Thank You Letters to West Contra Costa Board of Education Member Antonio Medrano

At the March 21 meeting of the West Contra Costa Board of Education, supporters of adult education voiced their concerns that the principal of West Contra Costa Adult Education had received a reassignment letter.  Teachers and students were concerned not only that they would lose their principal, but that the principal of adult education position would be eliminated.

Board of Education Secretary Antonio Medrano was chairing the public comment portion of the meeting that evening, due to an illness of the board president. When public comment was concluded, Mr. Medrano asked district staff to clarify the situation regarding the reassignment of the principal of adult education.  Assistant Superintendant Wendell Greer clarified that the reassignment letter was in preparation for a ‘worst case” California budget, and went out with about 40 similar letters to district administrators whose positions might need to be cut in the event of  more severe cuts to K-12 education in California.  The district is required to do this in years when it may have to make cuts.  When more is known about how much money the district actually has, positions will be reinstated.

So adult education in West County might still lose its principal, but if there is enough money, the position will hopefully be reinstated.

Communities Organized to Support Adult School asked that thank you letters be sent to Mr. Medrano for bringing up the question and providing adult education students, teachers, and supporters with some clarity around this issue.  The letters also make a good case for why adult education is important in
West County (and California). Some of the letters follow:

On Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 9:50 AM, Amy Aldrich  wrote:

Mr. Medrano,Thank you for making clear the situation  with our principal. We are all disturbed at the loss of our leader.The school relies on her and removing the position does nothing good.

I am an older adult exercise teacher working  at the Richmond Senior Center, teaching 5 classes a week. My students  are concerned about the future. Older adults would suffer deeply  without exercise classes. What we do is preventative, thus maintaining  health and longevity in the senior community. Without this service the   entire town and it’s health services would suffer. We would then have  very expensive misery. Let’s don’t let that happen here

in Richmond.

Thank you again for your efforts on our  behalf. It is appreciated.

Sincerely,

Amy Aldrich

 

Mr. Medrano:

> I was not able to get to the board meeting last night, but as a

> fee-based photography teacher at Serra Adult Education campus, I

> received a report from one of those who spoke in support of keeping

> the Adult Education principal’s position in the face of a letter of

> reassignment. The letter implied the position would be removed and

> adult education in the district subsumed to the Alternative and

> Continuing Education program, which primarily serves teenagers.

>

> She indicated you had taken the initiative to ask the staff for

> clarification, even though the board was not required to do more than

> listen. Thanks to your query, we now understand that the letter was

> intended only to prepare for a “worst-case scenario.” I wanted to

> extend my appreciation for your leadership in requesting an

> explanation for the letter. Obviously it doesn’t eradicate the fear

> that this vital role of the district will be shut down due to budget

> pressures, but apparently downgrading the role of the Adult Ed program isn’t a done deal.

>

> As a relatively new Adult Ed teacher, I saw a statement on posters on

> the Serra campus: “Every successful society educates its children

> early and its adults continuously.” It was written by a faculty member

> there. I assumed was a mantra of the Adult Education profession

> nationwide; it should be, because it expresses the heart of the matter.

>

> I understand the board sees its first responsibility to K-12 students,

> based on the state model that they must be prepared to be effective

> citizens with productive careers. But in today’s volatile economy, that model is obsolete.

> industries and careers we prepared for and succeeded in can disappear

> (I’m a veteran major daily news writer, now picking up occasional

> checks for free-lance articles). This puts adults, financially

> responsible for established homes and families, in the same position

> as young people-preparing for new careers-with far less flexibility to

> adjust to economic realities. It’s more true now than ever: Adults

> must be educated continually. And school district adult education

> programs are a mainstay in our society for them to adjust and remain

> employable. No other institutions are as accessible and cost-effective.

>

> As for recreational classes such as photography and yoga, it’s clear

> and right that they must pay for themselves and may even generate

> income for the district. They, too, help our society succeed because

> adults who keep themselves active and intellectually challenged

> sustain their health and cognitive abilities, remaining productive,

> self-sufficient citizens rather than economic burdens. If they’re motivated, we can’t shut doors on them.

> Commercial programs are completely out of reach for many of them.

>

> None of this can happen if Adult Ed loses its executive leadership to

> a director who already is working full-time with alternative and

> continuing education. It’s hard to imagine Adult Education will get

> the attention it needs without a dedicated manager. Please do all you

> can to buck the state-wide trend of school districts to make adult

> education programs “small enough to drown in the bathtub,” to

> paraphrase an anti-tax leader whose efforts have a lot to do with our fiscal crisis.

>

> Sincerely,

>

> Dale Mead,

> Digital Photography teacher

> El Cerrito

>

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