Communities Organized to Save Adult School (COSAS) Endorses the Parcel Tax

 Present: Inocencia Dacumos, WCCAE ESL Teacher; Toni Favila, WCCAE ESL Teacher; Rosamaria Legier, WCCAE Adult Basic Education Dept.; Antonio Medrano, WCCUSD Board of Education member; Audrey Miles, WCCUSD Board of Education member; Pat Miles, WCCAE ESL Teacher; Cecilia Ornelas, Catholic Charities of the East Bay; Kristen Pursley WCCAE ESL Dept.; Lisa Raffel, Catholic Charities of the East Bay; Ken Ryan, WCCAE Parent Education Dept. 

At the meeting of August 10, 2010, Communities Organized to Save Adult School (COSAS) voted to endorse the parcel tax to support West Contra Costa schools that will be on the November 2010 ballot.  Board of Education members Antonio Medrano and Audrey Miles attended the meeting to explain about the tax and answer questions.  Mr. Medrano and Ms. Miles explained that parcel tax monies will not be specifically dedicated to adult education, but they also said that  if the parcel tax passes the money will help the district maintain its current level of services, including the adult education program at its current reduced level, although the district’s ability to maintain services will still depend on the state budget, which has not yet passed. However, the parcel tax, if it passes, will bring in $9.8 million a year in funds that the state cannot take away for the next five years. If the parcel tax does not pass, the district will once again face shortages and be forced to make cuts.

During discussion, COSAS members agreed that support for the parcel tax was consistent with the organization’s larger mission of supporting and strengthening public education as a whole.  Members did have some questions about the parcel tax survey, particularly about how the question about adult education was phrased.  The survey results showed that the public is supportive of a parcel tax, but that there was not sufficient support for a parcel tax dedicated to sustaining the adult education program.  There was some concern that the survey might be used to dismiss adult education as a program that is unimportant to the public, but Mr. Medrano and Ms. Miles assured the group that this was not the purpose of the survey and that it would not be used in that way.  Mr. Medrano and Ms. Miles did state that the people surveyed, who were “likely voters” who have voted in recent elections, tended to say that they did not use adult education, but Mr. Medrano and Ms. Miles agreed that the people surveyed might not have been representative of the large number of people who depend on adult education services.  Mr. Medrano and Ms. Miles had to leave the meeting a little early, and the group continued to discuss the survey.  The group felt that the problem with the survey might not have been so much that the target group was less likely than the general population to use adult school services, but rather that people often use adult school services without realizing that they are doing so.  One COSAS member who works at the Serra Adult School campus noted that there are people who are in fact enrolled in two adult school classes, one at a church and one at the Serra campus, who routinely say that they never take adult school classes.  This is the problem that COSAS identified early on:  adult education is so tightly woven into the fabric of the community that people often do not realize it is there, even as they make use of it.

COSAS will be helping with the parcel tax in a variety of ways.  COSAS members are encouraged to come to the parcel tax planning meetings, which take place at 7:30 am on Saturday mornings at the offices of Local One, 4197 Lakeside Drive (near Hilltop Mall, off Richmond Parkway).  The next meeting will take place on Saturday, August 28.

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