Gov. Jerry Brown’s call to create regional consortia of school districts and community colleges to administer adult education programs starting in 2015-16 is meeting resistance from education leaders in the Assembly.
The plan unveiled in his May revise budget proposal would provide no dedicated funding for adult education until 2015-16, when $500 million would be allocated, including $350 million set aside for existing programs.
“I don’t believe the May Revise addresses the viability of adult education in California,” said Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, chair of the Assembly subcommittee on education. “We need to do that. We need to have dedicated funding for the next two years.” Bonilla added that while discussions between school districts and community colleges on the future of adult education should be encouraged, “there’s no reason to rush to prescribing action in this year’s budget.”
Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-San Ramon, chair of the Assembly Education Committee, said what Brown “is really saying is that we will have the status quo for two more years while districts and community colleges figure out what to do.” However, this approach is better than Brown’s original budget proposal, which shifted responsibility for all adult ed to community colleges, she said. But neither school districts, which focus on K-12 students, nor community colleges, which teach higher-level skills, have adult education students as part of their mandate unless there is dedicated funding for the programs, she said. “I think adult education advocates should worried.”
Adult education programs offer English as a Second Language, basic reading and math, high school diploma and GED, and career-technical courses. Before 2009, the state provided dedicated funding for these programs. When state funding for schools was cut in 2009 because of the recession, districts were allowed to use adult ed funds for any educational purpose, eroding or ending adult schools throughout California.