Sunday, June 9, 2013

Rebuild Adult Ed: K-12 & Designated Funding Stream - Petition Update

3/31/13 email from Cynthia Eagleton to signers of the petition

Good continues.
Last week, for the first time ever, the Oakland School Board unanimously voted to fund what’s left of the once mighty Oakland Adult School, the little acorn that could, if Designated Funding comes soon, grow into a school that can once again serve the people of Oakland.
Significantly, the activism that led to this victory came in great part from the Family Literacy programs.
Families get it:  kids need parents who can speak English, navigate civic life, work, and be there for them, emotionally and physically.
It’s not a matter of kids versus adults.  It’s a matter of supporting adults so they can support the kids they know and love as only a family can.
Vulnerable programs like Oakland’s need Designated Funding NOW – not later.
The Assembly gets that and has come up with an excellent budget that would provide that.
This week, Adult School communities around the state are contacting the Governor and the Legislature to ask for Designated Funding NOW.
They are asking, too, that the CDE (California Department of Education) be “the banker” for that funding – not the CDE in combination with Community Colleges.  When two programs get money – in this case, K12 Schools and CC Non-Credit, it is not a good idea to make one of them “the banker.”  That’s just a basic we all know from family Monopoly games.  Make CDE the banker.  Create the sort of fair funding structure that leads to the trust that leads to real cooperation and success.  
Much good is happening and much momentum has developed for more good.
We need Designated Funding and we need it NOW and we need CDE to be in charge of it.
There is only one piece left in the work to renew and rebuild Adult Education.
And I told myself I would not pick it up.
I’ve already put in so many hours of activism and I know that these hours have not been spent with my child and my parents and I was reluctant to take on anything else that would take time away from my family.
But it is because I am an active parent and an involved adult child of senior parents that I am writing to tell you:

In the rush to get through that budget door before it closes, we've left some of us behind.

Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandad, Abuela y Abuelo, Mamaw and Pop Pop - they might not get through that door.
Because Gov. Brown specifically excluded Parent Education and Older Adults classes from his new plan for Adult Education.
So does Senate Bill 173.
(The Senate Budget plan does not specifically exclude Parent Ed and Older Adults  - but Senate Bill 173 does.
Perhaps 173 can be amended to include Older Adults, Parent Ed, and Adults with Disabilities. 
The fate of Adults with Disabilities is unclear to me, by the way.  And not because it doesn’t matter.)
The Assembly Budget plan is a very, very good one and doesn’t exclude anything. 

With the Assembly plan, 
Adult Schools would be able, it seems to me, to provide the same Adult Ed programs they did before, expanding, renewing, and rebuilding as they see best for their community.
The Assembly plan is a great plan.  It’s got it all:  money, no exclusions, and money now. 
But we need the Senate to agree to this same or similar plan, and the Governor, too.
Reminder:  Both houses of the legislature have to ponder all this, make their tweaks, and come to final vote by June 15.  Then it goes to the Governor who can make line item vetoes.  Which the Legislature could override.
Do you have a headache yet?  I know.  Me, too. 
Back to parents and older adults, here’s the thing:
Gov. Brown’s May Revise plan and Senate Bill 173 don’t get rid of seniors and parents.
Just the money for classes for them.
Seniors and parents would still be around after funds for their programs were cut.
And they would still have fair and honest needs for support.
So where do Brown and the Senate propose they get their needs met?
If you are going to take something away from someone, it is only fair that you do one of the following:
1.       Explain it was not needed
2.      Be honest that it was needed but you don’t value them and you’re taking it away because they and their needs are not important to you and you can do this so you’re doing it.  (I think that’s called bullying, being mean, unfair, and a lot of other things we pretty much don’t like.)
3.      Acknowledge they and their needs have value but you can’t afford to meet them right now so you’re taking them away for the moment (this is what happened to all Adult Ed with Flexibility)
4.      Acknowledge they and their needs have value but you need switch up how you meet and pay for them.  So you plan to meet them right now in some other way from a different source.
5.      Acknowledge they and their needs have value but you can’t afford to meet their needs right now.  You’ll meet them in the future when conditions make that possible.
In the case of Older Adults and Parent Education, these programs are such a small part of Adult Education which is already the cheapest and smallest branch of public education, and we are no longer in a budget crisis, and seniors and parents helped to pass Prop 30 which is a big reason why we have this money to spend…. 
So…  why are these programs being eliminated?
Does Brown think Seniors and Parents are groups without worth? 
Or that their needs are invalid?  
Or does he mistakenly think they take but don’t give?
It is easy to see the economic value of immigrants and young adults and job seekers. Either already or very soon, they will be contributing to the great economic engine of the state.
The value of families is different.
And really, when we talk about parents and seniors, we’re talking about family.
Because even though seniors were part of the state economic engine for many, many years or still are (as Brown is), and paid and pay taxes, they aren’t generally seen as part of the economic engine. 
They’re seen as a drain on the engine in the form of healthcare costs and simply because most of them are retired (again, except Brown and a few others… like the man who explained why all those mistakes were made on the new Bay Bridge.  I think that guy is in his eighties.).
A state with great industry has money.
A state with great industry and great stability can spend that money on good things – infrastructure, education, recreation, intellectual expansion, etc.
A state with great industry and great instability spends its money on prisons, juvenile detention centers, social problems, and rehabs.
Which one sounds like California?
We need great schools.  We do. 
We also need great families.
And it’s utterly fair to for families to need and receive support in order to be the best families they can be.
Great families, more than anything else, provide tremendous stability to a culture. 
It is worth the small cost it takes to provide families with Parent Education classes and Older Adults classes.
Schools prepare our young people for jobs and participation in civic life, but they can never do what a family does.
No aftercare program, no matter how wonderful it is, is the same thing as a strong, stable family.
This is not to say we shouldn’t have aftercare programs!  We should!  And I personally have used them for my own child.  Good ones.  Which I appreciated very much.
But they are aftercare programs.  They are NOT FAMILIES.
School is school.
And family is family.
And schools need money to be good schools – to teach the Common Core and Civics and ESL and everything else that is needed to prepare our people for work and civic life and democracy.
(Like how does a bill and a budget get passed?  Wow, this activism stuff is teaching me about civics in a way school never did.)
And families need support to help them cope with everything from a challenging set of toddler twins to a grandparent who needs an exercise class to avoid the falls that result in a broken hip that result in mom or dad taking time from work to help grandma recover from her hip surgery – not to mention coping with the wild combo platter of the twins, their depressed teenage brother, the lonely mother-in-law with the broken hip, and the angry boss because once again, you’re out with a family problem and migraines from stress.
It’s okay to need help as a family.
It’s okay and it’s human and with actually with a fairly small amount of reasonably priced support, families can cope with a lot of stress.
Human beings are strong and adaptable.  We can cope with a lot.
But we do sometimes need a bit of help.
And that’s okay.
I’m writing this petition update  - I know, why the heck am I sharing all this, hunh?! – because we still have a little window of time and I’m suggesting we use it.
Let’s speak up.
Let’s tell the Governor and the Legislature that Adult Education matters –
Including Adult Education for Older Adults and Parents.
It’s low-cost.
It’s needed.
It’s effective.
And seniors and parents have already paid for it through decades of taxes in the case of seniors and Prop 30 in the case of both parents and seniors.
And if Gov. Brown and the Legislature choose not to pay for it…
If they choose to exclude and eliminate it…
They need to say why.
That’s basic.  That’s fair.
One more thing – while I use the word family here, perhaps a better word is community.
Not everyone has kids.  Not everyone has parents.  But we’re all part of a community.
And it’s a community that is far stronger when its kids and seniors are loved and cared for.
Someone slipping into dementia because of loneliness and inactivity doesn’t make for a stronger economy – or a better place to live as a human being.  More like, if that senior is part of a state with a strong economy, a lot of money will have to go to healthcare costs. And a lot of seniors will suffer deep emotional pain and loneliness.  And a lot of other people will do a lot to shut out that pain because it makes them feel sad and guilty and afraid, because maybe one day that will be them or right now it is their mother or sister or neighbor.   Again, sound familiar?
It’s possible to provide parents and seniors with the support they need through an already existing and proven program.
It’s called Adult Education.
So get out your pens and pencils. Or pick up the phone.  Or send an email.
You can click here to contact the Governor.  Be sure to tell him we need Designated Funding and we need it NOW, while you’re at it.  And make CDE the banker – because remember, when you’re giving twins twenty bucks each, it is not a good idea to hand one of them forty bucks and the other one nothing with the instruction that the money is for both of them.
You can click here to contact AARP because they’re not listening to me although they have offered me a very cool travel bag if I join them.  Maybe they’ll listen to you.
You can click here read George’s idea on how we can pay for Older Adults classes in a very low-cost way.
You can click here to see Maureen’s video on the difference Older Adults classes make in the lives of seniors.

You can click here to hear what Irma Becerra Nunez knows about that, too.  
You can click here to read about the Ripple Effects of Older Adults and Parent Education classes.
You can click here to read about that amazing Older Adult who is pointing out what went wrong with the Bay Bridge.
You can click here to read about another Older Adult who is thinking of running for another term in 2014.
You can click here to read about why families need support.
You can click here to read about why seniors do.
You can click here and here to read two of my favorite authors on these matters.
And finally, you can click here to enjoy some downhome fun cuz goldarnit, this activism stuff is tiring and sometimes you need some JOY to keep you going.
I joke around a lot but you know I’m dang serious about all this.
And I’m dang serious, too, when I say thank you for signing the petition, thank you for reading all the way through this, and thank you for being awake in a world that is full of pain as well as joy, hardship as well as ease, injustice as well as peace. 
It’s not easy to keep going sometimes.  I know.  I get that.  Sometimes, in fact, it’s too hard – and people give up.
That’s why it’s all the more important to share our strength and offer support, to work as a group for the benefit of the individual, and as an individual for the benefit of the group - just as we do in a family.
Thanks for doing that with me here. 

No comments:

Post a Comment