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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Who Is Ahead and Who Is Behind? Gaps in School Readiness and Student Achievement in the Early Grades for California's Children
Personal Image and Bad Girls
We are continuing the discussion about image, a construct created and presented to influence other's opinion of a brand. Image is not to be confused with brand. A brand could have a positive or a negative image. Actually, personal image is one component of personal brand. Marketing is another part.
Image has inner and outer manifestations. Self image is one's own generated picture of the self heavily influenced by self-esteem, temperament and personal interpretation of life experiences. This subject alone fills volumes. If you want to digress here, Google, "self-esteem"; "self-image"; "psychology"; "personality";. I promise to return to self-image in a wee bit. We will think about "projected image" first.
Projected image is the way we want others to see the self. We do things to influence others to think positively of us. Using intelligence about what the public we want to influence considers attractive, we create an image–a package–that public will be drawn to.
We tweak obsessively to keep that unique image fresh and well-managed.
Image is the delta where the several streams come together. It is a unified statement in personal physical presentation and everything else–all the media used to represent the seeker. The object of "imaging" is to elicit a certain response. The handiest example of the language of image is in videos usually intended for young people.
Take for example, our girl, Maleficent on the left above. She is tall, thin and green-skinned; draped in black. This Disney "bad girl" presses all the "hate her guts" buttons. In building witches or any female antagonist, Disney patches directly into the historical cultural ambivalence in the United States about powerful (older) women. All of Disney's "bad girls" are not thin, but they do all tend to be mature and have magic powers. Black means age, power and death.
Allow me to show another well-known image: the Wicked Witch of the West. She too has a green face and a fondness for wearing black. Created to be hated. It used to be that a female job seeker was advised against wearing black to an interview. Black. It speaks of having great power beyond the realm of the understood. Navy blue is stong but not as severe/threatening.
As human beings, we all have to deal with the original factory issue package we were born with and how it changes over a lifetime. Again there is an entire body of literature dealing with how human variables like age, height and skin color influence acceptance or non acceptance of a seeker's product. All the brouhaha about interview dressing comes down to this: we change to our advantage what we can; we downplay what we cannot.
TENURE PLAIN AND SIMPLE
By: Melissa Tomlinson & Marla Kilfoyle
Imagine you are charged with the job of making the decisions that concern the life of a child, including the protection of that child. If you are a parent, this is no stretch of the imagination.
Now imagine that you are prevented from doing this. You are afraid to speak up and have opinions for fear of personal recriminations that could affect yourself or other family members. Consequences could include temporary loss of income, loss of a job, even loss of a career. You become silenced, effectively opening the door to the possibility of harmful decisions to be made regarding children that are in your charge.
As a parent, you have power. You have legal guardianship rights over the lives of your children until they turn 18. For a large portion of that time a child attends school. While that child is in school it is in the best interest of all children that adults involved can advocate for the child. When you deny tenure rights of teachers you are silencing that advocate.
We are 2 teachers and we are 2 mothers. Melissa has 2 boys and Marla has 1 boy. As teachers we understand the importance of teacher tenure, which for the remainder of this article we will call due process. First of all, a teacher's right to due process does NOT guarantee them a job for life. For example, in New York State any tenured teacher can be dismissed under 3020a law.
Here are some scenarios in which teachers would need due process to protect children.
Mrs. Smith goes to a meeting for Johnny, a special education student that she has taught all year. She knows that Johnny needs to have speech therapy and plans to recommend that he receive it as soon as possible. Before the meeting Mrs. Smith is told via email that she is NOT to recommend speech therapy for any more children because the district does NOT want to pay for the services.
Mrs. Smith with NO due process rights – goes to the meeting and doesn't say a word in advocacy for Johnny because she is a afraid to lose her job and/or goes to the meeting and advocates for him and is fired by the district directly after the meeting is over.
Mrs. Smith with due process rights – goes to the meeting and can ignore the district directive and recommend speech therapy because that is what Johnny needs. The district cannot fire her for ignoring this harmful directive without a due process hearing.
Mr. Jones suspects that one of his students is being beat up at home. The student in question, Mark, comes to school with a black eye. Mr. Jones tells his department chair that he is calling Child Protective Services on the parents. Mr. Jones gets an email from the district telling him to NOT call CPS because they don't want the bad publicity.
Mr. Jones with NO due process rights – does NOT call CPS because he is the sole breadwinner in his house and cannot lose his job and/ or he calls CPS and is fired at the end of the week.
Mr. Jones with due process rights – calls CPS, ignoring the district directive not to, and cannot be fired without a due process hearing.
Mrs. Davis is an award winning English teacher. She has enjoyed teaching an amazing unit on To Kill A Mockingbird for her entire 15 year career. In this unit she can teach children about social justice and equality. In Mrs. Davis class is the new president of the Board of Education's daughter. When Mrs. Davis starts her To Kill a Mockingbird unit the BOE President calls her up and expresses concern that the book has rape in it. Mrs. Davis explains to the BOE President that her focus on the book isn't rape but social injustice. The next day Mrs. Davis is called into her directors office and told she cannot teach the book.
Mrs. Davis with NO due process rights does NOT teach the book in fear of losing her job. She is the sole provider for her mother and herself and/or Mrs. Davis teaches the book against the advice of her director and is fired at the end of the year
Mrs. Davis with due process rights explains respectfully to her director that she will teach the book as she has done so successfully for 15 years. She further states that she will be attending the BOE meeting to make a statement that the BOE President is attempting to censor reading lists in the district for children. She cannot be fired without a due process hearing.
Mr. Bryant has been a math teacher at XYZ High School for 25 years. He is loved by his students and parents in the community. He has been active in school and advises the award winning Math Club. During Mr. Bryant's 25th year as a teacher the district hired a new Superintendent of Schools. This Superintendent sought to trim the budget and decided to cut several clubs, including Mr. Bryant's award winning Math Club. Mr. Bryant made an appointment with the new Superintendent to plead their case. The meeting did not go well so Mr. Bryant rallied the community to raise money to keep the club. This angered the new Superintendent who
Mr. Bryant with NO due process is fired immediately and the new Superintendents nephew, a new math teacher, is hired to take his place.
Mr. Bryant with due process is called up to the Superintendent's office and given a hearing prior to an attempt to fire him.
The above scenarios are only a few that we can provide to you. We could write a book but we hope that you get the overall simple reason why teachers need due process rights. Many people argue that no other job gets due process rights, and in many cases they are correct, but NO other occupation deals with the complexity of teaching children and making sure that the environment that they learn in is free of cronyism, favoritism, safe, and free from personal bias. A teacher's right to due process provides a stable, safe, and productive environment for children to learn and thrive. It gives teachers the ability to advocate freely for children in their care without fear of losing their jobs.
Marla Kilfoyle is General Manager Badass Teachers Association and Melissa Tomlinson is the Assistant General Manager of the Badass Teachers Association.
Marla Kilfoyle began her adventure into the Badass Teacher Association by way of being a parent advocate on Long Island in such groups as Parents and Teachers Against Common Core and LI Opt-Out. Marla has been a teacher in the Social Studies Department at Oceanside High School (NY) for 27 years. In addition, Marla coached the Oceanside Girl's Track and Field team for 15 years and runs her district's social science program.
Marla is the mother of a 10-year-old son and wife of Allen, a retired NYPD Detective. She continues her work as a parent advocate in LI Opt-Out as a member of their leadership team.
Melissa Tomlinson: A teacher of students with special needs at the middle school level, realized that she was not alone in questioning the role of standardized testing in schools when she found the Badass Teachers Association. She was first pushed into the spotlight of fighting the methods of corporate educational reform when she faced Governor Chris Christie to ask about his public degradation of NJ Schools when they were rated one of the top three in the nation. Along with teaching and advocacy, Melissa runs the after school program in her school building, providing a place for students to receive extra educational assistance, exposure to career possibilities, and a safe place to be after school hours.
Melissa is the mother of two teenage sons and she fights for equitable education for all students, now and in the future.
WALL STREET IS TAKING OVER AMERICA'S PENSION PLANS
Coverage of the midterm elections has, understandably, focused on the shift in political power from Democrats toward Republicans. But behind the scenes, another major story has been playing out. Wall Street spent upwards of $300M to influence the election results. And a key part of its agenda has been a plan to move more and more of the $3 trillion dollars in unguarded government pension funds into privately managed, high-fee investments — a shift that may well constitute the biggest financial story of our generation that you've never heard of.
Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island all recently elected governors who were previously executives and directors at firms which managed investments on behalf of state pension funds. These firms are now, consequently, in position to obtain even more of these public funds. This alone represents a huge payoff on that $300M investment made by the financial industry, and is likely to result in more pension money going into investments which offer great benefits for Wall Street but do little for the broader economy.
But Wall Street's agenda goes beyond any one election cycle. It has been fighting to turn public pensions into private profits for quite some time, steering retirement nest eggs into investments that are complex, charge hefty fees, and that generate big profits for management firms. And it has been succeeding. Of the $3 trillion in public assets currently in pension funds throughout the country, almost a quarter of that has already found its way into so-called "alternative investments" like hedge funds, private equity and real estate. That translates to roughly $660 billion of public money now under private management, invested in assets that are often arcane and opaque but that offer high management and placement fees to Wall Street financiers.
Our recent financial crisis demonstrated just how risky and potentially destructive these types of assets can be — so the question becomes, why is so much money going into them?
David Sirota has been one of the few journalists to cover this story in depth, and to expose the widespread political corruption that's gone along with it. "It's one of the biggest economic stories in the world because the amounts of money are so huge" says Sirota. "It is happening in every state and every city in the country."
In 2011 the Wall Street Journal reported that the Blackstone Group — one of the largest private equity firms in the world, with an investment pool of $111 billion dollars — saw "about $37 of every $100" of its funds come from investments from state and local pension plans. That's a huge sum, and it's therefore unsurprising that Blackstone lobbies state governments to help steer more pension money its way.
In many cases, the decision to invest state pension money in alternative investments of questionable value seems to have been driven less by concern for the welfare of future pensioners (gasp!) than by political considerations and the concerted efforts of financial industry lobbyists. The simple fact is that these investments are not very good. While they offer lucrative fees for Wall Street middlemen, they have been shown to often significantly underperform against the market.
You'd think that, given the importance of keeping American citizens pensions safe and prosperous, the political representatives overseeing them would hew to safe and stable investments. Unfortunately, however, that presumption would be wrong.
A document obtained by Sirota and published at his previous employer, Pando Daily, reveals that the contract language for a Blackstone hedge fund invested in by the Kentucky pension system contains language such as: "the possibility of partial or total loss of capital will exist" , "there can be no assurance that any (investor) will receive any distribution"; and "the [fund] should only be considered by persons who can afford a loss of their entire investment." That certainly sounds safe and conservative.
Despite the above warnings, over $80 million of Kentucky pension money went into this and another opaque Blackstone fund. And again, all this was been with almost no public knowledge or debate.
If all this wasn't egregious enough, a huge preponderance of evidence suggests that this massive transfer of wealth from public to private management is having a corrupting effect on the political process. Sirota's reporting seems to have particularly touched a nerve with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has described Sirota as "a hack" and "not a journalist". It's not difficult to see why Christie isn't a fan. Earlier this year, Sirota wrote that…
43 financial firms managing New Jersey pension money have spent a total of $11.6 million on contributions to New Jersey politicians…
Many of those donations have gone directly to Gov. Christie's election campaign … Additionally, many of the contributions came either just before or just after the Christie administration awarded the firms multi-million-dollar pension management contracts.
Those 43 firms ended up managing around $14 billion dollars of state pension money, a take that serves as a timeless reminder of the great rewards that can derive from catering to the needs of receptive politicians.
Christie's tenure as New Jersey governor has been particularly emblematic of the extent of Wall Street's reach into the public sphere. Among other things, he installed a private equity investor as the state's pension overseer and publicly lied about the manner in which pension fund investment decisions are made. Ironically enough, he's defended these practices in his own state while criticizing Democrats for utilizing them through his position as chair of the Republican Governor's Association.
The flow of public money into Wall Street coffers has greater ramifications than simply putting pension funds at risk and corrupting our political system. It also fundamentally alters the future shape of American society by changing how public funds will get spent. Consider what might happen if pension money were steered into the communities where pension beneficiaries live. Michael McCarthy, an assistant professor of sociology at Marquette University, has highlighted how the Quebec government's pension investment fund boosts the regional economy:
The fund invests in small and medium enterprises that operate within the province. According to their calculations, by 2012, the Solidarity Fund's investments created 86,624 new jobs and kept 81,993 more from moving overseas.
Pension funds could play a similar role in America, but they don't. Instead, U.S. pension funds mimic Wall Street investment practices.
Simply put, outsourcing investment decisions to Wall Street instead of giving them to accountable public servants adversely affects where pension investment money goes. When the money is not managed publicly there is no incentive to invest in local infrastructure, and there is nothing to dissuade investors from putting public money into investments that harm the local community, for example by outsourcing local jobs abroad.
"There is a massive transfer of power and wealth happening from the public to Wall Street, through pensions," says a former Congressional staffer, who asked to remain anonymous because he has ties to the industry."The more that money goes into private hands as opposed to public hands, the less that it gets invested into projects which are socially constructive."
"It's a policy justified entirely on people's ignorance of what's going on."
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Common Core's days look numbered
After more than four years of preparation and millions of dollars spent to train thousands of Tennessee's teachers, it seems likely that the Common Core standards are headed for the trash bin, or perhaps the recycle bin.
Beginning with an agreement to delay implementation of Common Core-aligned testing during the last legislative session, Gov. Bill Haslam has been fighting to salvage the state's investment, and its commitment to higher student achievement, but those efforts may not be sufficient.
In October the governor responded to the increasing opposition by launching a comprehensive review and vetting of the standards that he hoped would focus on the specifics of the standards versus the politics of them. He appointed two committees of educators and administrators to review the findings of six advisory panels, also comprised of Tennessee teachers and administrators.
All Tennesseans have been invited to submit their choices and comments through a website that allows folks to review and comment on each individual math and English language arts standard. More than 15,500 people commented in the website's first 10 days.
Giving every Tennessean the chance to weigh in on the process, with their input reviewed by 58 folks who teach our children, just may be too inclusive to salve the political needs of legislators.
Setting aside the nearly 20 years of development that the Common Core standards went through, Tennessee's political leadership, like Indiana and North Carolina before them, apparently thinks our students are different from other American students. Special, they seem to think, in every sense of the word.
While the governor leads a standards review, three legislative leaders have introduced bills that would require the state to toss Common Core and devise standards of our own.
Senators Mike Bell, R-Riceville, and Delores Gresham, R-Somerville, filed a bill, modeled after one the North Carolina legislature passed this year, which would establish a Tennessee Standards Commission of nine members, three members apiece to be appointed by the speakers of the House and Senate and the governor, who would be responsible for recommending new educational standards.
The two senators are allies of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, who held off a Senate vote on legislation that would have abandoned the standards in April after the governor agreed to postpone testing for a year. But opposition to the standards has intensified since the session ended.
School teachers, who were largely in favor of the higher standards, solidly turned against Common Core over the summer, according to several polls, as did voters. The more coverage and conversation about Common Core, the more opposed people said they were.
Ramsey applauded the Senate bill.
"For Tennessee to remain economically competitive in the years ahead, it is crucial for our state to establish high Tennessee standards rooted in Tennessee values," Ramsey told the Tennessean. "We are a unique and exceptional state. We need to make sure our standards are equally unique and exceptional."
Bell said that his bill comes from what his constituents told him, that Common Core must go.
Rep. John Forgety, R-Athens, who was the McMinn County director of schools for 16 years before being elected to the legislature, filed a bill that would also dump Common Core, but his legislation would require the state Board of Education to create new standards.
"These bills are conversation starters," Bell said. "As you know, what we get will be different."
Very true, the legislative process is a messy one.
One outcome could be that after all the wrangling we end up with new Tennessee standards that look a lot like the ones that so many hate so now.
That would be embarrassing.
Reach Frank Daniels III at 615-881-7039 or on Twitter @fdanielsiii.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
POETS PROTEST FOR ETHNIC STUDIES AT LAUSD CURRICULUM
ASST. CAMPUS LIFE EDITOR
Whittier College's Students for Education Reform (SFER) joined the hundreds of student advocates, educators and the Los Angeles community in rallying support of the highly anticipated approval of Ethnic Studies as a graduation requirement for high school students within to the Los Angeles Unified School district. Rally participants chanted in unison outside of the The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) headquarters as the education board casted their vote on the issue. As a response to the 2010 Arizona state law that banned Mexican-American studies classes thought to express ethnic solidarity, the LAUSD board members voted 6-1 in favor of the implementation of Ethnic Studies as a graduation requirement for the 124 high school campuses in the district.
Whittier College's SFER organization has taken a leadership position as partners of the Ethnic Studies Now Coalition in developing strategies to mobilize youth participation through social media and educational workshops and promoting other Education reforms such as funding for underserved school district.
The LAUSD school board's resolution now makes LAUSD the second district in the state, apart from El Rancho Unified in Pico Rivera, to require Ethnic Studies as a requirement for graduation that will not take effect until the 2019 school year. District officials note that this new education reform has yet to shove the effects of costs and the efficiency of restructuring schedules.
The announcement of this unanimous decision was made publically by leader of the rally and board member of El Rancho Unified School District in Pico Rivera Jose Luis Barrios and was followed shortly after by a press conference.
"Due to all your organizing and hard work, the voice of the students and the voice of the community was heard today.," Lara said. "We are getting Ethnic Studies in. Today we have made History!"
Upon the declaration, Whittier College students joined the crowd in chanting "Si se pudo, Si se pudo!" The student demonstrators proudly held up their posters and banners representing organizations such as Union para el Barrio, National La Raza Unida Party, MEChA of UCLA and SFER of Whittier College. " Student groups Students for Education Reform which includes Whittier and MEChA de UCLA, attended the rally as part of the Ethnic Studies Now Coalition, which consists of students, teachers, community-based organizations and 70 elected officials," Lara said.
Sophomore Maxwell Hoversten talked about the positive impacts that Ethnic studies have on students. "I feel that this issue is often glossed over, and does not get the attention it deserves," Hoversten said. "Students feel empowered, they gain a better understanding of themselves, their family and culture. Also, studies have shown that Ethnic Studies leads to better school performance in school setting so it's definitely a good thing all around."
Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Professor Michelle Chihara, who also teaches Chicano Literature, also addresses the significance of Ethnic studies. "Ethnic Studies are obviously relevant to students' lives in a district like Los Angeles, but also, Ethnic Studies classes are important in high school because the questions that Ethnic Studies classes tend to raise cut questions across many disciplines and current debates," Chihara said. "They're not just relevant, they're rigorous and exciting."
First year-participant shares what motivated him to attending this event. "To me an Ethnic study is important because it studies the contributions that people have contributed to creating cultures and how that interaction plays an important role in shaping history and society." Tessman said.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish and Latino Studies Sonia V. González, shares the long-term impacts and some of the implications that this new reform will have on not only in LA county district but for higher education as well.
"LAUSD has a diverse student body and it is therefore important for students to see the experiences of others and to see that others share the same dreams and struggles," Gonzalez said. "It would also allow students to become better citizens in the future and decrease the ignorance against ethnic groups."
Senior Cervon Rogers talks about some of the implications that have arised from the lack of Ethnic studies and how by enforcing of this program, there will be an overall greater impact for students of color. "The LA Unified School has 90 percent and growing population of students of color, and only a small percent of high schools offer any students Ethnic studies," Rogers said. "We get in turn an alarming high rate of high school dropouts and a society that reinforces generalizations and negative stereotypes. With teaching literature itself many students are unattached to the subject matter because it is references the European man who contributed to society, but what about history developed much before that, with the indigenous and the African people? With the addition of Ethnic Studies courses students will no longer be subjectified to being the minority as they will have a greater self identification, self-confidence and ability to tackle the world."
Chihara shares her approval of Whittier College student participation toward pertinent issues.
"LAUSD is such a huge bureaucracy; it takes a long time to get change, so I'm glad that Whittier College students are adding their voices to this important issue," Chihara said. "I'm always glad to see my students taking initiative and speaking out on political issues they care about."
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Just Make It Stop
There is hardly a day that goes by in which I do not, as a public school parent, wish fervently for all this toil and tribulation surrounding our beleaguered public education just to end.
Toil: as an engaged parent and practically professional volunteer the demand for un-remunerated labor simply never ends.
Yet all the same and perhaps ironically, it is not this toil that brings one to one's knees. The truth is simply that: it is a privilege to work for the common good. Even for free.
The same cannot be said for the all-out cataclysmic assault waged by the reigning class of the better-off on all the rest of all the others of us. Exploiting the compulsion of altruism, the concerted effort of the moneyed class to flip the commons into a private ghetto of profit and patronage just never, ever ends. Hence, the
Tribulation. I fret and worry and gnash my teeth every day at how the wealthy educationeers, the privatizers and ideologues wrap a yarn around my children's educational experience, condescending to impose conditions they would never for an instant countenance upon their own children. Massive class sizes (approaching 50, which is never reflected anywhere in reported or regulated averages), and teensy, tinsy budgets and decrepit surroundings and a grim educational grind of homework out the yin-yang and tests out the wazoo with nary an enriching field trip in sight. Harassed teachers and incompetent or corrupt administration and untold harm being meted upon the heads of our young, however inadvertently or collaterally.
This is the daily grind that inspires the following to float through my consciousness, words in my anguish I sometimes liken in hyperbole to testimony from an Amnesty International radio broadcast of the '80′s: "you have only to say the words to make it all stop, it's easy… say it now – why do you resist". But I won't do it, I won't sign the checks or whisper the blarney to an admissions gatekeeper: "Your school is the perfect match for my child; the fit is unerring and the cost immaterial – deliver my child to a secure future; we are yours to direct".
I won't do this because it is anti-democratic, it is untrue and it is the action of the conquered.
Make no mistake about it, the neglect and corruption that grows so wearisome is an incessant, insidious assault on the lower classes (you, me and our neighbors), to coerce flight from our basic human right for an expansive education and free association.
Because in giving up on these schools as places where education should be, can be and in large measure is offered, if not adequately assimilated, we are condoning the conflation of poverty and scarcity and social hardship into a single, solitary surrogate misnomer, blazoned 'educational failure'. This ignominious list is the instrument of a private, monied class that would starve us from our public institutions atrophied by neglect, and into unregulated and opaque, essentially private "schools of choice" created by themselves to benefit themselves. The end game is one of isolation and segregation.
To vilify these institutions rather than rectify them is to encourage a sort of social cannibalism. Rather than honor our own society and industry we turn in on and destroy it. We are our own teachers, we the people who constitute our civil servants, our own societies' middle management made up of us – we constructed our own institutions of public learning and we should see to it that their promise is affected. Allowing these to be drained of value by a private class who opt not to partake of it and would instead benefit from its demise is the very worst form of self-hatred: self-destruction.
This new reign of educational order involves a revolution in instructional material, all to be paid into the new coffers of the new rulers. There are no text books, only reams of untested "worksheets" that clutter up our children's lives and psyche. Cynically imposing pedagogically random problems and systems onto our kids, freighting them with widespread anxiety and unmitigatable stress from problems unsolvable, is a new form of rather old torture.
The way to make it stop is to go elsewhere, to flee the public schools to private ones where class sizes are small enough that children receive individualized attention from teachers and academics are supported with amenities and homework is (arguably) more smart and constrained.
Alternatively we can make it stop by retaining public funds for public schools and insist that these be adequate to the task of supporting people sufficiently to teach our children well, in comfortable surroundings comparable to that of the ideologues motivated to appropriate public monies.
Services needed should be services rendered: special education, arts education, physical education, honors education, ethnic education – these are niceties neglected in service of profit that our public schools must never relinquish because we must not relinquish these for our children. This is the education our children deserve and we should – fatigue notwithstanding – none of us stop while any of us are denied it.
The Rise and Fall of Adult Education in California
A Greek Tragedy is said to depict woeful endings to proud beginnings. Once upon a time community adult schools in Los Angeles stood at the top as a provider of education to the local communities.
The heyday of LA's adult schools arguably began, some say, in 1988 with the Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986, or Amnesty program, which dedicated $1.7 billion to California, $354 million going for English and citizenship education. The plan was to legitimize immigration status for non-documented immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 1982. Seventy percent of those who matched amnesty eligibility criteria lived in greater Los Angeles, according to the California Department of Education. Forty hours of instruction per student satisfied the requirement for English proficiency and understanding of U.S. history and system of governance.
LAUSD's Division of Adult and Career Education became an overnight sensation, quite literally. For nearly the next five years there was no shortage of classes or people to fill them. Some schools held classes around the clock all week, even at 2 or 5 a.m. and on Sundays.
Nor was there any shortage of teachers. A bachelor's degree with 20 units of English or social studies qualified for a credential.
Once Amnesty "faded away," a parlance commonly used, adult schools remained relevant in the service of literacy and life and job skills to communities. The cash that fueled the engine was ADA—average daily attendance. The more students in a class each day formatted the state appropriation for the next year.
"We'd have them [students] sitting on the floor or doorway or in the hall or even standing," stated a teacher who asked that her name not be used since she is still employed with the school district. "Body counts generated revenue so why mess with it?" she explained, facetiously. "A good thing the fire marshal didn't come around."
The lingering recession caught up with adult schools in 2012. The California state legislature changed its way of funding adult education. LAUSD henceforth had discretion to use adult education funds as it saw fit. This change had already knocked out adult schools in Oakland and Alhambra.
But community activism in LA motivated then-LAUSD superintendent John Deasy, on record to abolish adult education, to acquiesce to continuing an adult school program.
This good news was tempered with bad, however. LAUSD's former allocation for adult education of 7 percent, or $210 million, became less than one-half of 1 percent of the school budget, or about $34 million, pocket change compared to LAUSD's total $6.64 billion budget. This meant that many students did not have literacy or career education classes for them, and those that did, faced long waiting lists.
Clearly, this was not welcome news for teachers or support staff either. The former corps of 3,000 teachers was pared to 600. Teachers called back after a two-month layoff were assigned part time or split shifts, or sent to school sites requiring long commutes.
Jay Wehbe, a teacher of solar energy at Abraham Friedman Occupation Center, found a creative solution to the split shift conundrum. For six hours a day, between morning and night classes, his car in the parking lot has been his office and place to catnap. Wehbe, a product of adult education, began as an adult ESL student and worked his way up to a degree in electrical engineering. He runs his own contracting service in addition to teaching. "The government invested in my education [which] has turned me into a tax paying citizen at a higher tax bracket," he said, alluding to budget cuts. "Their investment in students is well worth it."
Wehbe's hope for a brighter future for adult education in Los Angeles might be rekindled by AB 86, a California state assembly bill that directs local school districts and community college districts, which over the years have ventured into traditional adult school domain with non-credit and career education courses, to join forces. The reward is millions of dollars in state revenue.
"I'm optimistic," claims Matthew Kogan, an ESL teacher at Evans Adult School who also chairs the California Teacher Association's subcommittee on adult education. "A step in the right direction."
Marc Wutsche, an academic teacher, is more cautious. "It will take a lot of work to iron out differences," he says.
Wutsche and Robert Sucher, a literacy teacher at Freidman, express a common concern about the feasibility of a community college and adult school partnership. "Community colleges emphasis is on academics, but we [adult schools] are about literacy," says Sucher.
Who will ultimately oversee adult education is another concern. In San Diego and San Francisco it is the community college districts.
However, says Wutsche, "Adult schools are more a part of the community they serve."