KQED's The California Report, with EdSource Today reporter Kathryn Baron, produced an episode that features this EdSource report.
The continuing state budget crisis combined with increased flexibility in how school districts use funds previously earmarked for specific problems has had a dramatic impact on adult education programs in California.
Adult schools are an important strand in the state's safety net, offering community based-classes to some of the state's neediest adults, ranging from the unemployed, the disabled and the elderly to ex-offenders re-entering society and immigrants trying to learn English and become citizens.
An EdSource survey found that 23 of the stateʼs 30 largest school districts have made major cuts to their adult education programs since the beginning of the Great Recession, including:
- Last year, Anaheim Union High terminated its 73-year-old adult education program.
- Spending on Oakland Unifiedʼs adult school program has declined from more than $11 million in 2008–09 to a projected $1 million in 2012-13.
- Fontana Unified is spending $300,000 on adult education instead of the $1.6 million it used to spend before the recession.
- In San Jose, the Metropolitan Education Districtʼs adult school has closed two major campuses and 43 sites at local high schools and community centers in recent years.
This report documents these cuts and discusses possible approaches to keeping the doors of adult schools open, including having community colleges take them over, establishing regional centers as a way to share costs, and preserving targeted state support for adult schools as a separate funding stream.
EdSource thanks the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Reed Hastings, The James Irvine Foundation, The Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation, and the Stuart Foundation for supporting our work, including this report.