Saturday, August 30, 2014

Re-Shaping Public Education: The I's that See the We

Clearly, this is a perspective piece.

Thank you to Alliance for California Adult Schools for finding the document it's based on and sharing it on the A4CAS Facebook page.

I am sharing and analyzing the following 2011 Community College Academic Senate Resolution because I think it reveals a lot about how we've gotten to where we are now...

Hit the "read more" link to see and understand more...

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Truth Is K12 Adult Schools Need Dedicated Funding

The December 2012 LAO - Legislative Analyst Office - Report on Adult Education has served in many ways as a template for reform in Adult Education.

(Click here to read the report:  Restructuring California's Adult Education System.)

But one important recommendation - to reinstate Adult Education as a categorical when flexibility ends in June of 2015 - has been ignored.

Reinstating Adult Ed as a categorical may or may not be a viable option.  Many think it's not politically possible. 

But the ever-increasing number of signatures on the Restore Protected Funding for K-12 Adult Education Petition, CCAE's Legislative Update and Call to Action Webinar, and grassroots action around the state all make one thing clear:

K12 Adult Education needs a stable source of funding separate from the community college system.

Within the Regional Consortia system, both Community Colleges and K12 Adult Schools are mandated to provide Adult Education, but only Community Colleges have secure funding. And they will continue to have secure funding because their funding exists independent of the Regional Consortia system.  They have apportionment (this is what their funding is called).  They are secure.  On top of their apportionment money, they may get extra money for Adult Education - which may come in through the Community College Chancellor's Office.

K12 Adult Schools are not secure.  K12 Adult Schools are not safe.  K12 Adult Schools have been mandated to do a job but haven't been given the means to do the job and can't properly prepare to do it, given the fact they don't know what the future holds.

This is the plain truth.
It is a also a truth some folks have danced around when asked to explain how K12 Adult Schools can survive this challenge.  And it is a truth that has sometimes created division amongst Adult Ed advocates in their desperation to figure out a way to save K12 Adult Schools.

It is not, however, a truth which K12 Adult Schools or their advocates created.

It is just a truth they must face...  that K12 Adult Schools, themselves, need stabilizing if they are to continue on as the stabilizing fourth leg of California's Public Education system.

In what form that stability will come - a return to categorical status, some new form of dedicated funding specific to K12 Adult Schools, or some other way - we don't know. 

We just know if it doesn't happen, more K12 Adult Schools will collapse, which will destabilize our public education system, economy, and social stability.

This December 2012 Edsource article provides helpful information.   I've highlighted the section with quotes from Paul Steenhausen, who wrote the LAO Report.

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 reentering 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 report addresses this issue. 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.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

K12 Adult Schools: Blueprints for Civic Action

This week the Final Report of the K-12 Task Force on California Civic Learning was released.

The purpose of the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning, co-chaired by Justice Judith McConnell and Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David Gordon, was to ensure that Californians have the skills to participate in work, community, and civic life in the 21st century.

I was struck by the title: "Revitalizing K-12 Civic Learning in California:  A Blueprint for Action."
In so many ways, K-12 Adult Schools, in both form and function, are just such a blueprint.

Hit the "read more" link to learn why.

Include Teachers in the RC Planning Process

Here is a letter to CDE (California Department of Education) Superintendent from the presidents of the two largest teachers unions, CFT (California Federation of Teachers) and CTA (California Teachers Association) urging him to include teachers in the planning process for the new Regional Consortia system.
The letter is from April of 2014 - so it is not new - but I had not included it on this blog before and one purpose of the blog is to be a library of information which others can use in our work to save and rebuild Adult Education, especially K12 Adult Schools. 


Adult Education, like every branch of public education but even more so, is being re-formed.  It is being pruned and trimmed so that it grows in new directions.
Because public education is for the public and paid for by the public, we all need to be in on what is happening.   Including teachers is one way to make sure that happens.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Data and Decisions: 2011 Little Hoover Report

The following testimony was given in 2011.  I am posting it here because I think it contains important data and important conclusions.  You can agree or argue with the conclusions.  You can use the data to better understand where we've come from and decide where we should best go next.

California Department of Education,
Adult Education Testimony Little Hoover Commission 
Respectfully submitted by Dr. Patrick Ainsworth,
Director of Secondary, Career, and Adult Learning Division
and Ms. Debra Jones, Administrator, Adult Education Office June 23, 2011 

Thank you for the opportunity to address the Little Hoover Commission and to share the vital issues surrounding adult education and the impacts of the current budget reductions. Adult Education has a long history in California serving adults since 1856. The first classes were taught in the basement of Old St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco to Chinese immigrants. Since that time, the program has grown, and in 2008 adult education served 1.2 million adults. 

The current fiscal crisis has impacted hundreds of thousands of adults in California. Flexibility has redirected the Adult Education budget of 634 million dollars to the kindergarten through grade twelve (K–12) system to be used for any educational purpose. School districts and school boards have had to make difficult decisions in this time of limited resources. It is estimated that half of the 2011 adult education budget was spent on adult education.  

Hit the "read more" link to get the full scoop.

CCAE Call to Action Webinar

CCAE - California Council of Adult Education - held a Legislative Update and Call to Action Webinar on July 31.

You can listen to the Webinar in full by going to the Legislative page of the CCAE website and clicking on the blue box that says, "Legislative Update and Call to Action Webinar."

Follow the instructions - you will need to download a few things - and in a few minutes you will be able to see and hear CCAE Legislative Analyst Dawn Koepke walk you through the CCAE strategy.

It's an excellent webinar and Ms. Koepke explains things very clearly.

The CCAE Legislative page also includes

2015–16 Budget Timeline
2015–16 Budget Myth vs. Fact
2015–16 Budget Sample NASCAR Letter
2015–16 Budget Talking Points
CCAE Section Legislator Responsibilities

all of which you can click on and download from this page or the CCAE website.

I highly recommend that you watch the webinar and download the CCAE documents.

Already on the AEM blog:

CCAE Legislative Talking Points

CCAE Myths & Facts

Getting to the Finish - includes the CCAE Budget Timeline

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Getting to the Finish

This is it, folks.  The last leg of our marathon.

The money for K12 Adult Schools runs out in June of 2015.

We have until January - really, it needs to happen before then - to convince Governor Brown, the Department of Finance and the Legislature that K12 Adult Schools need their own secure funding source.  Yes, we have a new Regional Consortia system.  But without secure funding, the future is mightily uncertain for K12 Adult Schools.

Everyone who cares about Adult Ed and K12 Adult Schools - grassroots groups, CCAE, CFT, CTA, UTLA, etc. - is going to be doing all they can - calling, visiting, and emailing the Gov, DOF, and Legislators, pulling together NASCAR letters, connecting with community and communicating in creative ways the message:

Adult Education matters!

K12 Adult Schools need their own secure funding!

And for many of us:  Keep the mission of Adult Ed broad! 

Strategies may differ slightly but the end goal is the same: 

A good future for our people
         through good public Adult Education.

Here's a budget timeline kindly provided by CCAE:

Fiscal Year 15-16 Budget Timeline

July 1, 2014 Fiscal Year 14-15 Budget Takes Effect

July – December 2014 Development of the Governor’s FY 15-16 Budget Proposal

State & Local-Based Adult Education Advocacy

Public Relations Campaign

October 1, 2014 Deadline for Local Meetings & Nascar Letters to be Submitted

November 4, 2014 General Election

December 1, 2014 Beginning of 2015-16 Legislative Session

January 5, 2015 Legislature Reconvenes for 2015-16 Legislative Session

January 10, 2015 Release of the Governor’s FY 15-16 Budget Plan

(within a couple days or so)

January – May 2015 Budget Subcommittee Hearings & Decision-Making

March 15, 2015 School District Lay Off Notice Deadline

March 24, 2015 CCAE & CAEAA Leg Day at the Capitol

**Budget Advocacy & Focus – Be There, Strength in Numbers!

June 15, 2015 Constitutional Legislative Budget Deadline

July 1, 2015 FY 15-16 Budget Takes Effect

Here are some of the strategies for getting us to our goal:

*  A4CAS's - Alliance for California Adult School's - strategy

CCAE's  (California Council of Adult Education) - strategy

CFT's (California Federation of Teachers Union) strategy

CTA's (California Teacher Association) strategy

NLLB's (No Lawmaker Left Behind) strategy (part of A4CAS)

UTLA's (United Teachers of Los Angeles) strategy

Full disclosure:   I work with A4CAS (Alliance for California Adult School).  I am on the steering committee for NLLB (No Lawmaker Left Behind).    I am a member of CFT (California Federation of Teachers union) and CCAE (California Council of Adult Education).   And I work at San Mateo Adult School.

If you look closely you will see while the approaches may differ in style and scope they all have the following things in common:

* Connect with the Governor and Legislature
* Get the message out that Adult Education matters
* Stories and data - heart and mind - both are important
* K12 Adult Schools need their own wallet

SMAS Student Leader Hitomi getting the message out:
K12 Adult Schools need secure funding!

My personal thoughts and observations:

* Wearing Red for Adult Ed on Tuesdays - unifies & amplifies
* Being organized in multiple ways - hard but helpful
* Sharing data so that all can access and use for good - multiplies the good
* Connecting with community, press, legislature - turns the tide
* Respecting different approaches - sustains
* Staying out of blame and accusation - rejuvenates
* Staying in support and respect - strengthens
* Understanding we share the goal of saving and strengthening public Adult Education because we share the larger goal of wanting a good future for our people - empowers

* And when you're tired and worn out, consider these guys:

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Jeff Glasbrenner, Andre Slay and Chris Madison cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon 2014.
Glasbrenner ran Boston in 2013 but didn't get to finish because of the bombings.

We can do this. 
Yes, together, we most definitely can.