SB 173 Amended, Still Defunds Four Adult Education Programs

SB 173 (Liu) has been amended and will be heard in the California state Assembly Higher Education Committee on June 10. While the wording of the bill has been changed substantially, the legislation, if passed, would still have the effect of defunding Older Adult, Parent Education, Health and Safety and Home Economics programs in both adult schools and community colleges.

In order to understand how this works, you need to understand the three sections of California Education Code to which the bill refers:

Section 41967 enumerates ten K-12 adult school programs that are eligible for state funding:

41976. (a) For purposes of this chapter, the following classes and

courses are authorized to be offered by school districts and county

superintendents of schools for apportionment purposes from the adult

education fund:

(1) Adult programs in parenting, including parent cooperative

preschools, and classes in child growth and development, parent-child

relationships, and parenting.

(2) Adult programs in elementary and secondary basic skills and

other courses and classes required for the high school diploma.

Apportionments for these courses and classes may only be generated by

students who do not possess a high school diploma, except for

remedial academic courses or classes in reading, mathematics, and

language arts.

(3) Adult education programs in English as a second language.

(4) Adult education programs for immigrants eligible for

educational services in citizenship, English as a second language,

and workforce preparation classes in the basic skills of speaking,

listening, reading, writing, mathematics, decisionmaking and problem

solving skills, and other classes required for preparation to

participate in job specific technical training.

(5) Adult education programs for adults with disabilities.

(6) Adult short-term career technical education programs with high

employment potential. Any reference to “vocational” education or

programs in adult education means “career technical” education or

programs in adult education.

(7) Adult programs for older adults.

(8) Adult education programs for apprentices.

(9) Adult programs in home economics.

(10) Adult programs in health and safety education.

(b) No state apportionment shall be made for any course or class

which is not set forth in subdivision (a).

Section 84757 enumerates the same programs to be funded as community college non-credit classes, in almost the same language:

84757. (a) For purposes of this chapter, the following noncredit

courses and classes shall be eligible for funding:

(1) Parenting, including parent cooperative preschools, classes in

child growth and development and parent-child relationships.

(2) Elementary and secondary basic skills and other courses and

classes such as remedial academic courses or classes in reading,

mathematics, and language arts.

(3) English as a second language.

(4) Classes and courses for immigrants eligible for educational

services in citizenship, English as a second language, and work force

preparation classes in the basic skills of speaking, listening,

reading, writing, mathematics, decisionmaking and problem solving

skills, and other classes required for preparation to participate in

job-specific technical training.

(5) Education programs for persons with substantial disabilities.

(6) Short-term vocational programs with high employment potential.

(7) Education programs for older adults.

(8) Education programs for home economics.

(9) Health and safety education.

(b) No state apportionment shall be made for any course or class

that is not set forth in subdivision (a) and for which no credit is

Section 84830 is the legislation that creates the consortia between K-12 adult schools and community colleges. It enumerates programs for which the consortia can plan using planning grant funding established by section 84830.

(b) Grant funds provided pursuant to this section shall be used byeach regional consortium to create and implement a plan to betterprovide adults in its region with all of the following:   (1) Elementary and secondary basic skills, including classesrequired for a high school diploma or high school equivalencycertificate.   (2) Classes and courses for immigrants eligible for educationalservices in citizenship and English as a second language, andworkforce preparation classes in basic skills.   (3) Education programs for adults with disabilities.   (4) Short-term career technical education programs with highemployment potential.   (5) Programs for apprentices.

The eligible programs are fewer than those enumerated in sections 41976 and 84757; Parent Education (PE), Older Adult (OA), Health and Safety (H&S) and Home Economics (HE) are excluded. For purposes of brevity, these programs will be referred to hereafter as PE,OA, H&S and HE.

The old version revised Sections 41976 and Section 84757 of the Education Code to “narrow the mission” of adult education, explicitly deleting PE,OA, H&S and HE from the list of programs eligible for state funding. The new version of SB 173 leaves Sections 41976 and 84757 intact, which would seem to mean that all of the ten programs enumerated in Sections 41967 and 84757 are still eligible for state funding. However PE,OA, H&S and HE are actually defunded in the last sentence of the bill.

On its surface, the new SB 173 seems much softer than the old. The new version replaces language expressly cutting PE,OA, H&S and HE from the list of programs eligible for state funding with language directing the   Community College Chancellor’s Office and the Department of Education to develop policy recommendations to the legislature regarding accountability, assessment, evaluation, data collection and fees for adult education programs. The bill also directs the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and the Academic Senate of the California Community Colleges to review the requirements for adult education instructors. Finally, the bill states, in Section 3 (5), that it is the intent of the legislature to consider allocating base adult education funds and noncredit adult education funds “on the basis of a combination of identified needs, enrollment and outcomes “ pursuant to Section 84830 and paragraphs (2) to (6) of Section 84757 of the Education Code”.

Section 3 (5), establishing the intent of the legislature to consider allocation of funds to adult education (read K-12 adult schools) and noncredit community college programs, is tremendously important.   It is the reason some adult school advocates have been strongly urging support for this bill, even when it would have explicitly eliminated four adult education programs. Since there are no definite plans to fund adult schools beyond 2015-2016, even some rather noncommittal legislative language providing that it is the intent of the legislature to consider allocation of adult education funds, with some tentative provisions as to what the basis of funding would be, is an important achievement, a basis for establishing stable funding for adult schools again one day.

But the language of this section still defunds Parent Education, Older Adult, Health and Safety and Home Economics programs in both K-12 adult schools and community colleges. The four programs are not cut from Section 41976, which enumerates the full ten programs eligible for state funding for K-12 adult school programs. But courses offered pursuant to Section 41976 is not mentioned as a basis for possible funding. Instead, Section 84830, which enumerates fewer programs and excludes PE, OA, H&S and HE is referenced, presumably as a basis of funding for K-12 adult schools. And while Section 84757 is referenced as a basis for funding for non-credit community colleges, the bill explicitly states that only programs offered pursuant to paragraphs (2) through (6) of that section can be considered for funding. A look at Section 84757, above, shows that paragraphs (2) through (6) enumerate exactly the same programs as Section 84830. So Parent Education, Older Adult, Health and Safety and Home Economics are excluded from funding in both the K-12 adult schools and community colleges, just as in the old SB 173.

So the new SB 173 defunds four adult school and community college programs, essentially packing a sucker punch at the very end of the bill.

There are some ambiguities. Section 1 (b) of the bill provides that the Chancellor’s Office and the Department of Education shall jointly develop an accountability system for courses offered pursuant to sections 41976 and 84757. Since PE, OA, H&S and HE are still listed as programs eligible for funding In both sections 41976 and 84757, it follows that the Chancellor’s Office and Department of Education would have to develop and accountability system for those four programs along with the others. But according to the final section of the bill, the four programs would be ineligible to receive state funding even if they did have new accountability systems in place.

However, the portion of SB 173 that has to do with funding, Section 84757.5, Section 5 provides that the legislature will consider allocating adult education (read adult school) and noncredit funds on the basis of identified needs, enrollment and outcomes in courses offered pursuant to Section 84830 and paragraphs 2-6 of section 84757 of education code. Section 84830 is the legislation creating the consortia, and the consortia exclude Older Adult, Parent Education, Health and Safety and Home Economics.

There are other troubling aspects to this bill. Section 1 (c) (1) of the bill directs the Department of Education and the Community College Chancellor’s office to develop policy guidelines for the charging of fees for courses offered pursuant to Section 84830. Most of the courses enumerated in section 84830, except career technical education and apprenticeship program are currently required by law to be offered free, and currently all non-credit community college courses must be free. While SB 173 provides that fees “should not create a barrier to student access to adult education programs”, the establishment of fees for Adult Basic Education, High School Diploma and English as a Second Language programs would spell the end of a long-term commitment California has made to basic literacy. The fact is that, for many low-income students, there is no fee that would not be a barrier, since people who lack literacy in our society tend to be severely economically disadvantaged. With respect to non-credit community college classes, the question arises: what is their purpose if they are not to be offered free? Why not just have one type of community college class, credit classes offered for a fee?

Section 1 (c) (2) of the bill directs community colleges and adult schools to develop recommendations for the use of a single student identifier, but does not specify that this identifier cannot be a Social Security number, though that has been identified in discussions of this bill as a barrier to access to education for immigrants without documents.

The new SB 173 leaves us with the question, why must adult schools sacrifice four small but effective programs in order to gain any hope of stable funding? SB 173 was forged during the Great Recession, but now that the state projects billions in surpluses, the demand that these programs be abolished is the same. The programs cost only $28 million, statewide, and save the state money in the long run. The new SB 173 is a great disappointment.

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