Monday, June 23, 2014

Where do we stand?

Notes on

Adult Education Reform

California Fiscal and Policy Context
• Recovery from state budget crisis; education funding still below pre-recession level
• Proposition 30: Nov. 2012
• Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF): 2013-14 Budget
  • Local autonomy
  • Weighted funds for ELLs
  • Community/ parent involvement in budget process  
  • LCAP
Common Core
  • Current backlash- NPE, BATs, Wear Red for Ed, etc. -  grassroots social justice groups are gaining momentum fighting problematic aspects of education reform.
  • What does it mean for Adult Ed?
    • Changes in writing instruction- personal narrative (out) / dissecting text (in)
    • Rubrics for ESL assignments (goes against research on lowering affective filter, etc.)
    • Nonfiction reading (deciphering texts rather than Language Experience model)
    • Less flexibility for teachers / standardization of instruction
State Demographic Imperatives
    • 54% of CA youth are immigrants or children of immigrants (3.3 million)
    • 1st generation= 1.1 million
    • 2nd generation= 2.2 million
CA is home to 1/3 of U.S. English Language Learners (K-12) & Nearly 30% of DACA-eligible youth

Sources: MPI analysis of pooled 2011-13 Current Population Survey; U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2002-03 through 2010-11; Office of Refugee Resettlement, 2012. MIGRATION POLICY INSTITUTE

  • Massive cuts and program closures since 2009
  • “Flexibility:” 50-60% of state adult ed funds redirected to other purposes  
  • Winners and losers as resources rationed
    • Designated Funding for Adult Schools
    • Where? When? How?
    • Misconceptions - local districts will fund programs if they deem them worthy (Haven’t we been down that road?)
    • Level of vulnerability unacceptable
    • Regardless of funding level, need to establish secure funding stream to ensure survival of the California Adult School system in the future
  • Desire to ensure that we remain part of our school districts (accessibility, cost, collaboration)
Assembly Bill 86
Regional consortia of K-12 and community college providers of adult education
  • Focus on postsecondary education goals
  • Consequences for less-prepared learners?
    • Meeting the needs of basic skills students and/or students who don’t have postsecondary education goals
The jury is still out…
March 2015 regional consortia plans are due to Gov. Brown and will inform policy:
  • Type of funding
  • Level of funding
Changes at the Federal level will impact CA
National Action Plan for AE - TBA

Far from being broken, disorganized or dysfunctional, as so many policy documents claim, adult education serves its students well. If you carefully read policy documents like the recent Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) report on restructuring adult education or the State Strategic Plan for Adult Education on which the LAO report is based, you find a lot of generalizations about how adult schools are in a terrible mess, but no facts to back it up.
- Kristen Pursley, Communities Organized to Support Adult School (COSAS)

The only way to be sure (K-12 adult education) will survive is through categorical spending.
- Paul Steenhausen, Legislative Analyst’s Office

While there were no significant changes relative to the future of adult education, the May Revise did contain provisions that would suspend local educational agencies from establishing new federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) affiliated charter schools and charter schools that offer correctional education until a more comprehensive plan for adult education is developed next budget cycle. Concerns peaked with the Administration, Legislature and Department of Education (CDE) earlier this year with the establishment of an adult-focused charter school in Northern California. Currently, these schools can claim LCFF based funding for adult average daily attendance, which no other local educational agency may claim.  

Ultimately, the Administration and Legislature are interested in the development of a more comprehensive plan for adult education in both delivery systems–CCC and K-12—that takes into account the benefits and strengths of both systems and ensures stability and beneficial outcomes for the students we serve.  In this regard, we are working aggressively to ensure that plan protects K-12 adult schools, while at the same time continuing the regional consortia work that was initiated under AB 86 last year.
- Dawn Koepke, CCAE Lobbyist

The Lexington Institute is one of the groups that regularly writes "reports' based on their "research" and generates articles that are fed to media outlets, pushing the idea that adult education run by the state is "broken" and a waste of taxpayers' money.  
Here's part of the mission statement of the Lexington Institute:
The Lexington Institute believes in limiting the role of the federal government to those functions explicitly stated or implicitly defined by the Constitution. The Institute therefore actively opposes the unnecessary intrusion of the federal government into the commerce and culture of the nation, and strives to find nongovernmental, market-based solutions to public-policy challenges. We believe a dynamic private sector is the greatest engine for social progress and economic prosperity.
“Another potential advantage is that adult education services are generally governed by federal guidelines and states rather than the 15,000 autonomous local school boards who oversee K-12 education (and control the purse strings). As such, the adult education market can be much less decentralized than it is in K-12 education, theoretically making it easier –if smaller– to sell into.”
“There are several other positives: Data are getting better. (Starting two years ago, states began tracking and reporting these outcomes independently.) And the market is growing thanks to moves by community colleges in big states like Texas and Florida that have begun referring developmental (i.e., remedial) students to adult education rather than serving them in a community college setting. More money is coming in from states like California where the Governor proposed a $100 million increase.”
“Key trends particular to adult education include the idea of contextualizing learning in a specific job or industry rather than teaching skills in isolation or without any particular goal in mind, “bridging” adult learning with community college programs, and accelerating learning by teaching basic skills and job-specific information at the same time (sort of like dual enrollment for high school students).”
“While adult education has long been a “hidden” market, its programs often ‘shoved off in a corner,’ all that seems to be changing, says to Pearson SVP Jason Jordan. ‘Suddenly it’s becoming a much more interesting marketplace.’”
“EdSurge is the leading site for educators, entrepreneurs and investors involved in education technology. We help educators discover the best products for their students; we help developers understand what educators and learners need; we help investors make sense of the edtech market.”
Narrowing the Mission of Adult Ed
This 2008 report "called on Congress and state governments to make postsecondary and workforce readiness the new mission of the adult education and workforce skills system."
National Commission on Adult Literacy - The Council grew out of two background assessment and planning projects carried out in early 2001. Funding for that work came from Harold W. McGraw, Jr., The Ford Foundation, and The Carnegie Corporation. One project assessed the status and lingering problems of adult literacy, following the work of the Business Council for Effective Literacy (BCEL); the other explored the feasibility of establishing a blue-ribbon commission on adult literacy. Both projects developed lengthy research and action agendas, and the rationale for them. CAAL was formed to build on that foundation, including the work of BCEL, its predecessor organization.

Chairman of NCAL, David Perdue (Dollar General Literacy Foundation)

for more information on the current state of Adult Ed in CA, visit: &

Saturday, June 7, 2014

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. 
At first we were all working alone in our own communities, but gradually we found out about each other and began to connect, mostly through social media.  Now the Great Recession is finally over, and California is enjoying a recovery. But adult school programs in some communities are still closing their doors, and the entire state is in danger of losing some highly effective programs such as Parent Education courses and classes for  Older Adults.  Adult schools in California are in a precarious position, with no guaranteed source of funding
after 2015.  It’s time for us to meet!
Your contribution to our meeting could help save adult education in California for future generations. The Grassroots Adult Education Meeting in Berkeley, California will draw together adult school students and teachers, elected officials, the media, academics, and community members to discuss the future of California’s adult schools.  Student voices and leadership will take center stage, because, during the storm that has raged around adult education for more than half a decade, students have rarely been asked about their needs and wants.  The meeting will raise awareness about the value of adult schools and the ways, good and bad, that new state education policies are affecting them. Elected officials and other community leaders will have an opportunity to commit to adult education and explain what they can do to help. Adult school advocates will have a chance to get to know each other better and strategize about how to work together more powerfully. We expect that about 200 people will attend.
Our $800 budget will be entirely spent on the basic expenses of putting on the meeting and some features that will make it easier and more comfortable for our most important participants, adult school students, to attend.  Our space is donated, but we will have to pay for a custodian and for supplies.  To make the conference more accessible for adult school students and others with young families, we will provide babysitting for pre-school age children and serve a simple but nutritious lunch.  All funds raised will be spent on the meeting. If we do not reach our goal, the meeting will still be held; we will just have to cut back on what we can provide.
All donors will be thanked at the conference, and donors’ names will appear on the agenda for the day as supporters of the meeting.
Upon request,  all donors will be sent a copy of our power point about the history and current situation of adult education.
For a contribution of $25 or more , we will send you a  beautiful red Communities Organized to Support Adult School (COSAS) tee shirt, with the COSAS logo (Educated Parents=Educated Children=Educated Workforce=Educated Communities=Educated World) on the front and a raised fist holding a pencil on the back.  Great to wear every Tuesday, which is Wear Red for Adult Ed day!
Adult schools are so tightly woven into the fabric of  everyday life that they are often not noticed. But it is likely that there are few families in California that have not been touched by adult school in one way or another. Did one of your parents or grandparents learn English in an adult school?  Did you?  Do you have a family member that earned a high school diploma or GED through an adult school program?  Do you know anyone who received job training or retraining through an adult school? Did you ever take a CPR or First Aid course through an adult school, or a class that helped you prepare to cope with a disaster in your community? Did you ever take an adult school foreign language class, or an adult school exercise class that helped you deal with a debilitating injury?  Adult school is for you.
We have seven years of experience with saving adult schools for all Californians.  We have put on events successfully before, including candidates’ nights and an Adult Education Summit.  We have analyzed legislation, met with elected officials, and testified before legislative committees.  We have learned an enormous
amount about politics, mostly by the seat of our pants.  Help us take our advocacy to the next level so we can preserve a system that has served California well for more than 150 years.
Even if you can’t donate, please share information about our campaign with others.  We appreciate any help you can give us!
Thank you!