Sunday, March 10, 2019

Tell the Governor and Your Legislators: California Needs Adequate Funding for Adult Education

It's time.

California is the 4th biggest economy in the world.

And it is 17th most unequal "nation" on earth.

Adult Education has what California needs to serve the people who grind to give it power.

Adult Education holds keys  - civic, social, economic, educational - to address the challenges we face:  climate change, income inequality, social injustice, among others ---  if it is adequately funded.

Tell Governor Newsom and your legislators:  Adult Ed needs adequate funding.

Here's information to help you:

(Note:  If you use a screen reader and need this information in text, please DM via Facebook and I will provide for you.)

From Adult School Teachers United: Open Letter to Governor Newsom re Adult School Funding

Adult School Teachers United represents the teachers of West Contra Costa Adult School.  Here is their letter to Governor Newsom (posted with permission from Kristen Pursley's Save Your Adult School blog):

Open Letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom re Adult School Funding

Adult School Teachers United
P.O. Box 1115
11135 SAN pABLO AVE.
EL CERRITO, CA 94530-9998

Governor Gavin Newsom
C/O State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Newsom:
Adult School Teachers United, representing adult school teachers in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, respectfully urges you to include increased funding for California’s adult schools in the 2019-2020 budget. We applaud the increases in spending on education in the proposed budget, particularly the increase in spending on the youngest children. However, we were very disappointed to see that there was no increase in funding for adult schools, which are severely underfunded and have not received an increase in funding since 2008. California’s adult schools provide basic literacy and low-cost job training for the most vulnerable adults in the state: immigrants who need to learn English, adults who need to earn a high school diploma or the equivalent, and adults with disabilities. Our students are frequently low-income because their lack of basic literacy shuts them out of better paying jobs. Because job prospects for our students improve dramatically as they reach their potential, an adequately funded, thriving adult school system is key to the economic health of the state. Adult schools also provide an important support for children, especially children in low-income families, because as parents become more educated, outcomes for their children improve in a variety of ways.
California has a vast need for adult education that has never been met. According to the last U.S. Census, about 5.3 million adults in California, about one-fifth of the population, are in need of basic literacy services. In the best of times, California’s adult school and community college systems combined have only served about 1.5 million. During the Great Recession, both adult schools and community colleges lost funding, and both systems lost capacity to serve adult students. Adult schools were particularly hard hit; some closed their doors entirely. Since 2013, funding for community colleges has been restored, while funding for adult schools, which were even harder hit by the recession, has remained flat. The failure to increase funding for adult schools has not only prevented them from regaining their former capacity, but also locked in inequities because adult schools in low-income communities were frequently hit harder by cuts than adult schools in more affluent areas. For example, before 2008 Oakland had an adult school system that served 25,000 students. They had several adult school buildings in different parts of the city, enabling them to serve students in the neighborhoods where students lived, worked, or sent their students to school. Oakland currently has 11 classes and shares a building with a high school. They have never been able to restore even a fraction of their capacity.
California needs a robust adult school system. Not every community is close to a community college, but every community has a school district and thus the capacity to have an adult school. California has a large immigrant population that needs to master the English language. Adult schools have been providing English language instruction for immigrants since the 1850s, and still provide more English language instruction than credit and non-credit community colleges combined. Adult school teachers are professionals who must earn a credential in order to teach. We know how to do the job and have been doing it for a long time. We need adequate funding that matches the importance of our contributions.

Since 2013, state funding for adult schools has been distributed to the Adult Education Consortia. A portion of the consortium funding was dedicated to the adult schools in the consortium, based on what adult schools were receiving from their districts in 2013. This is the amount that needs to be increased. Our community college consortium partners have funding independent of the consortium; in fact, the vast majority of their funding is not tied to the consortium. But adult schools are almost entirely dependent on the consortium funding, and their portion never gets an increase. This is an untenable situation, as costs keep going up, and the adult schools continue to lose capacity as they struggle to keep up with rising expenses. In order to be true partners with the community colleges, adult schools need that measure of security and autonomy that comes with adequate and fair funding.
Adult schools could be doing so much more for the state of California with improved funding. A 2011 California Department of Education study found that the return on investment in adult education included not only economic benefits for the state and individuals, but also increased civic engagement including improved voting levels, more immigrants attaining U.S. citizenship, improved individual and family health, reduced recidivism and improvements in children’s education. These are all improvements that will contribute to stronger, more vibrant communities and, in the end, save the state money. Please consider increasing funding for California’s adult schools and unlocking our potential to bring the benefits of adult education to the state.
Adult School Teachers United

Kristen Pursley, President
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond
Senator Nancy Skinner
Assembly Member Buffy Wicks

From Pinole Progressive Alliance and Many Others: Open Letter to Governor Gavin Newsom re: Adult School Older Adult Programs

Posted on the Save Your Adult School blog and sent from the Pinole Progressive Alliance - and many others, including myself (Cynthia Eagleton) and the teachers of CFT Local 4681 (San Mateo Adult School): 

Open Letter to Governor Gavin Newsom re: Adult School Older Adult Programs

March 9, 2019
Pinole Progressive Alliance

Governor Gavin Newsom
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Save Adult School Older Adult Programs
Dear Governor Newsom:
We are writing to request that the State of California find a way to fund adult school Older Adult programs. The cities of Richmond and El Cerrito are in danger of losing, as early as June, an adult school program that serves hundreds of older adults. Other cities may lose similar programs in the near future if something is not done soon. These highly effective and inexpensive programs are at risk because of a decision the California State Legislature made in 2013 to withdraw state funding for adult school Older Adult programs. Acting dishonestly and in bad faith, legislators promised to find other funding for these programs, but never did, leaving the programs in limbo. This is an injustice we hope your new administration will correct.
The programs at risk in Richmond and El Cerrito are the Christ Lutheran Senior Center, St. John’s Senior Center, and the Sakura Kai program for Japanese-speaking seniors. If these programs have to close down, it will be a loss to the community as well as to the students. Assumptions about aging often blind us to the contributions seniors can make with the proper support. Many of the students at Christ Lutheran Senior Center volunteer in the schools with programs like the Read Aloud and Writer Coach Connection. Through the Center, seniors find volunteer opportunities and access the support that helps them keep volunteering. Sakura Kai provides docents for museum exhibits on Japanese-American history in the Bay Area, and has several performance groups, including a Taiko drumming group, that perform at local schools and at community events.  If these programs close, their cultural resources will be lost to the community, while cities are left to deal with a more isolated senior population, and families will have to cope with the loss of a service that was helping their older relative stay healthy and independent.
Adult school programs for Older Adults are a good investment for the state. They combat isolation, which is one of the most serious challenges facing older Americans, and provide opportunities for socialization and mental stimulation that contribute to healthy aging. Studies have repeatedly shown that programs   where older adults learn new things, socialize, and stay active in civic life through volunteering and other opportunities actually save the state money by helping seniors stay healthy and active longer. Healthy, active seniors need fewer government services, and they also make significant contributions to their communities in the form of volunteer labor.

When the state eliminated funding for adult school Older Adult programs, many adult schools were forced to close those programs. But others, feeling an obligation to students they had served for years, found ways to keep their Older Adult programs open with whatever other funding they could find. This often required them to start charging at least some money for classes that had once been free, which put these much-needed services out of reach for low-income seniors. But the schools did their best to subsidize the programs as much as possible and make them accessible to as many elders as they could. Now some of these programs that were struggling are beginning to falter, and they, too, may be lost if the state does not remedy the situation.
Whatever the reason the state had for pulling the funding for adult school programs for seniors, it wasn’t really economic. Under state law, community colleges can still run similar programs with state funds, and these programs are more expensive than adult school programs because community college teachers make more money. Many community colleges do not have Older Adult programs, as they are primarily institutions of higher learning concerned with offering college level courses for credit. When an adult school has to close its Older Adult program for lack of funding, there is no guarantee that a nearby community college has a similar program, or is willing to start one. Even if a community college is willing to pick up an adult school Older Adult program, it is more expensive to break down an existing program and start a new one than to keep an existing program going.
Adult school advocates were told, at the time the state pulled funding for Older Adult programs, that the legislature did not think programs for Older Adults belonged in the education budget. Perhaps money would be found in the health budget. This seems to have been a dodge, since they never did anything, but simply left these programs to close or languish. Yet they left funding for Older Adults in the community college budget, which is part of the education budget. Californians deserve an education policy that is consistent and fair. We ask that funding be found for adult school Older Adult programs, and we feel that they should be part of the education budget, as they are for the community colleges. It is an insult to older Californians to suggest that they don’t deserve education, and that everything for seniors belongs in the health budget; to be old is not necessarily to be sick. Older people continue to learn, grow and contribute. California needs to invest in them and treat them like the assets they are.

Pinole Progressive Alliance
Consuelo Lara, Concilio Latino
Jessica Peregrina, Concilio Latino
Adult School Teachers United
Richmond Progressive Alliance School Action Team
Cynthia Eagleton, Adult School Teacher, San Mateo Adult School, Adult Education Matters Blogger
California Federation of Teachers CFT Local 4681, representing San Mateo Adult School teachers