"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The struggle to save LAUSD's adult education program

Update: The Save Adult Education Website has petition blanks, phone numbers to contact individual Board Members, contacts for letter writing campaigns, and so much more!

In the case that you can't sign a paper petition (which are preferable), there's also an online petition.

SaveAdultEd.org also has a facebook page and a twitter feed. Whatever support you want to lend, do it quickly. The Board is set to vote on the zeroed out budget on Tuesday, February 14, 2012. While it's almost unfathomable that Mayor Villaraigosa's majority of aligned Board Members would vote on something that would be particularly devastating to the poor and immigrant communities, that's what they will do unless enormous political pressure is brought to bear on them.

Also see Echo Park Businesses Support LAUSD Adult Education for examples of ever widening community support for LAUSD Adult Education.



"I'm an adult ed teacher, and I just want to say thanks to those of you outside of adult ed who understand the importance of what we do, and are willing to stand with us as we fight to survive this year. When I go back to work tomorrow morning and greet my class full of ADULTS studying basic math, GED prep, and high school subjects, I will feel better knowing that you who work in K-12 understand the importance of what we do for families and communities. Parents who can't read or do arithmetic can't help their kids learn." — Michelle Cohen

Join the struggle to save LAUSD's adult education programsFrom regular high school students in need of credit recovery, to students working to obtain their diplomas after life circumstance altered their ability to obtain it in four years, to English Language Learners, to immigrants working on their citizenship, to students wanting access to career programs now that community college tuitions have skyrocketed, Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) Adult Education programs represent a literal lifeline for tens of thousands of Angelenos and their families.

After years of devastating annual cuts, LAUSD announced the possibility of eliminating adult education altogether. This would shatter the lives and opportunities of thousands of students enrolled in these programs. It would be particularly devastating to the poor and immigrant communities, many of whom rely on LAUSD adult education. Given that California's economy is the eighth largest economy in the world, it's unconscionable that continual cuts now threaten programs like adult education. Instead of cuts, we need to demand tax justice. According to the California Budget Project, the bottom fifth of California income earners pay 11.7%, while the top one percent only pay 7.1%. Just raising the rate of the top to equal that of the bottom would make this discussion moot, and taxing the upper quintile at a fair rate wold eliminate all budget issues in California.

The following is from the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA) newsletter in response to the proposed closure of the program.

AALA has been informed that LAUSD leadership is seeking Board approval to close the District's Division of Adult and Career Education (DACE) programs next year and redirect tens of millions of dollars in funding to offset General Fund shortfalls. Can the District afford to prevent high school students from participating in adult education classes to earn credit for graduation? Can the District afford to eliminate educational opportunities for thousands of parents and community members who depend upon adult education to learn English and earn American citizenship? Can the District afford to cut high-quality apprenticeship programs that lead to decent jobs?

We believe that such an ill-conceived plan should be scrapped to avert a political and educational debacle. The District needs to recognize that DACE programs, in fact, do not encroach on the General Fund. While providing critically needed basic education and career training for the community at large, Adult and Career Education pays its own way through both direct and indirect assessments levied by the District against their severely limited resources. Additionally, the District sweeps every dollar left in Adult and Career Education accounts at the end of each year.

DACE administrators carefully manage their programs including the successful AEWC dropout recovery program and labor union-supported apprenticeship programs and have a long history of successes on a shoestring, including:

  • More than 10% of last year's high school dropouts were enrolled in Adult and Career Education courses on norm day 2011, thus reducing the District's 2010-2011 dropout rate by 10%. The previous year's reduction was also 10%, and nearly 9% the year before that. Clearly, LAUSD's dropout rate would increase dramatically if DACE programs were not available to these students.
  • Approximately 1,500 former dropouts were graduated from DACE programs in 2010-2011. These graduates were reported in ISIS, further reducing the District's dropout rate.
  • In 2010-2011, 88,200 high school students took Adult and Career Education courses to make up credits and keep up with their cohorts. Reducing accessibility for these students would simply transfer educational costs to the General Fund at a higher per-capita cost.
  • In 2010-2011, 51,844 high school students took courses at occupational centers and in ROP. Reducing accessibility to these programs would cause students to be transferred back to their home schools and would increase costs to the General Fund, again at a higher per-capita cost.
  • In 2010-2011, 58,147 parents took DACE courses.
  • AALA fully understands LAUSD's budget problems. We strongly believe, however, that the District cannot afford to shut down the District's Adult and Career Education programs. Doing so would have the unintended consequence of increasing General Fund costs, increasing dropout rates and eliminating valuable educational services to tens of thousands of needy parents and community members District-wide.

Activists are currently organizing to rally behind the call to save LAUSD Adult Education. Let it be understood that the very same neoliberal forces at play in Los Angeles are everywhere, and we must continue to organize or see all of our public institutions eliminated or privatized.

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