No Increased Funding for Adult Schools: Post from Adult Education Matters

An excellent post from the Adult Education Matters (AEM) blog about the governor’s budget proposal, which includes the actual language from the governor’s ebudget about adult education, appears below.  Note that the section that relates to adult school funding, the section about the Adult Education Block Grant (bolded in the post below) does not even mention adult schools!


• Adult Education Block Grant Program — This program coordinates representatives from local educational agencies, community colleges, and other regional education, workforce, and industry partners to promote the educational opportunities offered to students and adult learners. 
Doesn’t the above sound like the Adult Education Block Grant (AEBG) funds community colleges and all sorts of other agencies involved in workforce development?  In reality, only community colleges and adult schools receive funding through the AEBG, and the AEBG is the ONLY source of state funding for adult schools, and also their MAIN source of funding.
Does it sound like Governor Brown is trying to write adult schools out of the picture?  If you don’t like it, please write a him a letter and copy your state senator and assembly member. For more see the AEM post.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017-18 Brown Budget Proposal: Still No Increase for Adult Education

Information for funding Adult Education is now in the “Investing in California’s Workforce” section of the budget.  In the past, there was information about Adult Education in the K12 and Higher Education sections.

It seems Governor Brown is slowly but surely framing Adult Education as being less about education and more about work.  That’s a nice way to avoid the truth Adult Education is and always has been – for over 150 years – part of the educational system of California.  And while Adult Education includes job skills training, just like people, Adult Education is about more than just work.

No matter what you call it or where you put it in the budget, Adult Education is not seen, treated and funded in the same way all other branches of Public Education are.

It is high time that Adult Education be given the Education Equality that Californians need and deserve.
#EducationEquality4AE now!
Here is the information from Governor Brown’s ebudget about Adult Education:

Community Colleges and Workforce

In 2015‑16, community college vocational education programs served roughly 300,000
full‑time equivalent students, about 27 percent of all community college full‑time
equivalent students. Below are several other community college programs that
strengthen workforce development and foster job creation:
• Strong Workforce Program — The Budget includes $248 million Proposition 98
General Fund for the Strong Workforce Program. This program builds upon federal
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA) funds and provides
access to more regionally aligned, career technical education and workforce
development programs/courses. It will also strengthen programmatic collaboration
among workforce investment boards, CCCs, local education agencies, and county
human services agency employment and workforce development programs. These
efforts promote greater employment opportunities and earnings potential for
participating students.
• Adult Education Block Grant Program — This program coordinates representatives

from local educational agencies, community colleges, and other regional education,

workforce, and industry partners to promote the educational opportunities offered
to students and adult learners. Through this program, students and adult learners
can access courses to complete their high school diplomas or general education
equivalent, English as a Second Language courses, and pathways courses that
lead to additional career opportunities. The Budget includes $500 million ongoing
Proposition 98 General Fund to support the Adult Education Block Grant Program.
• Apprenticeship Programs — There are over 265 apprenticeship programs sponsored
by local educational agencies, community colleges, and the Labor and Workforce
Development Agency’s (Labor Agency) Employment Training Panel which support
training to approximately 74,000 apprentices. These programs offer interested
Californians a clear pathway to obtain classroom instruction and on‑the‑job training
skills leading to gainful employment, while also providing California businesses with
well‑trained employees. The Budget includes $54.9 million ongoing Proposition 98
General Fund and approximately $13 million Employment Training Fund for
apprenticeship programs.
• Economic and Workforce Development Program — This program provides funding
for targeted investments in economic and workforce development, focusing on
priority and emergent industry sectors, providing short‑term grants to support
industry‑driven regional education and training. The Budget includes $22.9 million

ongoing Proposition 98 General Fund to support this program.


Communities Organized to Support Adult School (COSAS) Meeting Notes for 01/30/2017

Responding to New Federal Immigration Policy (Travel Ban, etc.)

Teachers need to teach students how to contact their U.S. congressional representatives by phone in case they are personally affected by the new immigration policies and need help.   Representatives can sometimes intervene on behalf of constituents who are affected by federal policy.  Here is the link for finding congressional representatives by zip code:

While we sometimes teach our adult school students how to write to members of congress and other elected officials to influence policy, we need to also teach them that they can reach out to their representatives when they are affected by federal policies.  Representatives sympathetic to immigrants will want to know when people living in their districts are adversely affected by federal policies, and may be able to offer assistance with individual cases.

(The group came up with this recommendation while discussing a newspaper article about a mother whose son was prevented from entering the U.S. because of the travel ban and wrote to President Trump.  While writing the president is not a bad thing, she might have been able to get more immediate help by contacting her representative.)

Other Ideas for Responding to New Federal Policies

How will federal policies affect older people?  There may be cuts to Social Security , Medicare, and other programs older adults rely on. We need to find ways to keep seniors healthier longer.Education is an important way to do that.

Adult school teachers should make contact with their local mosques in order to find ways to support Muslim students.

The Indivisible Guide, by former congressional staffers, is a resource for getting congress to pay attention to citizen concernts:

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has excellent resources for addressing issues of racism, xenophobia, and bullying,  including many resources for classroom use through its Teaching Tolerance program:

Adult school teachers need to teach students about their rights and about civic engagement.


New Meeting Time for COSAS

COSAS will now meet on the second Monday of every month from 4:00 to 5:00 PM. The next meeting will take place on Monday, February 13.





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,


Kristen Pursley

CC: Senator Nancy Skinner

Assembly Member Tony Thurmond

“Now It’s More Important Than Ever for Us to Learn English”: The Role of Adult Schools in Protecting Immigrant Rights in California

The day after the presidential election I met with my stunned Citizenship class, and together we tried to sort out what had happened.  I explained the electoral college in much more detail than they would need to pass their naturalization interviews, and they told me, and each other, about the harassment and bullying that was already increasing.  As miserable as we all felt, their determination to persevere was inspiring.  Towards the end of the discussion, one of them said, “Now it’s more important than ever for us to learn English.”

I was a bit surprised by this remark; somehow that idea had not occurred to me. But it seemed to be obvious to all of the students.  As I watched them nod in agreement, I realized that it made perfect sense. On one level, they might have been hoping that eventually learning English would help them to be more accepted by U.S. society.  But in a more immediate sense, they needed English so they could be accutely aware of what was going on around them, and to be able to defend themselves if necessary. Now as always, for immigrants, English is power.

As the Donald Trump administration prepares to take office in a few weeks, California is preparing to protect its immigrant population from harsh immigration policies Trump promised to implement while he was campaigning.  Governor Jerry Brown announced this commitment in a speech shortly after the election.

State legislators have prepared a package of bills that would protect immigrant rights, most of which are concerned with making sure immigrants placed in deportation proceedings have access to lawyers.  This is an important measure, as defendants in immigration court, unlike defendants in criminal trials, do not have a right to a public defender if they cannot afford to pay.  Having an attorney can make all the difference between deportation and a more favorable outcome in an immigration case.

Local entities, from cities to school districts to universities and community colleges are also passing resolutions and otherwise preparing to become safe havens for immigrants.

If California is to successfully defend its immigrant population, a healthy adult school system must be part of its protective  infrastructure.  As my student said, immigrants need English more than ever, and adult schools are the largest provider of English as a Second Language  (ESL) classes in the state, serving more ESL students than community college credit and non-credit programs combined.  California will be better able to protect its immigrant population if immigrants are better able to defend themselves.  They need the English Language proficiency, life skills, and civic engagement training they find in adult schools.

Large numbers of immigrants are gathered in adult school programs, particularly ESL programs, so adult schools are a good place to reach them with information they need.  The school where I teach has already had one “Know Your Rights” presentation for our immigrant students, and there will be many more. If the California legislature is able to pass the package of immigrant protection bills that has been proposed, the state will need to get the information out to the immigrant community.  Adult schools will be an excellent place to disseminate the information.

Immigrants have certain protections in adult schools they don’t have in other places, including community colleges.  The Supreme Court decision of Plyler v. Doe, 457 US 202 (1982) prohibits school districts from asking questions about a student’s immigration status or excluding students on the basis of immigration status.California’s adult schools are part of K-12 school districts, so the protection of Plyler extends to adult school students.  By contrast, community colleges can and do ask about a student’s immigration status, and treat immigrants without papers as foreign students.  Immigrants without documents can never attain California resident status, no matter how long they have lived in the state, and have to pay the much higher out-of-state fees. This puts community college beyond the reach of California’s most vulnerable immigrants, those with low incomes and no documentation. The one exception is the Dreamers, young immigrants who won some protections under DACA.  The universities and community colleges will have an important role to play in defending these young people, many of whom are now in their system, especially if President-Elect Trump rescinds DACA after he becomes president.

But the majority of California’s immigrants are not Dreamers, and they need the English, training, and information they can find at their local adult school.  School districts that are passing resolutions now to protect the immigrant children in their systems would do well to remember that the adult parent is the protector of the immigrant child, and make provisions to protect the parents, grandparents and extended families of their immigrant students.  If they have an adult school, including their adult school students in any resolutions and other measures they take to protect children is a good step for them to take. Another thing they can do is recognize the importance of their adult schools and make sure they have adequate resources.

Along with an insecure future for immigrant populations, the approaching Trump presidency may bring economic uncertainty as well.  It is hard to know just what effect a Trump presidency will have on the economy, but there is certainly the potential for another economic crash such as the country saw in 2008, or perhaps worse.  Adult schools in their current precarious financial state are not equipped to withstand another severe economic downturn.  The governor is putting together his 2017-2018 budget now; this is a crucial time for him to increase the amount of funding for adult schools in that budget.

English is power for immigrants; we need to empower them if we are truly going to protect them.

You can write to Governor Brown and request that he increase funding for adult schools in the 2017-2018 budget here:

Mailing address:

Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160

You can also email him from here:








Letter from Concilio Latino to Governor Brown Requesting More Funding for Adult Schools

December 8, 2016

To: Governor Jerry Brown

Cc: Senator Nancy Skinner and Assembly Member Tony Thurmond

From: West County Concilio Latino Network

Concilio Latino is a network for persons and organizations working with the Latino population in West Contra Costa.  Concilio Latino members meet monthly to identify needs, share resource information, and address gaps in services to the Latino community, specifically the needs of the monolingual Spanish-speaking population.

We are requesting that the funding for Adult Education consortia be increased in the 2017-2018 state budget. We particularly request that the portion of the consortium budget that funds Adult schools be increased.

Adult schools in California have not had a funding increase since the year 2008 and in fact their budgets have been slashed between 2008 and 2013.

West Contra Costa County has a large and growing immigrant population and we have seen our adult school services severely reduced rather than expanded. Adult Schools serve a population that is very different from the regular college student and is better able to succeed in the Adult School system. Adult schools have been very important in promoting English proficiency, job training, and citizenship classes in the immigrant community, especially in the Latino immigrant community and therefore we urge you to increase the funding for these important services.  As a result of cuts to adult education, there are not enough English language classes in our community and people are placed on long waiting lists to get into a classes.

California is now preparing to withstand difficult times with a new Trump-presidency and we believe that the most powerful protection for our community is access to education. Adult education classes have been really important in our community as they represent a safe space to access education and information to protect immigrants and their families. If the services continue to be eliminated adults in our community, our families will continue to suffer.



Concilio Latino Co-chairs

Consuelo Lara

Jessica Peregrina

How California’s Adult Schools Could Still Wither Away

Since last year, adult schools  finally have their own dedicated funding through the consortia. Adult schools have stable funding at last, and should be able to get on with the job of providing education for California’s adults. Unfortunately, adult schools are still in jeopardy because their funding is inadequate and the state apparently has no intention of increasing it.

Adult school funding has not so much stabilized as fossilized, and the fossilization took place when adult school funding had been reduced by half during a chaotic period of unrestricted cuts.  In 2008, the Great Recession precipitated a budget crisis in California, and the state legislature, as an emergency measure, removed restrictions on how schools could spend most of their categorical funds, including adult school funds. From 2008 to 2013, adult school funding was in free fall as school districts took their money to save other programs. Some adult schools closed altogether, and the number of adult schools in the state fell 11%.  State spending on adult schools fell from $750 million a year to $350 million, a more than 50% drop.

In 2013, the financial crisis was finally beginning to pass, but the state chose to make the emergency permanent for adult schools.  In that year, the state finally stopped the bleeding for adult schools by instituting a Maintenance of Effort provision for districts that still had adult schools.  Districts had to keep funding their adult schools at the 2012 level, but this was, of course, whatever low level of funding the adult school was receiving after four years of unrestricted cuts. The Maintenance of Effort persisted for two years, after which it was replaced by the consortia in 2015.

Even when the consortia came into being, the state did not raise adult school funding at all.  Only $350 million of consortia funds was dedicated for adult schools, and adult schools were only guaranteed the amount of funding they had under the Maintenance of Effort.  That is how the consortium funds were distributed; according to what schools got the year before. There was no provision for the fact that some adult schools were hit much worse than others.  The fortunate remained fortunate, and the unfortunate (who were often situated in areas of higher need) were left to struggle and scrape by as they had been doing for six years. There was another 1.5 million in consortium funding divided between all the 71 consortia in the state, and this funding could be spent at the discretion of the individual consortia. It could go to adult schools, but there was no requirement that it be spent on them.

Eight years is a very long time to go without any increase in funding at all, especially when an institution is trying to recover from severe cuts and the resulting disastrous losses of instructional time, personnel, and money for resources.  Adult schools are trying to hold the line, but even if they implement the most exacting austerity measures and leverage their resources with every possible lever they can pull, they are eventually going to fall behind. Here’s why:

Adult schools have three basic kinds of staff: teachers, classified staff (clerks, janitors, etc.) and administrators.  Adult school teachers are strictly adult school employees, but classified staff and administrators are district employees.  They can be  transferred or promoted into the adult school from  other positions in K-12, and they may transfer or be promoted out again to other K-12 positions.  Classified union members often  have bumping rights for all positions within the district, including the adult school. Classified  district staff are almost always unionized, and their union contracts are negotiated relative to the school district’s budget, not the adult school’s (much smaller) budget. Yet some of them will be working at the adult school, and the adult school must pay the negotiated wage. That is only fair, but since adult school funding is frozen, the adult school has to cut services in order to pay for every wage increase classified staff win.

School administrators,too, often belong to associations and negotiate their salaries as a group. Again, their salaries are negotiated relative to the budget of the district as a whole, not of the adult school, but some of them will work for the adult school, and, again, every raise or even cost of living increase will impact the adult school’s ability to provide services.

Many adult school teachers belong to unions also, but their wages are not bargained for relative to the budget of the district as a whole; their wages are bargained for relative to the adult school budget.  So their are likely to have to struggle harder for even the smallest raise while their  district argues that the money just isn’t there. Meanwhile, classified staff and administrators at the adult school will see regular raises that have been negotiated relative to the district budget, and their higher salaries will cut into the adult school’s budget and ability to provide services. Indeed, in severe cases, instructional hours may be cut and teachers may lose hours and income to pay for the salary increases of classified staff and administrators.  And, of course, students will lose out too, in the form of less classes, less instructional hours, and less supplies.

When I talk about adult school teachers’ wages, by the way, I do mean wages.  Most adult school teachers are part-time, hourly employees.  Most do not receive health care benefits or paid vacations and holidays, while classified staff and administrators who work at the adult school have the full benefits associated with full-time positions.

Of course, school classified staff and administrators need and deserve their raises. The problem is that the state does not take their raises  into account when they steadfastly refuse to provide adult schools with any more funding.  Legislators and policy makers in Sacramento don’t seem to know much detail about  how adult schools work, so their decisions frequently have unintended consequences.   In this case, the unintended consequence may be that adult schools will eventually sink beneath the burden of salaries negotiated with reference to school district budgets.

Add to this the fact that the cost of materials keeps going up, and that even the most carefully maintained old equipment eventually breaks down completely and needs to be replaced, and you can see that disaster is looming for adult schools sooner rather than later.  It is hard to understand why policymakers in Sacramento don’t see this too.  You simply can’t freeze the funding of an institution permanently and expect that it will not fall further and further behind.

Yet this is apparently what the state plans to do.  According to information that is beginning to come out about the 2017-2018 budget, the governor is planning, for the third year in a row, not to give adult schools any more money that he gave them last year and the year before that.

The excuse legislators give for not giving the consortia more money is that they need to see how the consortia work out.  If they see success, then they will consider more money.  But they are extremely fuzzy about how they define success. There are no timelines and no benchmarks, just a vague indication that the consortia haven’t met their expectations yet, whatever they are.  But the state has asked the consortia to effect sweeping changes that will take time to implement and even more time to show results.  If policymakers really intend to freeze consortium funding until that distant day when they see all the results they want, adult schools simply aren’t going to make it to the finish line.

Sacramento is ignoring the fact that success costs money.  The legislation that created the consortia imposed a lot of new costs, some of which must be born by adult schools. There are demands for additional services and data that have to be paid for somehow.  Governor Brown is famous for keeping a stone in his office for his contemplation. Next time he looks at it, he should remember that you can’t get blood out of one.

And Sacramento should remember that failure costs money, too.  Failure can be expensive, but it is a waste of money, not an investment.  If the state fails to fund the consortia adequately, they will be paying for a disappointment year after year until the whole thing finally runs into the ground. The consortia are trying hard to succeed.  If they fail for lack of adequate support from the state, government officials should blame themselves.

Only the citizens of California can turn this around.  The governor is now in the process of constructing the budget for 2017-2018, and he needs to hear from Californians that adult schools must be more adequately funded.  Please write to Governor Brown and ask him to increase consortium funding  to at least  the 2008 level of $750 million.  It won’t be enough, but it will be a start.  Please contact your state legislators too, and let them know this is important to you.  They will need to approve the governor’s budget by June.

The governor’s budget comes out in mid-January.  It will be revised in May, and the legislature has to approve it in June.

Here is Governor Brown’s address:

Mailing address:

Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160

You can also email him from here:

My thanks to Ken Ryan, an adult school teacher whose insight was the inspiration for this post.








Support California Proposition 55 to Support ALL Schools (Including Adult School)

Proposition 55 extends the Proposition 30 taxes that pulled California’s schools out of a financial crisis.  A report by the California Budget  and Policy Center on how Proposition 30 affected California’s schools is out, and the news is good.  Proposition 30 allowed the state to raise per pupil spending and  reduce student/teacher ratios, and the 1% is paying most of the taxes that fund these improvements.  In case you feel bad for the 1%, they are one of only two groups that experienced an increase in their average income over the past generation.  The other group that experienced an increase? The top 5%! Everyone else experienced a decrease.  It’s all in the report, and you can read it here:

We need to pass Proposition 55 because it is the right thing to do for California’s children.  We can’t go back to the days of wild swings and drastic drops in school funding. The state still doesn’t spend enough on education, and this should be declared a national emergency when you consider how many children live in this most populous of all the 50 states.  But Proposition 30 was a step in the right direction, and Proposition 55 would be another step.

As the report states, Proposition 30 helped the state reinvest in preschools, K-12 schools, and community colleges.  One branch of education that did not receive any direct benefit from Proposition 30 was adult school, and adult schools will not receive any direct benefit from Proposition 55.  Still, passing Proposition 55 is the best thing we could do for adult schools right now.  Adult schools were almost wiped out by the  drastic Great Recession  budget cuts that Proposition 30 was designed to correct.  While adult schools have not been restored to the (quite modest) level of funding they had before the Great Recession, they do now have their own funding source in the Adult Education Block Grant, and they are slowly beginning to crawl out of the abyss that opened up under them in 2008.

A drop in tax revenues for schools could stop the recovery of adult schools in its tracks.  The much weakened adult schools could be finished off for good if the state faces another crisis in education funding.  For children and adult learners alike, we need to pass Proposition 55.

And then we need to ask the state to put more money for adult schools in next year’s budget.