When you read the headlines that LAUSD is considering eliminating adult education as a way of coping with the current fiscal crisis, do you think about the 150 years that adult education has helped the state of California to grow and educate its adult population? Does it come to your mind that by eliminating services to the parents of its school children, LAUSD is actually going backwards in its goal of helping English Language Learners to succeed? Does it occur to you that this decision could have disastrous effects on families in Los Angeles as they struggle to adapt to the current economic conditions? Without adult education, adults have no where to turn to: learn English, receive citizenship training, learn basic skills, receive vocational training from a public as opposed to for-profit entity, receive educational services such as adult diploma and GED preparation (which LAUSD claims it may still do), participate in the low-cost lifelong learning opportunities that promote community, learn a new trade, improve their job skills with computer and technology classes, stay informed on local issues, and increase their wages by all of the above? Adult education is more than just a nice idea. It improves lives and families and incomes. The implication that our community colleges, which are stretched at the seams, are ready and waiting to absorb these adult learners is beyond the wildest stretch of the imagination. Community Colleges are in the midst of their own crisis. Even though the Little Hoover Commission recently said that the community colleges should take over adult education, there was no practical funding or plan in place for this idea to be implemented. Here is a link to the Little Hoover report: http://www.lhc.ca.gov/studies/210/Report210.pdf
The state of California deserves a cohesive plan that will allow every citizen to have the right to basic education. This right should not be doled out district by district depending on the ability of local school boards to consider the ramifications to the state as a whole. All the talk about local control hides the fact that by giving local control to school boards, many citizens could end up without the right to basic education as guaranteed in our Education Code.
This decision should not be left to local districts. Adult Education should be removed from the categorical flexibility list. One possible fix comes from Julia Brownley and AB 18.
Assembly Bill 18: Assembly Bill 18 by Julia Brownley was introduced in 2011 as a major education finance reform proposal. AB 18 seeks to accomplish the following: • Consolidates most categorical programs into three block grants to provide funding as follows: (1) Basic Funding, (2) Targeted and Equity Funding, and (3) Quality Instruction Funding. • Provides school districts with greater flexibility in addressing local needs without the constraints of categorical programs aimed at specific student populations. Of critical interest, AB 18 presently exempts Adult Education from inclusion in the block grants. As introduced in 2011, Adult Education was included in AB 18’s Basic Funding group. Opposition by Adult educators led to its removal from the block grant.