Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Show Up and Speak Up

Showing up and speaking up make a difference.

An Occupy Education rally took place took place at the San Mateo Adult School on Thursday, March 1st and the Occupy Education March to Sacramento was Monday, March 5.

You can see photos from Occupy Education events at the San Mateo Adult School and in San Francisco here. Thanks to Teacher David for showing up and speaking up, taking photos, and sharing them with us. And thanks to Student Mario for the photo taken at the March to Sacramento event. Mario showed up and spoke up, as well.

At both these events, people pushed for the Millionaire's Tax, a measure that would have taxed the top 1% of California earners in order to benefit education.

On March 14th, Governor Brown reached a compromise with the backers of the Millionare's Tax.

The compromise is a better deal for schools than Gov. Brown's original proposal.

You can read more about the more compromise here.

Important: all these proposals - Brown's proposal, the Millionaire's Tax, the Governor's Compromise - are just that: proposals.

None of them are even on the ballot yet.

We must collect signatures to put the Governor's Compromise on the ballot in November of 2012.

And then it must pass.

If it doesn't, we are in big trouble.

The good news is that if we continue to show up and speak up, we can make sure it passes.

We can save our educational system from disaster. And we can rebuild it, too. Step by step.

You can take a step right now by sharing this information with others. Talk to friends, family and neighbors about the situation or share this blog with them.

One of the many important things adult education provides is classes in citizenship. Immigrants learn about US history, democratic principles, both the rights and responsibilities of citizenry.

Speaking up and showing up is not just our right. It is our responsibility.

This is democracy in action.

Be a part of it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Choosing Health and Stability

You can think of education in California as a four-legged chair.

Picture a good, strong kitchen chair with four strong legs.

Leg 1. Our K-12 system to educate kids from kindergarten through twelth grade.

Leg 2. Our community college system to provide AA degrees and a jumping off point to four-year universities.

Leg 3. Our university system - state universities and the University of California - to provide four year and graduate and professional degrees.

Leg 4. Our adult education system - to educate immigrants in English and civics, to help those who fell through the cracks in K-12 with high school dipoloma and GED programs, to help adults of all backgrounds gain vocational training, to offer parent education, and to provide seniors with classes that strengthen and maintain physical, cognitive, and social/emotional function. In a sense, this fourth leg supports all the others, by supporting the the most vulnerable people in our community, as well as by supporting parents of K-12 and college students.

Now trim one of those legs so that it is shorter than the others. Or cut it off entirely. Keep trimming and hacking. What's the result?


Maybe even collapse.

That is what is happening to education now in California.

Here is some of what is happening to two of the "chair legs" that support the people of California:

"Cal State to Close Door on Spring 2013 enrollment."

"SF City College Slashing Summer School enrollment."
"Community Colleges Chief Decries Budget Cuts' Toll on Students."
"Santa Monica College's Two Tier Trap."

At some point, we have to ask ourselves:

What is happening?

Where is this going?

Who is responsible for this?

We know that what is happening is bad. We are slowly destroying what was once a very good educational system in this state. A system that servied people of all ages and backgrounds.

A system that kept the state, as a whole, healthy and functioning.

We don't know where it's going, not exactly. We know it's getting bad. We know it can get worse. How much worse? We don't know.

Who is responsible for this? We are.

Everything that is happening is the result of our choices: Our choice to vote or not to vote and who and what to vote for when we do. To sign or not sign to get a proposition on the ballet. To stay informed or put our heads in the sand. To attend a school board meeting or not. To run for office or not. To attend a PTA meeting or not. To vote for a parcel tax or not. To protest another increase in the cost of UC or not. To become a citizen. Or not. To think and educate ourselves about what is happening and what we can choose to do about it. Or not.

We are making choices that affect us, as a whole. As a state.

We make these choices as individuals but they are choices that affect all of us.

And by the same token, the choices that others make on a collective levels, we feel as individuals.

We feel it, when we can't send our son or daughter to college or university because it's out of our price range. We feel it, when we can't communicate in English with someone because there is no adult school to teach them English. When we can't adequately care for aging parents because there are no services - exercise classes, social programs, mental fitness classes - to connect them to. When we can't find employees with the skills and training needed to perform a job well. When we can't feel good about the education our children are getting and we consider paying for extra education through high-priced private programs.

Public education supports us. It enables us to care for ourselves and to continue, as a group, into the future.

Why are we, the people of California, choosing to destroy it?

What is the value in that choice?

Who benefits from such a choice?

Not us, the people of California.

Just as a family has the duty to care for family members, to nurture the children, tend to the sick, care for the aged, and function socially and economically as a whole, we have a duty as Californians to care for ourselves, to keep ourselves healthy - physically, mentally, socially, economically, now and into the future.

If we don't, we will suffer the consequences, both an individual and a collective level.

Tough as circumstances are right now in this economy and with the unique challenges that we as Californians face, we can choose health.

There are choices available now, AB 18 and The Governor's Compromise, that can help us regain health as a state.

I'll provide more information about those choices in the next post.

Friday, March 16, 2012

How Things Work - Part 2

In order to understand what is going on now in adult education, we need to understand how things used to be.

Funding prior to 08-09:

Adult Schools were a categorical program. Examples of other categorical programs are school lunches and special education. You can go to
to see a list of what categoricals were in 2010-2011.

Categoricals received funding based on student attendance hours, also known as average daily attendance (ADA). In other words, the more students came to school and sat in seats and learned things, the more funding there was for the programs that were helping them.

School districts could not take money from one categorical program and use it for another purpose. For this reason, adult education - and all other categoricals - had protected funding.

And important to understand: this was how it always was. Year after year after year for decades, this was how adult education - and other categoricals - were funded.

Funding from 08-09 to present (and by statute until 14-15):

School districts receive money for categoricals from the state in a lump sum based on how much money was received in 07-08 minus 20%. School districts can now use any categorical money for any purpose. This is called flexibility. In other words, money for adult education can now be used for other school district's needs.

Important to remember: School districts all across the state are hurting. There have been cutbacks of all kinds. They sometimes need the money from categorical programs like adult education to prop up their own important programs. In other words: educational programs are now pitted against each other.

Adult education helps kids. Educating parents, especially mothers, has a big impact on the achievement of their children. Taking away the opportunities for parents to gain skills in English, literacy, obtain GEDs or high school diplomas, and increase job skills does not help children do better in school.

But the way the situation is set up now, school districts are often forced to make such hard choices.

We know that as things stand now, we are in trouble. Schools are suffering. Students of all ages are suffering. The cost of higher education is going up and up. Adult education is being cutback or completely cut.

Change is needed. People at all levels - Gov. Brown, the State Legislature, schoolboards, school administrators, teachers, support staff, students, teachers' unions, parents, and community members are all discussing how to deal with this situation.

Various things have been proposed. Gov. Brown had a proposal for a change - including raising taxes and increasing sales tax. There has also been a proposal for a "Millionaire's Tax" which increase tax on the highest incomes.

On Thursday, a compromise was struck between these two proposals.

Important to remember: this compromise is a just a proposal. If enough signatures are gathered, it will go on the ballot and people will vote on it. It may or may not pass.

If it passes, there will be more money in the general fund for the state of California. And education is one the things that the general fund pays for.

How much money flows into the pot for education is one issue.

The other issue is back to where we started: do the various educational programs each get a share of that money? Or are they pitted against each other?

Here is what Brown proposes:

Brown 2012 Education budget proposal -Weighted student formula

This would dissolve categoricals (categories of money attached to a school budget, and remember - Adult Education is a categorical) and give the money to districts based on numbers of K-12 English language learners (ELs) and Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) students they serve.

Why the Brown proposal is bad for Adult Schools:

School districts would no longer receive any money that was derived from Adult Education and so they would no longer have any obligation to deliver classes for adults. Although under flexibility school districts can take the money, many have not. This is partly because they receive money based on the fact they had adult classes in the past and if things go according to current law, flexibility will end after 14/15 and things would return to how they were before.

As you can see, all this is very complicated.

It is easy for everyone to get overwhelmed by the complexity of it and just sort of shut down and let someone else handle the problem.

The problem with that is: this is really OUR problem.

By "our" I mean everyone's - every single person who lives in this state.

Perhaps every single person who lives in the world given the fact that California is generally found to be in the top ten economies in the world.

How we educate our labor force - the current labor force of adults, and the future labor force which is our children, how we educate our citizens and residents, the values and skills we pass on to them - will powerfully affect what happens to this state, and by effect, the world.

It is important that we understand what we are doing. The choices we have made already and the consequences of those choices. The choices we have before us now and possible consequences they will have.

We will all live with the results.

We need to choose wisely.

That's plenty to digest. We'll pick up with more information - about AB 18 and other mattes - in the next post.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How Things Work - Part One

How education is paid for - especially adult education - is complicated and confusing.

It is more confusing because things have changed in recent years.

One thing that hasn't changed:

All adult schools are tied to a district - either a high school district or a community college district.

Hit the "read more" link to learn more.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Purpose of this Blog

The San Mateo Adult School already has several blogs.

We have a blog that is focused on the ESL department - smaceesl.blogspot.com

and a blog that is focused on student success - smacesuccess.blogspot.com.

Those are both good things.

The purpose of this blog is different.

Adult education - all across the state of California - is under a lot of pressure. There have been many cuts and changes and more are possible.

All schools - state preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, adult schools, community colleges, state universities, and the University of California schools - have gone through a lot - many cuts and many changes.

But adult education has been hit the hardest. Every school across the state was cut and in some places, adult schools were completely closed.

The purpose of this blog is to let people what is going on and what they can do to prevent more cuts and to help adult schools rebuild.


Because adult education matters.

We'll tell you why in future posts.

And we ask your help in that, too.

If you have a story, photo, or video that can help people understand why adult education matters, place a comment here so we can share that information and inspiration with others.

And if you a suggestion about what we can do to prevent more cuts and to rebuild from the cuts we've had, let us know that, too.