Comments by Mike Wada of California Council for Adult Education on AB 189

The following comment from Mike Wada, President of the LA Metro Section of California Council for Adult Education (CCAE) is posted here for informational purposes.  Communities Organized to Support Adult School  (COSAS) does not necessarily agree with everything that is said here, but the comment, which is apparently a quote from a letter by CCAE lobbyist Jeff Frost, gives some explanation regarding why the bill was amended in the way it was. Thanks to COSAS member Pat Miles for forwarding this comment. 

The following from Mike Wada was just posted on the “Around the Capitol” Website: http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/Bills/AB_189/20112012/
He’s posted at least 2 others, too. Go to the comments at the site, type <command F> and type “Mike Wada”

Mike Wada
— 1 hour ago
There is great misunderstanding re: The amended AB 189. Here is part 1, which is a letter from Jeff Frost, CCAE lobbyist:

Why We Amended the Bill – In a perfect world, it would have been nice to be able to move a bill that protected a significant percentage of adult education funds from being subject to redirection to K-12 programs. However, given the Governor’s desire to extend flexibility for 2 years (language to do this is contained in the budget bill now on the floors of each house) and the support for this from a vast majority of legislators of both parties, it would not have been possible to move the bill in its original form out of its first committee. In fact, the author and I met with Julia Brownley the Education Committee chair, and she indicated that it would be very difficult for her to support a bill that “tied the hands of local board” in how they used categorical flexibility given that program cuts are still being made due to budget reductions by the state.

Does AB 189 Extend Flexibility – This is a critical point. The amended version of AB 189 does include an extension of flexibility. However, it was done as a means of ensuring consistency with the actions of the 2011-12 budget process. The Governor and legislators have already made the decision to extend flexibility. If we had not included this amendment, it would have been done by the committee when the bill was heard in order to make it consistent with prior budget actions. If for some reason, the 2 year extension of flexibility is not included in the final budget or if the legislature determined to alter its prior action, we will do the same in AB 189 and amend out the extension. Again, the extension of flexibility is not being done as a result of AB 189.

The Value of the Current Version of the Bill – While the amended version of the bill does not provide the type of protection for adult education that CCAE wanted to achieve, it does make a strong statement about the need to ensure that local boards cannot close adult programs. In fact, the bill two very strong statements: 1) the bill states that categorical flexibility is for the purpose of addressing the current fiscal emergency and is intended to last only for the duration of this fiscal emergency, and 2) it states legislative intent that in making its determination about staffing for adult education, and the other programs designated in the bill, a district must ensure that there are an adequate number of administrative and credentialed teaching staff to provide a baseline level of core courses during the period that funding flexibility is authorized. These are important points and will help community members and adult programs staff advocate for protecting adult education programs as local boards are considering making deeper cuts or closing entire programs.

Why Were the Words “Adult Education” Taken Out of the Title of the Bill – Based on conversations with other legislators, Assembly member Eng determined it would be valuable to extend the basic protections against program closure to programs other than adult education. The bill includes regional occupation programs, GATE and CAHSEE remediation programs. AS a result, the title was changed to education finance which is a more accurate title. One thing should be remembered – the title of a bill does not become law. It is a convenience for legislators and staff in cataloging bills. The key is what the bill language itself actually says.

CCAE, as the sponsor of the bill, has taken the lead in advocating for the protection of adult education. We will continue to do so. However, it is our view that having a bill die in a committee in March is not as productive as being able to move a bill that (while not as meaningful in terms of protection) does allow us to continue to make the case against flexibility and for adult education. It also ensures that there will be a requirement for more robust debate at the local school board on the need to protect adult ed programs.

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