Why Keeping Adult Schools within the K-12 System Serves Californians Best:

The Governor’s Budget Plan recommends that adult education classes be reorganized under the community colleges.  Governor Brown is to be thanked for recommending funding for adult education. However a recent recommendation by the Legislative Analyst’s Office(LAO) that adult schools and community colleges remain two separate systems with better coordination between the two will serve adults better than the Governor’s Budget Plan recommendation that the two systems be joined, for the following reasons:

1. The Governor’s Plan  reduces adult education funding by $100 million. California spent about $400 million on adult schools in 2011-12, down from $635 million in 2007-2008, the last year before categorical flexibility was enacted (Legislative Analysts’ Office Report, “Restructuring California’s Adult Education System”, p. 12).  Since districts have progressively flexed more adult school funds since 2009, 2011-12 represents a low point in adult school funding. The Governor’s Budget Plan allocates $300 million, a further $100 million reduction. 

 2. The amount allocated by the Governor’s Plan is too little to maintain adult school services at current levels, much less replicate them under a different system. Most of the 300 adult schools in California currently operate on budgets of more than $1 million; the Governor’s Plan allocates about $1 million per adult school to the community colleges to build a new system replicating adult school services.

3. With the ratio of adult schools to community colleges at almost 3:1, reorganizing adult schools under community colleges would result in reductions in service.  There are about 300 adult schools in California and about 112 community colleges.  Under the  Governor’s Plan, some community colleges would have to either greatly expand their service areas, which might lead to inefficiencies, or centralize their services, cutting off services for low-income students with limited access to transportation.             

4.  Reorganizing adult school services under the community colleges would make it more difficult to expand adult education services to underserved areas. Since community colleges, even more than adult schools, are concentrated near urban centers, reorganizing all of adult education under community colleges would make it even more difficult to expand services into underserved areas, as the LAO report recommends (LAO Report, p.24). 

5. The teaching of basic literacy, the primary function of adult schools, is more in line with the mission of K-12 schools than the mission of community colleges, which is to provide college-level instruction.  Adult Basic Education is the equivalent of an elementary education, and adult school High School Diploma programs are equivalent to a secondary education. Most adult school ESL students read English at below the 8th grade level. Community colleges are institutions of higher learning. They provide some remediation for their students, but that is not their core mission.

6.  The Community College Success Taskforce moves the community colleges even further away from the mission of providing basic literacy education.  Community colleges are currently focusing more on degree completions and transferrable units, not basic skills instruction.

 7. According to the LAO report, adult schools work well for their students. On page 15, the LAO report notes that outcomes for adult schools are comparable to outcomes for community college non-credit programs. 

8.  It is fiscally irresponsible to tear down a system that is working and provide startup costs to reorganize it under another system, where there are no guarantees it will work as well. Currently, most community colleges have small non-credit programs, or none at all (LAO report, p. 11). They lack the experience providing basic skills instruction that adult schools have

9.  Adult schools support the mission of K-12 Schools. Adult school Parent Education, Family Literacy and Credit Recovery programs support the mission of K-12, but not the mission of community colleges. Adult education classes in schools increase parent involvement in the schools, and make schools into community centers.              

 10.  Because they are part of K-12 districts, adult schools can provide accessible, community based classes that serve their students best by holding classes at K-12 sites. Because many adult school students are low-income and have limited access to transportation, classes at the neighborhood school work well for them. By contrast, many adult school  students don’t know where the local community college is, and could not get there if they did due to lack of transportation.  Because they are not part of K-12 districts, community colleges would not have comparable access to K-12 school sites.

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3 Responses

  1. I’m so glad I found this blog! I’ve shared this article, as well as your blog on a Facebook page created for the same purpose.
    http://www.facebook.com/AllianceForCaliforniaAdultSchools

  2. Thanks! I looked at the Alliance Facebook page today; there is a lot of useful information there.

    • Great! Thank you for visiting the FB page. I believe that if people are aware of this issue, they’ll be able to voice their opinions regarding the Governor’s proposal.

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