Letter to Governor Brown

Governor Jerry Brown

C/O State Capitol, Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Brown:

As an adult school teacher since 1997, I am writing to request that increased funding for adult schools be included in the state budget for 2017-2018 in the form of an increase to the Adult Education Block Grant (AEBG).  While the consortia represent an exciting new direction for both adult schools and community colleges, adult schools continue to be hobbled by persistent underfunding. We have worked hard to make the consortia work, and we deserve a more financially secure future.

Adult schools have not had an increase in funding since 2008, when our funding was dramatically decreased through categorical flexibility.  Our funding stabilized in 2013 at about half what it was before 2008, and we haven’t had even a small increase since then.  Last year, we were the only branch of California’s education system that did not receive an increase, even though we had been more deeply cut than any other branch and had waited longer to have some of our funding restored.

This frozen level of funding actually amounts to a cut, because costs keep going up.  The prices of materials and equipment have not been frozen since 2008; they keep going up every year.  Clerical and administrative staff who work at adult schools are employees of the district, not the adult school, and their salaries go up when pay  for workers in their classification goes up for the district as a whole. The adult school has to cover these raises whether it can afford to or not.  Whenever costs go up, we have no option but to cut into programs, which hurts our students.

As a long time adult school teacher, I can attest that the last eight years have been years of constant strain over insufficient funds.  The unending struggles around funding are exhausting and draining; they consume the energy we would like to put into the innovation and collaboration that are mandated for the consortia. Instead of improving and expanding our programs, we have to put all our resources into finding ways to cut them without causing too much damage.

Because the consortia are all different, you may be hearing that some adult schools are doing well. That may be true, but please consider how different the resources are for each consortium.  Some consortia are located in more well-to-do areas that were not as affected by cuts during the recession.  Some school districts are giving their adult schools funding in addition to what the state provides through the AEBG, but many are not. Some community colleges generously gave up some AEBG money to build up adult schools, others were not able to do this.

It is important to look at the basic amount of funding the state is providing for adult schools, because that is all the money some of them get. It is inadequate, and the gap between adult schools that came out of the recession relatively unscathed and those that were practically devastated will continue to grow until the state increases the basic level of funding for all adult schools.

Please consider an increase in funding for adult schools. We have been waiting a very long time.

Thank you for considering my request,

Sincerely,

Kristen Pursley

CC: Senator Nancy Skinner

Assembly Member Tony Thurmond

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