Campuses may have to take the lead
California’s community colleges have been tapped to play a key role in the revival of adult education when a promised influx of $500 million in state funding starts in 2015.
That supporting role may be diminished, however, by the absence of faculty – and K-12 teachers – in the current two-year planning process.
The work group selected under AB 86 to allocate $25 million over the next two years for local planning and implementation grants is comprised solely of staff from the Chancellor’s Office, the California Department of Education, and K-14 administrators.
Not one teacher
“There’s not one teacher,” said CCA President Lynette Nyaggah, who attended a March meeting with Hank Mollett, chair of CTA’s Adult, Alternative and Career Technical Education Committee. “We made the point that if teachers and faculty are not part of the process, it won’t work.”
Hopefully, objections made by Nyaggah, CTA and other faculty organizations will be taken into account before the planning process gets too far. Right now, the work group is charged with providing the grants to community colleges to begin working with their local K-12 districts in streamlining services and developing regional consortia to oversee programs.
Adult education, which includes GED classes, citizenship, English as a Second Language, short-term vocational classes and programs for disabled adults has largely been run by the state’s K-12 districts in recent years. However, during the state’s budget crisis, districts began cutting adult education to save K-12 education, drastically impairing adult education offerings.
IVC is bright spot
Mollett maintains that if AB 86 isn’t able to bring the community colleges and K-12 districts together, then CTA/CCA members must take the lead and do it themselves.
One bright spot on the horizon is the consortium in Imperial County, which has received a planning grant of $233,034 and where CCA member Dr. Martha Garcia, a program coordinator at Imperial Valley College, is spearheading the effort.
Representing the college, Garcia has begun meeting with representatives from six of the county’s seven high school districts to discuss aligning adult education programs to fit the needs of students.
“For us, having the needs we have, we know we have to work well with each other,” Garcia said.
Located in the center of a geographically large county, Imperial Valley College (IVC) will be able to provide some adult education programs, but the high school districts may be best able to reach students in the outlying areas. Residents in the northern area of the county for example, are in need of adult education classes but may not be able to take a 1½ hour bus ride to the college. Particularly needed throughout the county are English as a Second Language and GED prep courses.
“IVC will be the fiscal agent. We’ll track students and make sure there is accountability,” Garcia said. “I’m very optimistic that we’ll bring some equality to adult education program offerings and it will be better than what we have now.”