Sunday, May 5, 2013

Weekly Update 5/5/13

This week, newspaper headlines promoted the idea of Governor Brown as Robin Hood and it became the hook to engage readers in the ongoing education reform debate.  We are caught in the middle of it.  Senator Carol Liu’s (D-La Canada Flintridge) bill, SB 69, would provide us with the protection we need -- designated funding (by taking AE out of the LCFF pool of money).  It also contains changes to LCFF, which creates more difficulty in passage of the bill, given Governor Brown’s crusade to fight for his plan as a “civil rights issue”.  The irony of his comment, given the current adult education crisis, is highlighted in Cynthia Eagleton’s “Open Letter to Governor Brown”.  The political rhetoric will undoubtedly give way to the give and take of the necessary negotiations.

Please keep promoting the petition online, as well as printing it out to give to students so they can participate and obtain signatures.  Contact your legislator and speak up for adult education. It is a critical time to raise our collective voice to Governor Brown as he works on the May revise.

The report that is cited as the basis for Governor Brown's budget proposal is:

Alan Bersin, Michael W. Kirst, and Goodwin Liu

On February 15th, the day I started the Alliance for California Adult Schools’ Facebook page, I wrote an email to Michael Kirst.  I wrote that, while researching the origin of Governor Brown's current education proposal, I came across a Sacramento Bee article (12/26/12), "Jerry Brown pushes new funding system for California schools"  that stated he “co-wrote a 2008 paper that became the model for Brown's proposal.”  I have since seen the reference many times.

I told him that I find it hard to believe that, given his views about equal access to education, he supports the budget proposal.  What about adult education?  I wrote:

Speaking English at home will improve a child’s vocabulary at a young age, setting the stage for success in the public school system and beyond.  

His response was:
Thank you for your letter. Brown proposes having community colleges more involved in the adult ed programs you mention.

In the report:
“California’s current budget woes do not preclude implementation of our proposal. To the contrary, now is an especially good time to pursue a fundamental overhaul of the present system."

This is part of what is stirring the controversy regarding Brown’s budget proposal.  People are upset that Brown wasn’t honest with the public when he campaigned for the passage of Proposition 30.  He knew what he wanted to do.  He also knew that Proposition 30 wouldn’t pass if he were honest about what he planned to do with the funds derived from it.

Another part of the report that warrants a look:

"We have not examined what mix of incentives, supports, and accountability mechanisms will ensure that dollars allocated equitably from the state to local districts are in turn spent wisely by local districts to boost performance especially among the neediest students and schools."

One aspect of LCFF that has people worried is whether the extra money given to districts with larger populations of low-income students, foster youth, and English learners will actually reach the students in a meaningful way.

It’s important that we understand how we fit into the larger picture of public education in California.  In the past few months, I’ve contacted many people who endorsed the proposal in major newspapers and completely overlooked the adult education portion of it.  Sometimes they are apologetic, indicating that it was merely an oversight on their part.  We need to assert ourselves.  We have been doing a great job, but we need to push harder this week.

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