Letter to State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson

February 2, 2013


State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson

California Department of Education

1430 N. Street

Sacramento, CA 95814


Dear Superintendent Torlakson:

It was a pleasure meeting you at the Democratic victory celebration in Martinez on December 19.  I am writing to thank you for your statement in support of adult education in your January 24th press release. It is heartening to know that you understand the important role adult education has to play in strengthening the economy, and that you will work to see that it gets an equitable share of state resources.  As an adult educator and member of a grassroots organization, Communities Organized to Support Adult School (COSAS), I am eager to help you in any way I can.

I also want to thank you for your statement on January 10, in which you expressed concern that breaking ties between adult schools and K-12 districts might result in diminished access to adult education.  I share your concern.  As the lead teacher for the English as a Second Language  (ESL) program at West Contra Costa Adult Education, I oversee 35 ESL classes, 25 of which are at K-12 sites.  These classes are convenient for our students, many of whom have limited access to transportation.  Many can walk to their neighborhood school, but do not know where the local community college is and could not get there if they did.

Fifteen of our classes are Family Literacy classes that take place at elementary or middle schools during the mornings.  The students are mostly parents at the school, who drop their children off in the morning and then stay to take English classes themselves.  Principals have reported to me that the parents began to participate more in the school once they began taking English classes there, and many of the parents have become school volunteers through their English classes.  Many of the students report that their most important goal as English learners is to help their children with their homework and support their children’s school success.

The adult school has access to these district sites because we are part of the school district.  We do not have to enter into special agreements to use school facilities.  I worry that community colleges would not be able to duplicate the classes we now offer, because they would have a harder time getting access to school facilities.

Thank you again for your strong support of adult education.


Kristen Pursley


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