 and yes on 32.

Fifty Four Million Dollars.

Not on schools.

But maybe on this:

And how did all those actors and actresses and tech people and camera people and writers and editors and printers and publicists learn how to do all that stuff?

In school, of course.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jack Gerson on the Privatization of Education

As promised, here is the video of Jack Gerson's appearance at the San Mateo Adult School last Tuesday.

His appearance was hosted by the AFT Teachers' Union, Local 4681.

This is very powerful information and definitely worth viewing and reflecting upon.

It's our state.  Our culture.  Our people.  Our future.

What do we want?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why Have Public Education For Adults?

Merrill Vargo writes the following article (appearing in EdSource, Oct 23, 2012) about Common Core standards.

Common Core standards are used in K-12 (Kindergarten through 12th grade) schools.  The idea is that schools agree on what students need to prepare them for life - future schooling, work, civic and community responsibilities.

I'm posting the article here because the questions and issues she raises apply to Adult Education, as well.

Why have public education for adults?

Keep that question in mind as you read her article.

 Hit the "read more" link to read it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

CCAE Wants To Know


CCAE Bay Section Members attend the "Yes" on Prop 30 rally organized by Assemblymember Susan Bonilla on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 in Todos Santos Plaza in downtown Concord, California.

CCAE - The California Council of Adult Education - knows that the future of Adult Education depends on Prop 30 passing.  They have put the call for Adult Schools across the state to get the word out
and they want to know Adult Schools are doing - so they can let the Governor and his staff what the Adult Education community is doing to make sure Prop 30 passes. 

Read more below.

From the CCAE Communicator October 2012:

The Future of California Adult Schools and Proposition 30

The current status of Adult Education in California is precarious at best.  Chris Nelson, CCAE State President, and I have been working closely with our counterparts in California Adult Education Administrators Association and Dawn Koepke, our policy advisor and advocate.  We have weekly conversations to identify crucial issues and a multitude of strategies and efforts have been conducted over the past many months. While inroads have clearly been made with the legislative bodies, it has become abundantly clear that we have huge walls to climb in the Governor’s office.  We are continuing our dialogues and work, but need everyone to understand how critical it is that we be able to deliver a message to the Governor’s office that California adult education supporters worked diligently to ensure that Proposition 30 passes. 

We all understand the direct connection between fiscal challenges faced by K-12 and High School Districts that are also the “homes” for an adult education programs or schools.  We have many challenges ahead of us, but if Proposition 30 does not pass – these efforts may become moot as school districts are forced to make more reductions.  All educators know the potential “hits” will be devastating.

That is why it is critical that we all do everything we can to help the public understand the importance of voting yes for Proposition 30.  Equally as important is that we are able to let the Governor and his staff know that California Adult Education supporters were influential in the success of Proposition 30.

There are many local campaign efforts for Proposition 30.  Please seek those out and participate.  Organize your own local events, specifically hosted by your CCAE Chapters and Sections.  THEN, document, record, photograph, video – show how adult education supporters specifically worked to support Proposition 30 and send that documentation to Chris Nelson and me.  We will compile it all and make sure that the message is delivered to the Governor.

Joanne Durkee, CCAE State Leg Chair

My email address is

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thoughts in This Time of "Crisis"

Teacher Bruce Neuberger shares these thoughts:

I went out with some Prop 30 materials Friday after class.  I went to some local stores, Los Primos, a cleaner next to that, some other businesses up around 3rd and B.  I ran out of materials very quickly.  The response was very positive especially when I identified myself from the Adult School.  It occurred to me, we've been looking at this work around the propositions as a "task to be done", "burdened to be carried", etc.  Actually, I now feel like it's a great opportunity, one that we should not pass up.  It's an excuse to walk in the doors of these stores and find out how people feel and give them info that they may not have.  There are so many ways inwhich we are connected to these store people -- one told me his wife and mother have both attended the school, others had workers attending or had attended, others friends, etc.  When I got back to school I talked to Toshio and Cynthia and another idea came up -- mobilize those willing and able among our students to go with us to these areas.  There are a lot of advantages to this.  And it's not just about the propositions, it's also a longer term issue.  

I very strongly feel we need to do this.  Remember Chicago.  Their success came largely from developing ties with the community.  The school is a community resource, and the community is our base, and in the final analysis, the strength that we have.

From myself (Teacher Cynthia):

I agree with Bruce. 

It's about community.

Yes, things are difficult.

Yes, we don't know the ultimate outcome.

Yes, it is easy and even likely that given those two things, we will feel powerlesss, overwhelmed, and discouraged...  all of which make it more likely that the outcome will be bad.

And yet... by considering what is important to us... and then making a choice about what we want... and then choosing to work for it... 

We not only feel powerful, energized and encouraged... we make it more likely that the outcome will be good.

Is there every a sure thing?

More importantly, do we need a sure thing in order to engage in the process?

If we need to know the outcome in advance before we engage in the process, we are emotional three year olds, stamping out feet and loudly announcing, "I won't do this because I want what I want and unless you give it to me without my doing anything or unless I know for sure that my doing something I don't like doing will give me what I want... I won't do it!"

And guess what happens to three year olds when they do that?

Well, it varies, family to family.

But sure as heck, they are not put in charge.  They don't end up driving the car, deciding where the family lives, or what happens tomorrow, next month or next year.

I for one, want some measure of choice about what happens to the school where I work, the community where I live, and the future where I hope to live - with my friends and my family and my neighbors - tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

And if the price of that is surrendering control...

If the price of that is participating in a process where the outcome is unknown...

where it might not go "my way" -

then I'm willing to pay it.

Because what I really want, in the long run, is a way that is not about "sure things" and "known outcomes" and "guarantees."

"Known" shuts the door on the unknown and its in the unknown that we often we find the answers we're looking for.

How we do create a good, sustainable, way to educate the people of California?

I don't know.

But I want to be part of the process of finding that out.

Won't you join me?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lehman Brothers - Four Years Later

Fall of 2008.

Remember then?

Obama was the new guy.

Tina Fey was doing a dead-on impression of Sarah Palin on SNL.

And Wall Street was starting to collapse.

In mid-September, 2008, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy.

What does that have to do with Adult Education and Public Education, in general?

Well, a lot, actually.

There is a connection between Wall Street and Main Street.

And there is a connection between Lehman Brothers and the San Mateo Adult School.

We'll focus on just the latter in this post.

When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, San Mateo lost $155 million dollars.

Yes, that's one hundred and fifty five million dollars.

And some of that money was for schools.

As Principal of San Mateo High School Yvonne Shiu wrote in November of 2008:

 School districts in California are required to deposit their cash with the county in which that school district resides. The schools in San Mateo County recently lost $155 million due to the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. SMUHSD’s estimated loss will be approximately $5.8 million; including interest not gained. The loss will be spread across all the District’s funds including the General, Cafeteria, Adult, Building, Capital Facilities, Special Reserve and Trust funds, with the greatest impact on the General and Building funds.

And that, my friends, was the beginning of where we find ourselves now... fighting to justify our shrinking right to a shrinking slice of an ever-shrinking pie. 

But... there is good news.

Today, The San Mateo Daily Journal's headline read:

Legal Victory for County in Lehman Case:  Court Rules Entities Can Pursue Claims in 2008 Financial Collapse.

Click here to read the article in full.

In our crazy, busy world, it's easy to forget what happened yesterday, let alone four years ago. 

But knowing what happened four years or forty four or four hundred and forty four years ago often tells us why something is happening today.

That's one of the benefits of public education.

A good free public education helps everyone understand why we have the choices we have today and empowers them to make the best choices possible for tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Presentation on Privatization Wed Oct 17


Wednesday, October 17th, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm, at the San Mateo Adult School, in Room 42, there will be a presentation and discussion on the privatization of education hosted by the Teachers Union AFT Local #4681.

Jack Gerson will speak on the subject and field questions.

Click here to read the full post on the subject.

If you can't make the event, you can catch it on video later.  We will post it here.

You can also watch this video, which includes Jack Gerson and others speaking on the same topic.

What We Agree On

Articles of interest:

"Will The Munger Kids Kill California Schools?"  The American Prospect, Oct 11, 2012.
More on how Molly and Charles, Jr. while engaged in what appears to be sibling rivalry, work in common purpose to ensure the defeat of Prop 30.

Prop 30's Donors Include Big Companies,"  The San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 15, 2012.
A new interesting twist:  Big Business seems to be coming around to the idea that public education is good and important.  One can analyze that many ways but in all ways this development is important.

"Prop 38 Proponent To Stop Airing TV Ad Critical of Prop 30,"  The Los Angeles Times, Oct 16, 2012.  Looks like Munger's own supporters pressured her into removing the attack ad on Prop 30. 

My own take-away on all this:

Millions and millions of Californians - young, old, rich, poor, big business, small business, coastal, inland, north, south - are recognizing that education matters.

How we pay for what we pay for - we do not yet agree on.

But we all agree:  Education matters.

That's a good place to start.

                                                           Where this blog started.

Monday, October 15, 2012

At Risk: Adult Schools in California

EdSource has an excellent article, "At Risk:  Adult Schools in California."

Click and download to read the entire article.

Here's the opening overview:

Adult schools are facing the biggest threat to their existence since the first school was founded in California a century and a half ago.  An EdSource survey in October-November 2011 found that 23 of the state's 30 largest school districts had made major cuts to their adult education programs, including Anaheim Union High School District, which eliminated their 73-year-old program in 2010-11.

This spring, the Los Angeles Unified School District threatened to close its entire adult education program.  But in a tentative agreement with union negotiators reached on June 8, the district agreed to maintain the program, though at a much smaller level.

Adult education programs are an important strand in the state's safety net, offering community-based classes to some of the state's neediest adults ranging from the unemployed, the disabled, and the elderly to ex-offenders re-entering society and immigrants trying to learn English and become citizens.

In California, English as a Second Language (ESL) is by far the largest adult education program.  The second-largest is the GED/high school diploma program, followed by job training classes through career-technical programs.  In recent years, adult schools have served more than 1 million students annually, but there is no accurate count of how much enrollments have declined as a result of the state's budget crisis.

Click on the link above to read the full article.

Priorities: Schools, not Prisons!

NorCal and SoCal understand and agree: 

Our priority should be schools - not prisons.

Sam Davis tells a powerful story and makes many good points, including:

1.  Education can prevent crime by giving people options
2.  Over the past 30 years, prison spending has gone up 30 times
3.  Many adult schools closed.
4..  And tuition (at the CSU system) has tripled.
5..  The state is spending way more on prisons than on education.
6.  Our priorities have reversed.

Two Teachers and a Microphone lay it out straight:  We need preschools - not prisons.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

For Adult Ed Supporters: New Listserve

We have a new listserve for everyone who cares about Adult Education.

Yes, I know, we had a list serve.  But it was yahoogroups and it was not a good fit for our needs.  You had to have a yahoo email to join.

This is better.

And what is a listserve, you ask?  A good, bad or better one?

A list serve is a way for many people to communicate, as a group, through email.

If you send an email to the group on the listserve, everyone in the group gets the email.

So it's an easy way to share information quickly with many other people.

In this case, people - teachers, students, administrators, alumni, community members - who care about Adult Education.

Here is more info:

Adult Education Matters is dedicated to improving communication among
California adult schools, all those who support adult schools, and all
supporters of public education in order to fight more effectively against
devastating budget cuts and closures. Adult Education Matters supports all
public education and advocates full funding for public education at all
levels, including K-12, colleges and universities, ROP, and adult schools. We
welcome teachers, students, administrators, school staff, parents, children,
and anyone who wants to make California's schools a paragon of public

The list homepage:

General informations about mailing lists:
If you want to join the listserve, please visit the homepage and follow the instructions to join.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why Do We Need City College?

Reminder:  City College of San Francisco provides Adult Education classes to the people of San Francisco (and beyond).

Adult Education is provided under the shelter of either High School Districts or Community College Districts.

The San Mateo Adult School is under the shelter of the (very wonderful) San Mateo Union High School District.

Most Adult Education programs are set up this way, including the very, very big Adult Education program in Los Angeles, which was recently cut waaaaay back but thanks to the hard work of thousands of people, not slashed to the bone.

But in San Francisco, Adult Education is provided by the Community College District - and called non-credit.

CCSF (the Mother Ship) is under several guns.

Gun Number One:  Like all forms of public education in California - State Preschools, K-12, Adult Education, Community Colleges, State Universities, and the University of California - it faces big cuts if Proposition 30 doesn't pass.

Gun Number Two:  CCSF faces disaccreditation.

Gun Number Three: Because it provides Adult Education, and because with the relatively new "flexibility" policity, Adult Education is always the "expendable" chair leg, CCSF's non-credit classes (the Adult Education classes) are sitting ducks.

As has been said here before: 

These are difficult times. 

Choices must be made. 

What do we choose?

CCAE Sounds The Alarm

CCAE - The California Council of Adult Education - sent out this alert this morning:

Hello CCAE Bay Section Members:  
This is an ACTION ALERT! Prop 30 needs our support & urgent action. Please see the EdBrief update on Prop 30, yellow-highligted in the newsletter below. Join in your local community events now & make sure all know that our professional associations, CCAE & CAEAA, which represent Calfirornia Adult Education public support Prop 30.
And here is the EdBrief update on Prop 30:

October 4, 2012

A majority of California voters support a November ballot initiative that would temporarily increase the state’s income tax on high earners and raise the sales tax to support education – but this support has taken a tumble in the last few months, according to the latest results from the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll.
Backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, Prop. 30 would raise the state income tax on those earning more than $250,000 a year for seven years and increase the sales tax by a quarter of a cent to fund public education and public safety.

In the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll (released on Sept. 28), 54 percent of voters said they support Prop. 30, while 37 percent oppose the measure when read the ballot language. This is a decline in support of nearly 10 percentage points since March 2012, when the poll showed 64 percent of Californians in support of the measure, and 33 percent opposed.

Support for Prop. 30 declined even more when voters were read two brief statements outlining positions for and against the measure. The first statement said, “after years of deficit spending, Governor Brown has cut billions in spending. We have made progress but we still have serious budget problems” and argued we should take a stand against further cuts to education and public safety, make the wealthy pay their fair share and help balance the budget.

The second statement said “Sacramento politicians need to cut wasteful spending before raising our taxes” and mentioned high-speed rail and salary increases in Sacramento. When read these statements, support for the initiative dropped to 48 percent of voters in favor, and 43 percent against the measure.
“Californians are usually very resistant to raising taxes on themselves, but the prospect of big spending cuts to public education has helped Proposition 30 preserve its lead,” said Dan Schnur, Director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and Director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. “But any initiative that that is so close to 50 percent in the polls is vulnerable, and these results show that the opposition message is convincing. The question is whether the opposition has the money to make sure their message is heard.”

But while overall support for Brown’s ballot proposition has declined, the intensity of support for the measure has increased slightly. In March 2012, 37 percent of voters strongly favored Prop. 30, compared to 41 percent who strongly favor it in the latest poll, conducted Sept. 17-23.
“Intensity matters in a ballot issue and who votes, and while the level of support for Prop. 30 has gone down over three polls and there is still a majority, this one looks to be very close,” said Stan Greenberg, CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a Democratic polling firm that conducted the poll with Republican polling firm American Viewpoint.

Support for Prop. 30 was starkly split along age, with 75 percent of 18-29 year-old voters supporting the measure, compared to 46 percent of those 50 and over.

Overall, Democratic voters were 69-20 in support of Prop. 30, Republican voters were 28-64, and voters who indicated no party preference were 58-32.

“The news out of Sacramento has been creating downward pressure on Proposition 30, and the more voters hear about it, the less likely they are to support it,” said Dave Kanevsky, Research Director of American Viewpoint. “This is a ballot measure that could die a death by a thousand cuts.”


One of those thousand cuts could be the competing November ballot initiative backed by attorney Molly Munger, which would raise income taxes for most Californians on a sliding scale. Munger’s initiative, Prop. 38, was opposed by a majority of voters in the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll.

Fifty-two percent of voters oppose Prop. 38, while 34 percent support it. When read an additional statement describing the fiscal impact of the initiative — including $10 billion in new revenues over the next two years — the numbers barely budged, with 50 percent opposing the initiative and 39 percent in favor.
“It’s very rare to see support for an initiative grow as the campaign goes on,” Schnur said. “Munger’s chances are slim, but with her first ads directly engaging Prop. 30, this could have an effect on the Governor’s initiative.”


Voters largely support the recent law limiting public employee pensions and raising the retirement age – and they may have the appetite for more, according to the latest USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll.

Forty-five percent of voters agreed with a statement that the law is a fair, balanced solution that makes some much-needed changes to balance the budget long-term, while also protecting public employees.

But 39 percent of voters said that the largest pension reform in California history did not go far enough, arguing that public employees continue to receive much more generous pensions than people who work in the private sector and that the reforms only tackle a fraction of the state’s pension obligations.

The law also caps benefits for the highest-paid employees. Overall, 20 percent of voters said the reform went too far, including 34 percent of Latino voters. Thirty percent said the law did not go far enough, and 31 percent said it struck a good balance between reforming the pension system and reducing the impact of pensions on the state debt.

“Jerry Brown needed a pension reform package that passed the smell test with voters in order to pass his ballot initiative,” Schnur said. “It appears he got enough to help him in November, but in the long run there is further appetite for pension reform.”

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll was conducted from Sept. 17-23, 2012, by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Republican polling firm American Viewpoint. The full sample of 1,504 registered voters has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.

Additional poll results and methodology are available at

Editor's Note:  USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll