Save adult education

Save adult education

State budget cuts are forcing a reconsideration of educational priorities and changes to the public education model. It is critical in this process to put the needs of students first and avoid decision where a win for some is a loss for others.

The board of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will vote tomorrow to close the district’s adult schools and to eliminate after-school and arts programs among other reductions.

The LAUSD will decide on the proposal to eliminate most adult classes in order to divert the $200 million in state money allocated to this program to address the $550 million deficit for 2012-13. It is estimated that Los Angeles received $165 million this year for adult-education classes and $60 million for its occupational centers, which together serve about 300,000 students.

Superintendent Deasy confirmed that there would still be money available to fund GED and high school diploma classes, which enable high school dropouts to complete their school.

But the same can’t be said for the more than 58,000 parents and adults whose parenting and vocational classes help advance their families. The LAUSD has promoted a holistic vision of providing education for both young people and adults . It is painful to see something that took so long to put into place being dismantled.

A report by the Little Hoover Commission a few weeks ago recommended that the funds directed to LAUSD for adult education should be diverted to community colleges that can add more basic education programs. The problem is that there isn’t room to provide adult education given that the community colleges are refocusing their mission as the bridge between high school and college. A change in the model isn’t the solution.

The School Board’s decision isn’t an easy one. We hope that there is a way to protect adult education. We have always said that educating children and young people is the top priority and it is. At the same time, the LAUSD has recognized that the education of parents is an important factor in the progress of their children. We hope that this belief continues to be valued and that cuts are made without entirely eliminating adult-education programs.