Communities Organized to Support Adult School (COSAS) Oct. 4 Meeting Notes

 

 

Present:  Kimi Honda, West Contra Costa Adult Education (WCCAE) Older Adult teacher, Antonio Medrano, member, Board of Education, West Contra Costa Unified School District, Pat Miles, WCCAE ESL teacher, Kristen Pursley, WCCAE English as a Second Language teacher, Ken Ryan, WCCAE Parent Education Outreach teacher, Angella Seesaran, Community Member

 

Candidates’ Night for Board of Education Candidates at St. Mark Catholic Church – St. Mark Catholic Church and COSAS will collaborate to put on a candidates’ night for Board of Education candidates at St. Mark Church on Thursday, October 28.  We have a Spanish translator, and need to look for translators for other languages.  Once we have a flyer, we will leave flyers at St. Mark’s and St. Cornelius, among other locations.

Announcements and Suggestions from Antonio Medrano – Mr. Medrano had several announcements and also some suggestions for the group.

Announcements:

Saturday, October 23, at San Francisco State University,  there will be a conference on AB540 students. AB540 provides that undocumented students who have attended at least three years of high school in the United States can attend institutions of higher learning in California.  However, these students face many challenges because they cannot receive financial aid and  cannot be legally employed in the U.S. once they leave school.

Antonio Medrano is available to speak to adult education classes regarding AB540.  Interested teachers can contact Kristen Pursley  (510) 559-2660 ext. 236.  Mr. Medrano will need two weeks notice before the date when you would like to have a presentation.

 The Amnesty International Western Conference will take place November 5, 6 and 7 at the San Francisco Hilton.  Mr. Medrano will speak at this conference; details regarding the date of the speech to follow.

Suggestions:

Mr. Medrano suggested that COSAS should start preparing now to march in the Richmond Cinco de Mayo parade.  The group should get a banner that clearly identifies the organization.

COSAS should reach out to the Rotary Club and other service organizations.  These organizations provide grants and scholarships, and might be interested in supporting adult education.  The San Pablo Rotary partners with Helms Middle School, so they might be interested  assisting the adult education ESL class at Helms.  The Richmond Rotary meets on Fridays at the Mira Vista Country Club, and they are always looking for speakers.  They might be interested in having a speaker from adult education. They are always looking for projects.

Measure M (parcel tax to support WCCUSD schools)— Eight COSAS members phone banked for Measure M on Wednesday, September 29.  Kristen Pursley and Ken Ryan were the only COSAS members at the meeting who had participated in the phone banking night, and they reported mostly positive experiences.  They will phone bank again.  COSAS members are encouraged to continue participating in phone banking and precinct walking for Measure M.  

Fremont Adult School/Reaching out to other adult schools – Kristen Pursley reported on a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) meeting she had attended.  This meeting is for schools and community based organizations that receive WIA funds, and mostly adult schools from the greater Bay Area attend it.  While we keep hearing that many adult schools have completely closed down, the following adult schools were at the meeting:  Fremont, Oakland, Mt. Diablo, Napa, and New Haven.  This is a partial list.

Fremont Adult School received an EL Civics award (EL Civics is a WIA program that promotes civic participation for ESL students) for a grass-roots campaign spearheaded by students  which saved the adult school from closure.  A representative from Fremont Adult, Yelena, gave a presentation about the campaign, which started with a letter writing campaign by some of the more advanced ESL students.  Eventually students began attending Board of Education meetings in large numbers and demanding that the adult school be kept open.  Yelena said that at a certain point teachers and administrators wanted the students to back off, but at that point the movement had its own momentum and the students kept going.  Eventually one of the elementary schools actually took on the adult school students, saying the children were more important, and this actually backfired when some of the adult students countered by asking “Are we unable to learn?” and insisting that their learning was also important. 

The COSAS group agreed that we would like to invite students and/or staff from Fremont and other adult schools to attend one of our meetings and talk about their experiences.

Group Excursion to “Blossoms and Thorns” – COSAS will talk to the Richmond Art Center about arranging  for WCCAE students and teachers to see the “Blossoms and Thorns” exhibit about the Japanese nurseries in Richmond that were abandoned when the Japanese population of California was interned during the Second World War.  An adult school trip is particularly appropriate because adult school students at the Sakura Kai program for Japanese seniors contributed personal stories that were incorporated into the exhibit.  The group agreed that it would be good for ESL students to see the exhibit, possibly with translation, so they can get a broader picture of the immigrant experience in Richmond through history.

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