Sample Letter

Here is a sample letter to send to state legislators.  You can use it “as is” or adapt it as you see fit.

Dear __________________,

I am writing in response to the recommendation in the Governor’s Budget that Tier III Flexibility funding for California school districts be extended into the 2014-2015 school year.  If Flexibility is extended, I request that adult education be removed from Tier III and provided with a protected funding source.

California has had an adult education program for 155 years, almost as long as California has been a state.  This program has survived numerous economic downturns, including the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Currently, California law mandates that adult education provide free educational services for some of California’s most vulnerable populations, including English as a Second Language classes for California’s large immigrant population, classes for older adults that help them stay healthy and active and classes for adults with disabilities that help them care for themselves and join the workforce.  Adult education also provides a second chance at a high school diploma for students who were unable to graduate by age 18, and preparation for the GED.  And, for a low cost, adult education provides short-term job retraining and licensing that is a vital resource for communities as they seek to recover from the economic downturn. 

This program that has been a part of the fabric of California life for more than a century and a half has been devastated by Tier III Flexibility.  Some districts have closed their adult schools and others have cut them back so severely they barely exist.  Tier III Flexibility may eventually lead to the extinction of adult education in California, and every year Flexibility is extended increases the risk.  This devastation was set in motion by an accounting maneuver, with no discussion of the merits of adult education, no debate as to what the effects of crippling or eliminating the program might be. The laws regarding adult education, laws that had been debated, voted on, and signed into law, were simply temporarily suspended, in violation of the will of the people of California and without regard for the people’s welfare.

The elimination of adult education in California will cost the state money and impede its ability to recover from the economic crisis.  With large numbers of immigrants unable to learn English or gain the life skills they need to navigate life in the United States, more unemployed workers unable to retrain, no chance of a high school diploma or GED for the states’ high school dropouts, the state will experience widespread poverty and the social ills that accompany it. Older adults without the stimulation and social support adult education provides will go from being community volunteers to nursing home residents,  at a much greater cost to the state.  Adults with disabilities who could have been working with the support of their adult education program may become a problem for their communities instead.

The fight over adult education funding precipitated by Tier III flexibility is tearing communities apart at this time when they most need to work together.   Immigrant parents who know they need English in order to support their children’s education are pitted against parents who don’t need English.  Older adults and people with disabilities are shunted aside, their needs disregarded and disparaged by those more fortunate.  Please take adult education out of Tier III and restore its funding.  Assert once again that all Californians are important and have a right to education.  Moving adult education out of Tier III is something we can do, without raising taxes, to reverse the horrendous war on the poor and less fortunate that has been the California budget process for so many years.

Sincerely,

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