Saturday, June 28, 2014

Anthony Cody Educating the Gates Foundation

What do Anthony Cody and the Gates Foundation have to do with Adult Education?

Well, Anthony Cody is a former middle school science teacher in Oakland who has gone on to start the Network for Public Education with Diane Ravitch.  

He and Diane, along with many, many others, are working to save and strengthen public education.

They are revealing how privatization and philanthropy are not good for the public.

Hit the "read more" to learn more.

How Do You Win In California? Lose Big First

There was an interesting piece in the San Francisco Chronicle,

"It Took a Big Loss to Make Marriage Equality A Winner" by Joe Mathews.

Here is the article in full.  I don't think I need to tell you why this pertains to Adult Education.

Hit the "read more" to keep going.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A History of Adult Education in California: We've Been Here Before

At the Grassroots Meeting on Adult Education held in Berkeley on Saturday, June 21, 2014, Kristen Pursley presented a dynamite powerpoint on the history of Adult Ed in California.

Kristen Pursley works at West Contra Costa Adult School, is a longtime member of COSAS (Communities Organized in Support of Adult Schools), and authors the Save Your Adult School blog. 

The title of the powerpoint was "A History of Adult Education in California:  We've Been Here Before."   And wow.  She's right.  Looking over the facts here, it's clear.  We sure have.

We all learned a lot from her presentation and I think you will, too.

That's why, with her permission, I'm presenting it here.

Note, I did this kind of a crazy way.  My idea was: you can click on each "slide" to see it, save it, share it, etc.  Just be sure to give Kristen Pursley credit for it.  

Hit the "read more" to learn more.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Students Must Be Included

ESL Student Council President Marco on the left
Moni, Melika, Vice President Maricruz, Teacher Lisa,
Advocate Marina, Yulia, Jess, Daniel, James
On Saturday, June 21, students, teachers, community members, political aides, and the press gathered for a Grassroots Meeting about Adult Education in Berkeley, California.

A group of San Mateo Adult Students presented a panel discussion about student participation, advocacy, community, and voice.  It was a powerful and inspiring presentation.

The group included ESL Morning Student Council President Marco Estrella. 

About why he got involved in advocacy for Adult Education, Marco said,

I wanted to inspire my kids. Now that I have time, I enrolled in San Mateo Adult School.  I am doing the best I can to promote adult education because everyone should have a second try.    Creating alliances with other schools and connecting with the media would help us. Every time we have an event we invite the media.  Sometimes they come.  Sometimes they don't - but we keep insisting.  I have seen in places where Adult Education has been cut that people get in trouble.  Adult Education not only helps us... it helps the whole community.  It helps business because then the community is a secure place for them. 

At the conclusion of the panel discussion, Marco said,

When our education was threatened by closures and cuts, being organized, being informed, being able to cooperate with others is what made the difference to saving our school.  We have written letters and emailed lawmakers.  We have been in Sacramento talking to legislators telling them our stories. 

All this has been a team effort.  Teachers, office staff, and students all working together to raise awareness about the importance of  Adult Education. 

Our Student Council has been the VOICE of the students.  Wherever we have gone, we have insisted that student's input be considered when planning or deciding about our education that would affect our future.  For instance, when planning for the new Regional Consortia.

SMAS Student Council believes that learners of all ages have THE RIGHT to  a fair  education  and opportunities for all. In an environment where everyone can feel safe and proud to be in..............And this right should not expire due to age!

SMAS Student Council President
Marco  Estrella

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Parent Ed & Older Adults: What's An Adult School To Do?

Because AB86 includes just these 5 programs, it is complicated for folks on the ground, especially the folks in K12 Adult Schools, to know how or if to include Parent Education and Older Adults classes. 

Parent Education and Older Adults have long been part of Adult Education - and they still are on the CDE (California Department of Education) Adult Education Program Overview page.  But when we shift into the new Regional Consortia system in 2015, they won't be funded by the state anymore. 

At the same time, more and more research shows the value of both programs and the savings they provide to the state.

Hit the "read more" to learn more.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

LA Family Literacy Program Saved!

August 2014 update... LA Fam is still struggling to survive... getting the latest here.

Awesome news!

       Grassroots matters!

A mighty combo platter of Student, Family, and Community voice, along with a great website, twitter feed, press in both English and Spanish, blog coverage, emails, phone calls, coordinated action at rallies and School Board meetings, elected official support (thank you Council Members  Zimmer and Kayser!), connecting the dots (A4CAS making the connection the Edsource article about districts having some leeway with funds and LAUSD claiming they don't have the money), and RED for ADULT ED action brought us the good news that Los Angeles Unified School Districts Family Literacy Program - an Adult Education program - will reopen in August.


Like La Escuelita in Oakland, the LA Family Literacy Program
is another little engine that could.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Yes, we can!

We in Adult Education are growing in grassroots skills.
Many things were done right with this campaign. 
We can learn from how this campaign succeeded.
We can apply what we've learned to save other programs and rebuild Adult Ed across the state.
Our tool kit is growing.
Are there challenges yet to meet?

But it seems we are up to meeting them!

Check out this video of testimony at the board meeting where the program was saved.

Many good points shared!


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Adult Education Activity on Social Media

to be held Saturday, June 21 at Berkeley Adult School, I made a list of Adult Schools and Adult Education Organizations active on Social Media - Facebook, blogs, Twitter, etc.

Social Media has become an important tool  for Adult Education for many reasons:

* Keeping communities and students informed of what's going on academically, socially, politically
* Introducing schools, communities, organizations, and grassroots groups & advocates to each other
* Sharing inspiration, information, petitions, ideas, news, facts, connections, images, inforraphics
* Mobilizing on causes - saving Family Literacy in Oakland and Los Angeles, rallying for Riverside
* Connecting the dots and seeing the larger picture by looking at shifts and context across the state
If you know of more schools or groups to add to this list, please leave a comment so I can add them.
 Hit the "read more" link to see the list.

Grassroots Adult Education Meeting: Sat, June 21

Grassroots Adult Education Meeting:
Telling Our Stories, Planning for the Future

Grassroots advocates for California's adult schools from all over the state will meet to discuss how to save adult education, which is now severely at risk.
We are a network of California adult school students and teachers together with community advocates who have been working to save the state's adult schools since 2008, when adult schools began to close due to severe budget cuts.We give many hours of our own time every week because adult schools are a vital resource for California communities, particularly low income communities.  Adult schools offer a second chance at a high school diploma, preparation for high school completion tests like the GED, the equivalent of an elementary school education for adults who never had the chance to get one, English classes for California’s large immigrant population, classes that help adults with disabilities live independently, Parent Education classes that strengthen families and support children, and programs that keep seniors active, healthy and giving back to their communities.  Through rallies, letter writing, phone, and social media campaigns, and meetings with elected officials, we have contributed to successful campaigns to keep adult schools open in California. While California’s system of adult schools is battered, it is still standing; there is a foundation left to build upon.  We are proud to know that we helped preserve this irreplaceable educational system for all Californians.

Hit the "read more" link to learn more.

Friday, June 13, 2014

What Brown Wants

When you want something from someone... it is important to understand what they want.

That is how negotiation works.

 You know what they want and they know what you want and you work, cooperatively or coercively, to make a deal you both agree on.

This - the bullet train - is what Brown wants.

For education, he wanted us to acknowledge that it's important and vote to pay for it, ourselves - and we did when we voted yes on Prop 30.

Hit the "read more" link to learn more.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Immigrant Parents Need More Support

I and others have written numerous times about the need to keep the Adult Education mission broad - to continue to fund Parent Education and Older Adults, as well as Financial Literacy and Home Economics - all traditional members of the Adult Ed family.  The following article from Inter Press Service News Agency is a good demonstration of why.  (The article is in full below my comments.)
It is frustrating to know that the Los Angeles Family Literacy Program does exactly what this article says is needed - but is slated to be cut.  
Soft money is not the answer for the LA Family Literacy Program and it's not the answer for saving other programs put in jeopardy by the narrowing of the Adult Education mission.
Soft money, in fact, is not needed.  We have more than enough money to pay for these programs.  The public wants public education and the public wants to fund it. That is why we voted for Prop 30.

It is now the work of our political representative to understand the intention behind that vote and create the legislation needed to make it happen.
I suspect the public would also vote for an oil extraction tax with the money going to fund education and other public services.  We are the only state in the Union which does not do this.  Texas and Alaska make big money by taxing the extraction of oil, gas and other natural resources from their soil.  We choose not to.  Why?  Who is that benefiting?  Certainly, not the people of California.
Charging fees for these programs is not the answer, either.  That might work in wealthy communities but wealthy communities are the not the communities most in need and they are not the communities on which the health and prosperity of our people depend.
We need these programs.  We want these programs.  We have the money to pay for these programs.  And we have voted to tax ourselves in order to pay for them.  Now let our representatives "read our lips and ballot boxes" and do the work we put them into office to do.
Is that work hard?  Sure.  But is it as hard as the lives of the folks in this article?  No.  No, it is not.
           Sunday, 08 June 2014
Washington - Immigrant parents in the United States face serious challenges accessing early elementary programmes for their children, advocates here are warning.

The centrality of parents in early childhood education is undisputed, yet a new report from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a Washington-based think tank, highlights a broad lack of programming for immigrant parents. The report lists gaps in translation services as well as cultural and systems knowledge for parents as primary obstacles, and notes significant potential impacts on children’s education.

“With one in four young children in the United States living in an immigrant family, efforts to build trust and establish meaningful two-way communication with these families is an urgent priority,” states the report, released this week.

In recent years, U.S. policymakers have increased efforts to improve early childhood education. In January 2013, for instance, President Barack Obama introduced his Plan for Early Education for all Americans, which focuses on children to age five and includes funding high-quality preschool for all low- and moderate-income children.

Yet plans like this and others often overlook the importance of supporting immigrant parents, especially those with limited English-language proficiency. MPI’s researchers warn that fast-changing demographics in the United States are making this oversight increasingly problematic.
“Immigration for the longest time had been a five-state issue, but now it’s a 40-state issue,” Margie McHugh, one of the report’s authors, said at a briefing Monday.

Of the one in four young children in the U.S. with immigrant parents, 45 percent are low-income, and their parents are twice as likely as native-born parents to have less than a high school diploma.

“This represents a significant risk factor for many young children of immigrants,” the report states, “given that maternal educational attainment is closely linked with education outcomes for children, and parental education is closely linked with family earnings and economic well-being.”

Budget victims

Currently, no federal programme exists to explicitly support and engage immigrant parents in the United States, while ongoing budget battles in Washington are impacting on initiatives that have partially filled this gap.

The government has cut funds for Head Start, a federal programme that provides public preschool and health services to low-income children. And Even Start, a federal family literacy programme that integrated adult literacy with parenting education, was defunded in 2010.

These cuts disproportionately affect immigrant families.

Some programmes do exist, either through private or piecemeal funding, but these advocates say these typically lack accountability standards and continuity, since funding is so fickle. Such initiatives also tend not to communicate or coordinate with one another, meaning, for instance, that programmes aimed at secondary education do not build on those for primary schooling.

Focus group participants from MPI’s study said that programmes offered very limited translation and interpretation services, and generally ignored languages other than Spanish. Some projects did offer classes to parents, but long waiting lists, inconvenient hours or lack of child care reportedly deterred parents – despite a strong desire to participate.

“I don’t go to [parent engagement] programmes like this because one time I went, and the school had me waiting for an hour, standing around and waiting for an interpreter,” one parent told MPI researchers. “I was so tired of waiting – I have no idea what they told me in the end and they didn’t help me at all.”

Even when translation services are provided or parents speak English, understanding teachers or school materials requires a substantial understanding of the U.S. education lexicon and culture.
One federal project, Promise Neighborhoods, is funding a pilot programme specifically geared towards immigrant parents in a neighbourhood near Washington.

“In the majority of the families we work with, the parents are trying to be deeply engaged in their children’s lives,” Eliza Leighton, the programme’s director, told IPS.

“Many parents came to this country to make sure their kids have access to quality education, yet when they arrive they find there’s very limited information available for them.”

The lack of information leaves parents unaware of available resources and also leaves them in the dark about early childhood development.

“For example, many parents work under the misconception that they should only read to their child in English – and if it’s not in English, then they shouldn’t read at all,” Leighton says. “That’s not true. It’s wonderful to read to your child, even if it’s not in English.”

The pilot project has four main components.

First are “parent promoters”, each of whom has about 50 families to connect to the community.

Second is a 13-week parent and teacher class, conducted mostly in Spanish, to teach parents how to support their child’s development.

The third component is a series of community events to build a support community for immigrant parents.

Finally, the last part is a class to educate teachers on the linguistic and cultural needs of their students and families.

If the programme is successful, supporters say it could be expanded throughout the country.

Data needed

MPI notes that increasing the collection of pertinent data would increase the visibility of immigrant parents for school administrators, especially parents who speak a language other than Spanish.

Currently, from the school to federal level, data collection begins in kindergarten. But more information could help teachers better understand the needs of their students and help policymakers hear demands for programming catered to immigrant parents.

Of course, programmes to educate immigrant parents overlap with the field of adult education, like adult literacy classes. However, few federal adult-education programmes meet the needs of parents that lack English-language proficiency.

“Right now, adult education programmes are only meeting about four percent of needs,” McHugh said.

“The other dynamic … is that a lot of existing capacity is dedicated to people trying to get their [high school degrees] and post-secondary degrees. And that is a desired outcome, but that type of programme does not meet the needs of immigrant parents.”

The report also stresses the need for non-traditional family literacy programmes or adult education programmes, but structured in such a way that they can wrap together cultural knowledge, language and literacy, and systems knowledge.

“Partnerships with families are a bedrock for strong early childhood development,” said Miriam Calderon, a former senior policy analyst for early learning at the White House.

Calderon highlighted the report’s recommendation to institute a federal pilot programme that can draw from the lessons of Even Start, both from what worked on the ground and also why support for the programme ultimately declined.

“Policies regarding family engagement … lack teeth and are largely misused,” said Calderon.
Visit IPS news for fresh perspectives on development and globalization. 
Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 10th, SB 173 which does not yet fully embrace and support state-funded Adult Education for Parent Education and Older Adults, will go before the Assembly Higher Education Committee.   
If you wish to contact the Higher Education Committee to express your support for a full and fully funded mission for Adult Education, you can find contact information here.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

173: Finding the Spring

SB 173 goes before the Assembly Higher Ed Committee on Tuesday, June 10th at 1:30 pm.

SB 173 has gone through a number of changes since it last appeared before this same committee back in August of 2013.

At that time, SB 173 excluded Parent Education and Older Adults Adult Education courses from funding by the state.

I and others attended that hearing to ask that SB 173 be amended so that those programs were not excluded. 

At that time, CCAE - the California Council of Adult Education - spoke for SB 173 and CFT - the California Federation of Teachers - spoke against it. 

Various community members and organizations also spoke both for and against it. 

This issue of narrowing the mission of Adult Ed is not the only part of the bill that has incited controversy and argument but I would say it is the issue that has caused the most heat and the most division in the Adult Ed community.   I wrote about that division here.

I am a member of both CCAE and CFT.  I agree with both organizations on some points and disagree with them on others.  I am grateful that both organizations exist and I "put my money where my mouth is" through my membership, dues, and participation in both organizations.

At the hearing in August of 2013, I said that I thought SB 173 should be amended to include Parent Education and Older Adults, as well as Financial Literacy and Home Economics, the other two programs slated to be excluded.  Recently, I think more and more about Financial Literacy and Home Economics.  Imagine if Californians better understood financial matters?  And running their home in an economically wise way?  Imagine.  Yes now.  For just this moment.  Imagine.  Yes.  Wow.  It's that important.

I still think SB 173 should be amended.  You can read why here

You can also read this Save Your Adult School post which very factually and eloquently combs through both the benefits and shortcomings of SB 173.

The view that SB 173 needs further amending is not a popular view and in the eyes of many, it is not a practical view. 

But having just come from a week on the Mountain during which I had time to swim and sit and hike and think...  to visit with my daughter and a friend...  to think about my family... which consists of many folks connected to me by blood, law, love, and water...  to read Mercedes Schneider's amazing book, "A Chronicle of Echoes:  Who's Who in the Implosion of the American Public Education" and think about what's really at the root of the arguments around SB 173 and Designated Funding for K12 Adult Schools and how to include teacher, student and community voice in the formation of the Regional Consortia and all the other things we in the field of Adult Education talk and argue about...

hit the "read more" link to find out what I figured out

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Drinking From the Well

We've come a long way in our effort to save Adult Education in California, in particular K12 Adult Schools.

And as often happens, as quickly as we accomplish something, we see there is more to do.

The work now:

* ensuring that K12 Adult Schools have the funding they need to move forward

* coming to resolution about the mission of Adult Education - narrow or full

* including students, teachers, and communities in the Regional Consortia planning process

* understanding the bigger picture of Public Education - where we fit in it, the shifts happening on local, state, national and global levels, the push to privatization, the emphasis on College & Career Readiness, the changes wrought by tech in terms of both how we deliver and receive information and the influence of tech money on what information is shared.

* understanding the bigger picture of Democracy - how we decide what we want, as a people, how to create it, how to pay for it, how to assess it, and how to change things when we determine the next steps to best move ourselves forward.

* understanding education as a way to care for ourselves as a people, a way to pass on values and skills, which necessarily means that it will be a delicate and sometimes divisive issue for whosoever is driving education is, in essence, driving the bus we all ride to our future.

Indeed, a lot of work, eh?

That's why rest and re-creation, to my mind and heart, are as important as career and college readiness.  Without joy in our heart, without a sense of connection to friends, families, communities, without the spaciousness of mind which, while it creates form, is born of formlessness, we lose our way. 

We easily become angry, bitter, and divisive, sad, discouraged, and despairing, worn-out, sick, or gravely ill.

Those of us who dig the well must have the wisdom to drink from it.

And drinking from it, we must have the wisdom to remember that while we may have dug the well, we did not make the water.  Nor were we the first to dig it.  Nor will we be the last.

To that end, I am going to make my annual trek to the Mountain to replenish myself and family.

I am happy to see that there is more recognition of the value of family and community in the latest changes to SB 173.  You can read about those changes here.

And you can find out the latest in the world of Adult Education at Save Your Adult School and Alliance for California Adult Schools.

As always, I wish you well.


At the headwaters