Saturday, December 20, 2014

Why California’s Adult Schools Need Dedicated Funding By Communities Organized to Support Adult School (COSAS)

K-12 Adult Schools Need Dedicated Funding. The governor has proposed that all funding for K-12 adult schools come through the Community College Chancellor’s Office by way of the Regional Consortia. However, adult schools need dedicated funding to assure the maintenance of their particular strengths. The state can better assure access to adult education services for all Californians and the continuing support of adult schools for the mission of the K-12 schools by providing dedicated funding for adult schools.

1. According to the state Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) adult schools work well for their students. In 2012, the LAO conducted an extensive study of the state’s community college and adult school system and released its findings in a report entitled “Restructuring California’s Adult Education System”. On page 15, the report notes that outcomes for adult schools are comparable to outcomes for community college non-credit programs.

2. Adult schools support the mission of K-12 Schools. Adult school Parent Education, Family Literacy and Credit Recovery programs support the mission of K-12, but not the mission of community colleges. Adult education classes in schools increase parent involvement in the schools, and make schools into community centers. Adult schools need to receive dedicated funding through the K-12 schools so they continue their close association with and support for K-12 schools.

3. Because they are part of K-12 districts, adult schools can provide accessible, community based classes that serve their students best by holding classes at K-12 sites. Because many adult school students are low-income and have limited access to transportation, classes at the neighborhood school work well for them. If all money for adult schools comes through the community colleges, there is a risk that adult schools will become alienated from their K-12 districts; they could even be seen as an incursion into the affairs of the K-12 district by the community college. This could make it more difficult for adult schools to hold classes at K-12 district facilities, thus reducing access for many students. Adult schools need dedicated funding to assure continued use of K-12 district facilities.

4. The teaching of basic literacy, the primary function of adult schools, is more in line with the mission of K-12 schools than the mission of community colleges, which is to provide college-level instruction. Adult Basic Education is the equivalent of an elementary education, and adult school High School Diploma programs are equivalent to a secondary education. Most adult school ESL students read English at below the 8th grade level. Community colleges are institutions of higher learning. They provide some remediation for their students, but that is not their core mission. Adult schools need dedicated funding so that they can continue prioritizing basic literacy education, thus fulfilling the state’s commitment to a basic education for all Californians.

5. The ratio of adult schools to community colleges is almost 3:1; adult schools need dedicated funding to assure that adults will have adequate access to education. There are about 300 adult schools in California and about 112 community colleges. Community colleges are concentrated in urban centers; rural and remote areas. If all funding for adult education comes through community colleges, there is no guarantee that community colleges will maintain adult school services in a crisis rather than saving their own programs. This could lead to further closures of adult schools during the next fiscal crisis, resulting in severely reduced access to educational services for adults in the state.

For a more in-depth treatment of this subject, see

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