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Santiago Jackson

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									ASSEMBLY SELECT COMMITTEE ON ADULT EDUCATION HEARING

Assessing and Addressing Need: A Local Provider’s Perspective
Testimony provided by: Santiago Jackson, Assistant Superintendent Division of Adult and Career Education Los Angeles Unified School District November 19, 2003 Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the state’s adult education program, with specific references to the greater Los Angeles area. I am presenting general comments and offering specific suggestions for possible action by the legislature or the appropriate agency. My testimony is based on my observations in managing the Division of Adult and Career Education in the Los Angeles Unified School District during the past three years, and my 19 years of experience as a lobbyist for the school district. I will begin with a number of general observations comparing the K-12 and adult education systems.

Comparison of K-12 and Adult Education The following represent examples of areas of commonality and difference between K-12 and adult education:  Common features: o Credentialed teachers o Completion of all state-mandated coursework, including algebra, and proficiency tests is required for high school diploma  Different features: o Professional development (State support for K-12) o State school construction bonds (State support for K-12 and higher education, including community colleges)

These common/different features need to be observed as educational policies are formulated. Otherwise, requirements are enacted without the commensurate support to execute them effectively.

Value of Adult Education to the State Compared to other K-12 major categorical education programs, adult education is a valuable asset to the state because of the following attributes:  Responsiveness to the immediate educational needs of the local community  Flexibility in course offerings within the ten authorized areas of instruction  Ability to be school-based or community-based  Cost-effectiveness when compared to other public education programs

Questions for Analysis State policymakers face the challenge of analyzing the following questions and determining the direction that they want the adult education program to take:  What accountabilities, if any, do you wish to attach to the program? As an example, federal funding for the Workforce Investment Act, Title II is based on evidence of student attainment of learning gains.  To what degree should adult education funds be leveraged with other state-funded programs to maximize positive results? This question is particularly relevant as the state officials invest in programs to train employees or increase economic vitality.  Within adult education, what priorities need to be addressed to provide maximum support to the overall present and future educational and employment training needs of the state? For example, identifying what priorities need to be addressed and doing so through the current ten authorized areas of instruction, which allow maximum discretion on local offerings. The aforementioned are major issues that will generate debate as changes may be proposed. Meanwhile, the opportunity exists for enacting a number of policies that would improve adult education’s ability to address local needs while remaining cost-effective, to the extent that adult education could serve a larger number of students and improve support services. The following specific issues could be addressed through legislative, administrative, or regulatory corrective action to respond to the immediate educational needs of local communities.

Issues in Need of Legislative Action  Funding to Prepare for Fields with Worker Shortages—Health Careers Workforce shortages in healthcare occupations across California are nearing critical proportions, especially in the areas of nursing, pharmacy, and radiology. However, districts are unable to address effectively the shortage of qualified healthcare workers in the state because the cost of training individuals in this area of employment exceeds the apportionment that the state provides. In fact, districts lose money on every class of healthcare students they graduate. Recommendation: Introduce legislation to establish cost-reimbursement funding or increased apportionment for specific healthcare related occupations or other employment fields with shortages of workers. This would allow districts to break even on workforce training costs, train more healthcare workers, provide employment opportunities, and meet the demand for healthcare workers.  Distance Learning The California Education Code allows adult education programs to offer five percent of their entitlement through alternative instructional methods, including Distance Learning programs. In Los Angeles, Distance Learning English as a Second Language and parent education lessons are delivered through instructional videos as well as through supportive print and 2
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audio material. The program makes education accessible to students who are unable to attend traditional classroom instruction because of family and work commitments or lack of transportation. Adult students also enroll in a Distance Learning course to accelerate or enhance classroom instruction. Recommendation: Modify existing Education Code provisions to recognize Distance Learning as a proven educational modality, thus removing it from the present five percent apportionment limit on innovative and alternative instructional methods. Removing the five percent cap, or increasing the cap to a higher percentage, would allow districts to serve a larger number of students, including single mothers, who are unable to access traditional instruction.  Vocational Foreign Language Instruction Despite the growing demand in our multiethnic and multilingual communities for native English-speaking persons to study a second language, in adult education, instruction in foreign languages is currently limited to high school diploma courses. The ability to learn a foreign language predominantly used in certain communities would benefit numerous individuals presently employed in fields requiring contact with the general public. Recommendation: Expand the adult education authorized areas of instruction to include foreign language acquisition to allow individuals who need to communicate with non-English speakers in the course of their occupations—such as individuals in retail and food services; teachers; counselors; and emergency and nonemergency healthcare and police department workers— to learn the required foreign language for effective communication.  Apportionment for Adult Education Guidance and Counseling Services Adult education programs provide counseling and guidance services to students enrolled in their programs. Title V, §10530 specifically requires that “an approved adult school shall provide counseling and guidance services adequate to meet the needs of the students attending classes of such school.” These counseling services are disproportionately expensive when compared to the cost of instruction because they are provided on a one-to-one, student-to-advisor basis. However, the state does not reimburse districts for the costs of these counseling services. Recommendation: Pursue legislative change to provide adult education programs with apportionment for guidance and counseling services to students. Based on California’s comparative high percentage of low level of education adult population, a crucial need exists to guide and counsel students regarding their educational/training options as a means of assisting them to succeed in school and improve their income potential.

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Issues in Need of Administrative or Regulatory Changes  Data Collection The present requirements for data collection activities in the state’s adult education programs are often redundant and/or unnecessary. These activities consume scarce funding resources that could be better utilized to support educational activities and serve a larger number of students. In testimony to the Assembly Select Committee on Adult Education on July 29, 2003, California Research Bureau (CRB) staff questioned the validity and value of adult education data currently collected. CRB staff not only highlighted the fact that available data is incomplete but also questioned the usefulness of the data being required of adult education programs as a condition of funding. Recommendation: Change the present data collection requirements for adult education programs to produce cost-effective data collection requirements and procedures.  Increased Access to Adult Education by Workers California is witnessing increased attention to improving the literacy levels of its work force. Some of the very workers who need to gain literacy skills are unable to do so because they are underemployed in positions which do not allow for attendance in classes at schools. Also, these same individuals may be working two or more jobs to earn incomes to survive in high-cost communities. Adult education could help to address low literacy skills by providing programs of instruction, with a limited scope, at work sites. Recommendation: Increase access to adult education literacy programs in the workplace—following the development of strict standards—to facilitate the educational upgrading of the local work force for the mutual benefit of employers and workers and, ultimately, California society as a whole.

Overview of the Division The Division of Adult and Career Education administers a large and comprehensive program of education and training annually serving over 419,000 adults and in- and out-of-school youth through 25 community adult schools, 11 career technical education centers, and 1,740 branch locations. Within its total student enrollment for 2002-2003, the Division enrolled over 66,200 high school students. Last year alone, Division programs assisted 24,710 District high school seniors to graduate. The Division offers over 600 state-approved courses. Each Division school is individually accredited and offers a full array of services. Competency-based instruction ensures that the

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students’ skills are assessed and that prior learning is recognized to maximize students’ instructional time.  Division Programs Addressing Workforce Literacy Based on the fact that Los Angeles has the least educated adult population of any major metropolitan area in the United States,* Division efforts are focused on programs that address workforce literacy including: o English as a Second Language o Adult Basic Studies o GED Preparation o Adult High School Diploma o Distance Learning o Career Training/Retraining programs

*Source: Employment Policy Foundation Tabulations of Bureau of Labor Statistics  Major Student Enrollments in Division Programs The following Division student enrollment information for 2002-2003, a result of leveraging the District’s adult education and regional occupational centers and programs funds, denotes the educational and training needs of Los Angeles residents and guides Division decisions regarding programs and services to offer to the community: o English as a Second Language 198,205 o Career Training Programs 95,109 o Academic Program 49,208 o Parent Education 30,092 o Adult Basic Studies 17,970

Closing Remarks The current California public adult education system provides an invaluable service in addressing the educational needs of communities. However, periodic reviews are needed to assess the system’s effectiveness in addressing current issues and demands. The committee’s activities at this time are highly appropriate and are to be commended. Thank you again for the opportunity to address this committee and for your consideration of my recommendations.

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