Wishes for the New Year: Real Change and Real Improvement

11 Dec

As the year draws to a close, the adult education community continues on its precarious journey to participating in the problem solving so desperately needed in the state of California at the present time. The journey is made that much more dangerous because of a lack of a coherent plan. The California Department of Education, although they have spent years writing the “Adult Education Strategic Plan”, has yet to find a manner of funding for their ideas and although it makes interesting reading, the plan is hollow to the core. See the full plan  at http://www.otan.us/strategicplanning/plan.html .

Each section of the plan is worthy of its own blog post but the one most meaningful to me is the part in which the state encourages adult schools to enter into the business of transitioning students to community colleges and other vocational programs through the process of building “Bridge Programs.”  Here are the actual words the state uses to describe its wish list of services:

“Develop and provide integrated, comprehensive intake, planning, and transition services within the ACET center system. Develop an integrated, comprehensive service delivery system, including: a) assessment of students’ academic skills using cross-disciplinary assessment and identification of career and employment interests and goals; b) identification and brokering of educational support services needed to motivate students to persist and facilitate learning, including necessary accommodations, mentors, online tutoring, and remediation; and c) transition services to further education and employment through dual enrollment programs with community colleges, connection of students to financial aid services, and links to job shadowing opportunities, internships, and job development services.

Ensure student success with the assistance of transition specialists. Identify the role of “transition specialists” within ACET centers to address barriers to success and facilitate seamless transitions for students. Specialists would provide guidance to students in designing and developing individual action plans and link students to programs, available career pathways, and dual enrollment opportunities, as appropriate. To ensure successful transitions to further education and employment, specialists will link students to community college programs and One Stop career centers and help students access job shadowing opportunities, internships, and job development services. Transition specialists would also link students to partner agencies such as community- based organizations and social service agencies.

Support student success by removing barriers through collaboration with partner agencies.

Partner with social services and community agencies to address barriers to success and provide students support with issues such as transportation, child care, mental or physical limitations, or other challenges to their success. Services should follow students to the next level of education or employment to ensure ongoing success.”

This all sounds great, but there is no money attached to provide these services. The report alludes to the federal government offering grants to eight states, including California, through a Policy2Performance grant, which funded  10 schools in 2011. However, the only way to get money to start a Bridge Program was to have already started one and be poised to grow the program!!!  Our adult school applied for the grant and we were told that our grant was well-received but we were not eligible because our program was not already up and running. So, unless we could find funding on our own, we were out of luck until the next funding cycle. When we inquired when that might be, no answer was available.

Our Bridge Program has survived on a wing and a miracle, a funding foundation that read about our situation and donated funds to help us through the first critical year (Big thank you to SAGE Publications/Corwin Press) and the assistance of our partner school Moorpark College, whose President Pam Eddinger has worked tirelessly on our behalf. But the state of California remains reticent on what is to become of our mission.

So, my list for the new year includes:

  • Funding from the California Department of Education
  • Guidance from the California Department of Education
  • A Strategic Plan with a budget attached
  • And, I guess, a miracle..

Happy New Year to all! Best wishes for a new prosperity in 2012!  Thank you for reading!

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2 Responses to “Wishes for the New Year: Real Change and Real Improvement”

  1. Eric Roth December 12, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    Thank you for that illuminating post that details the considerable gap between “is” and “ought” in California adult education funding. Given the bleak prospects for many programs and the huge financial crisis facing California, I’m impressed that you found silver linings and perceived possible positive outcomes in 2012.

    Perhaps if voters pass Governor Brown’s proposed tax increases we can reverse the decline in adult education – at both adult education centers and community colleges. “If” seems like the operative word here.

    • Loredana Carson December 12, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

      Thank you for your comment. You are 100% correct. “If” is a little word but it carries a lot of weight. You also chose the correct word to describe current prospects: bleak. I so wish for a better 2012 and thank you for your participation in the conversation.

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