Demise of Adult Education
Failure to address the basic skills needs of the state will have lasting negative impacts on hundreds of thousands of Californians as well as the state’s economy and social climate. The Governor and Legislature should reexamine the implementation of K-12 budgetary flexibility for adult education funds, and the resulting redirection of funds intended to support these programs, to determine if this practice is consistent with California’s current social and economic needs. As part of the 2009-10 State Budget, K-12 school districts were given the authority to redirect categorical program funding originally appropriated for specified programs. As a result, roughly $634 million in Adult Education funds were made available for school districts to shift to support other K-12 categorical programs that had experienced deep funding cuts. Based on recent estimates, school districts have exercised this option and transferred approximately $300 million out of Adult Education programs. It is important to note that the decision to redirect funds is made at the district level and therefore program implementation varies from district to district. Statewide, the substantial reduction in support for K-12 adult education programs has resulted in increased demand on community colleges to provide education to this population in addition to current students’ needs for noncredit and credit basic skills courses. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, community colleges do not have the capacity to expand course offerings to meet this increased demand. As a result, large numbers of adults in need of basic skills education have gone unassisted. In addition, the considerable local variation in programmatic decisions by K-12 districts has resulted in a fractured system of basic skills delivery to an already needy yet essential segment of the California population.
Need for Legislative and Gubernatorial Direction
State leaders need to determine if the current flexibility over K-12 adult education funds is consistent with state economic and social needs and whether these funds should be rededicated to serving basic skills needs. They should also determine whether these programs would best be placed in the K-12 or community college system and provide funding commensurate with the task.*
FROM FALL 2011:
"Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges recommend that the Board of Governors urge the Legislature to assign responsibility for adult education to the California community colleges but only if sufficient funding to address this mission is provided." (http://www.asccc.org/resolutions/assign-responsibility-adult-education-california-community-colleges)
FROM FALL 1993:
"Community colleges should be responsible for all adult education in California. The college’s successful and cost-effective record of serving adults seeking basic skills, ESL and work place training is testament to their ability to serve such students. The State of California and its taxpayers would benefit from assigning this task exclusively to our community colleges and eliminating the duplicate services now provided by K-12." http://www.ccleague.org/files/public/Publications/FacingMillennium.pdf