The Regional Consortia Will Work Better with Dedicated Funding for Adult Schools; the Local Control Funding Formula Will Work Better with a Broad Mission for Adult Schools; an Open Letter to Governor Brown

Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

C/O State Capitol, Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA 95814

 

Dear Governor Brown:

 

Your administration has succeeded in bringing some dramatic reforms to California’s education system. The Local Control Funding Formula transforms school funding, and the consortia for adult schools and community colleges changes the face of adult education.  Both of these reforms will work better if adult schools have their own dedicated funding and can maintain a broad mission that includes state funding for adult school programs that support families.

The consortia will work better if adult schools have a guaranteed funding source.    As the consortia are currently structured, the power imbalance between the community colleges and adult schools is too great.  Community colleges have funding whether they participate in consortia or not, and there are no consequences for them if they opt out, as some have already done. If community colleges do choose to enter into consortia, all the money comes through their budget, even if the school district is the fiscal agent.  On the other hand, adult schools can’t get funding unless they team up with a community college, and even if they do, they don’t control the money.  With this kind of inequality, the consortia simply can’t be equal partnerships.

Even if an adult school can find a community college to collaborate with, the community college holds the adult school’s fate in its hands, a fact both parties will be well aware of.  Adult schools have valuable ideas and experiences to bring to the table as the consortia go forward, but in a situation where the balance of power is so heavily weighted to the community college side, the voices of adult schools are likely to be ignored.

While the Legislative Analyst’s Office report on adult education in California identified a need to extend adult education services into underserved areas, the consortia as currently organized could lead to a significant reduction in adult education services in California, particularly in rural areas.  Some rural areas are served only by adult schools, with the nearest community college located some distance away, sometimes even in another county.  If the nearest community college is not interested in entering into a consortium, the adult schools are supposed to find another community college that is willing to collaborate.  But in a rural area, that community college could be so far away that it really doesn’t serve the same population as the adult school at all. If the next nearest community college is not interested in collaborating, the adult school has no avenue to find funding, and will have to close. This could leave underserved areas in California with even fewer services than before.

Dedicated funding for adult schools would remedy this situation.  If adult schools have independent funding they can rely on, they will be able to participate equally in the planning process with the community colleges.  With dedicated funding for adult schools, the consortia are more likely to come up with plans that provide the best education services for California’s adults.

The Local Control Funding Formula will also work better if the mission of adult schools remains broad, maintaining state funding for services like Parent Education, Family Literacy and Older Adult programs that support families. These programs provide significant direct support to school districts. Parent Education pre-school programs help young children enter school ready for kindergarten, while Parent Education classes offered at school sites can help parents of older children with everything from helping their children succeed at math to keeping them out of gangs. Family Literacy programs at school sites help parents learn how to promote literacy in the home, and are especially valuable for parents who are themselves learning English.

Adult school Older Adult programs also support K-12 schools. When schools need volunteers to work with children, they go to Older Adult programs to recruit.  Active seniors make good school volunteers, because they are free during the day when children are in school, and they bring a lifetime of experience to the job.  A survey of just two senior centers in the district I work in showed that volunteer contributions by students in the adult school Older Adult program amounted to over $76,000 worth of time donated.

If adult school Parent Education, Family Literacy and Older Adult programs lose their funding, districts will have to find ways to replace the services provided by adult schools. Adult schools already have the infrastructure and resources to provide these services.  If the infrastructure is torn down, it will be much more expensive to replace it than it would have been to keep it in place.

Instead of defunding some adult school programs, the state would do well to build upon their strengths. The Local Control Funding Formula could best reach its full potential if adult schools are funded to support school districts.  And providing guaranteed funding for adult schools would greatly improve the consortia by transforming them into a partnership of equals.

Sincerely,

 
Kristen Pursley

Attachments:  “Parenting Education is Economic Development” by Partnership for America’s Economic                              Success http://www.readynation.org/uploads/20090708_PAESParentingBriefFinal.pdf

“Social Value of Adult Learning for Adult Social Care” by NIACE http://shop.niace.org.uk/social-value-social-care.html

 

CC w/o attachments:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson

Senator Loni Hancock

Assemblymember Nancy Skinner

Assemblymember Das Williams, Chair, Assembly Committee on Higher Education

Assemblymember Rocky Chavez, Vice Chair, Assembly Committee on Higher Education

Assemblymember Richard Bloom, Member, Assembly Committee on Higher Education

Assemblymember Paul Fong, Member, Assembly Committee on Higher Education

Assemblymember Steve Fox, Member, Assembly Committee on Higher Education

Assemblymember Reginald B. Jones-Sawyer, Sr., Member, Assembly Committee on Higher Education

Assemblymember Marc Levine, Member, Assembly Committee on Higher Education

Assemblymember Eric Linder, Member, Assembly Committee on Higher Education

Assemblymember José Medina, Member, Assembly Committee on Higher Education

Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, Member, Assembly Committee on Higher Education

Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber, Member, Assembly Committee on Higher Education

Assemblymember Scott Wilk, Member, Assembly Committee on Higher Education

Assemblymember Joan Buchanan, Chair, Assembly Education Committee

Assemblymember Kristin Olsen, Vice Chair, Assembly Education Committee

Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, Member, Assembly Education Committee

Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, Member, Assembly Education Committee

 

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