Tomorrow the Los Angeles Unified School District Board may vote in favor of a budget cut that could result in thousands of children being deprived of the support they need to succeed in school. As permitted by California state law, the board is set to vote Tuesday on a proposal to cut most of the $200 million in state money earmarked for adult education in order to address the district’s $557 million deficit.
As I noted last December, school districts all over California have been shifting dollars away from adult education to shore up K-12 budgets for the last several years because of a provision in the California Budget Act (CBA) which allows school districts to do this when budgets are tight. Los Angeles is the highest profile example to date.
The choice here is not about decimating the adult education system in Los Angeles so that the status quo in K-12 education can be preserved. It’s about choosing a course of action that would be disastrous for many K-12 students as well. As noted in this article on the impact of the cut on one particular adult community school in the district, the loss of adult education impacts not just the adults but the educational success of the children of those adults who are parents or caregivers.
Administrators and faculty at South Gate Community Adult School believe that cutting adult education will affect students at the K-12 campuses, and especially in areas with a high immigrant population. In those communities, parents are learning skills at the adult schools that allow them to help their children academically.
“This morning, we had role play, where a parent was at a conference with their child’s math teacher,” said John Liddle, teacher of English as a second language at South Gate Community Adult School. Using such situations to learn English interest immigrant parents, who want to understand their children’s school experience in the United States. “We use topics that are of high interest to [adult] students, such as health, jobs and parenting,” he said.
Dario Aleman, 41, was a medical doctor in Cuba before arriving in the United States in May 2010. Learning English is very important to him since he hopes to become fluent and renew his medical license. However, the adult classes also help him as a parent, since he can better prepare and help his 6-year-old son.
“If you prepare adults, the adults will then prepare their children,” said Aleman, who is also taking computer skills classes. “We want our children to be excellent [students] in the future.”
It gets worse: According to the article above, adult schools in the District served about 100,000 K-12 students with “catchup” classes so that they could graduate on time from high school.
The scope of the cuts has been so great in California that, arguably, the CBA is the worst piece of legislation for adult education in the entire U.S. over the last several years. If the LAUSD goes through with this cut, I don’t think it will be arguable anymore. Even worse, as research continues to emerge linking the education success of parents and caregivers to children’s success in school, the negative impact on school success generally may be felt in California for a generation.