Higher Education Committee Hearing on SB 173; Bill to Be Re-examined in January

On August 14, SB 173 (Liu) was heard by the Assembly Committee on Higher Education.  After hearing arguments for and against the legislation, including a long line of opponents who had come to speak against the bill, many members of the committee expressed opposition or said they were not ready to vote for the bill as written.  The bill was converted into a two-year bill, and will be heard again in January.

If passed, SB 173 would, among other things, eliminate state funding for Older Adult, Parent Education, Health and Safety and Home Economics programs in both adult schools and community colleges. During the Assembly Education Committee hearing on the bill back in June, the organizations formally opposing the bill barely mentioned this feature of the bill as a reason to oppose it, though some members of the public who came to oppose the bill cited this reason.  At the August 14 hearing, the elimination of the designated programs was vigorously discussed, with many, including committee members, citing it as a reason to oppose or call for amendment of the bill.

In their discussion, several Higher Education Committee members pointed out that cutting programs now may be seen as a betrayal by Californians, who voted for Proposition 30 in hopes that there would be no further cuts to the state’s education system.  Others pointed out that, in the spirit of the Local Control Funding Formula, local communities should be able to work out what services best serve them through the new consortia.

Some individual committee members made statements that were highly supportive of adult schools. Assembly Member Steve Fox, (D) Palmdale, who has taught adult education classes, said that merging the community college and adult school systems was a big mistake, and that we should keep the current system, which “isn’t broken”.

Assembly Member Jose Medina, (D) Riverside, also a former adult education teacher, commented that education should be life long, and that, even with reduced resources, he does not think the program should be reduced.  As a former English as a Second Language teacher, he was wary of another feature of SB 173, its provision that funding for adult education programs be performance based. He pointed out that the progress of a new immigrant struggling to learn English at the age of 40 or 50 might be hard to measure accurately.

Reginald Jones-Sawyer, (D) Los Angeles, pointed out that Parent Education and even Home Economics classes could be a crucial resource for released prisoners reentering their communities, as many have been incarcerated since adolescence and have never developed those skills.

You can view the entire hearing here:

http://www.calchannel.com/recent-archive/

Here is a link to an article about the hearing in Edsource, by Susan Frey. The comments are well worth reading, as arguments for and against eliminating state funding for Parent Education and Older Adult programs are laid out in detail.

http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/bill-to-limit-focus-of-adult-education-is-temporarily-derailed/37376#.Ug4sjJKTh9I

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