From the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles Weekly Update Week of February 3, 2014 | http://bit.ly/1igKGaE
Thursday, January 30, 2014 :: In President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech on January 28, 2014, he referenced education less often than in previous years, but stressed it as a means to improve the economy and decrease poverty. Specifically, he called on Congress to expand preschool to more 4-year-olds, improve job-training programs and make postsecondary education more effective and accessible. The focus was not on education per se, but more on improving the lives of the American people. There were no new proposals for K-12 education in this speech and although he has addressed it in previous years, Congress has yet to pass any of his initiatives. Vowing, this time, to bypass Congress and use his executive power, he said, “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
The President pushed for Congress to enact a major initiative that encourages states to offer prekindergarten to more 4-year-olds, improve program quality and increase access to Head Start programs. Recognizing that preschool programs are crucial for success and are one avenue to close the achievement gap and overcome inequality, lawmakers have introduced legislation to make these goals a reality, but due to the cost, it has not garnered enough support. Therefore, Obama said he would pull together a coalition of business leaders, philanthropists and elected officials to help expand pre-K for the neediest children.
He called for a need to bolster job-training programs and help high schools and postsecondary institutions prepare students for careers in the STEM fields. In 2012, the President presented a plan that would revise the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act which the House education committee is just now starting to discuss. However, $100 million has been allocated for schools to partner with businesses to increase their STEM offerings. The deadline to apply for these funds was January 26, 2014.
President Obama has allocated more than $150 billion in federal financial aid to help pay for post-secondary education and is calling for an expansion of income-based loan repayment plans, stressing that he did not want any middle-class student to be priced out of a college education.
The President called for an increased investment in the nation’s infrastructure, particularly as it relates to technology and to speed up the implementation of the ConnectEd program. The existing E-rate program needs to be improved to meet the increasing technology demands from schools. The president mentioned that he wanted 99 percent of the nation’s schools to have access to high-speed broadband within five years.
The President again asked for new gun laws to reduce violence. Last year, he called for a ban on military assault style weapons, more background checks and new resources for mental health and safety in schools. None of the proposals related to curbing access to guns made it through Congress this past year, although some funds were allocated for school safety and mental health.
Notably absent from the speech was any mention of the reauthorization of ESEA or of the Common Core State Standards, although he did mention that Race to the Top caused states to raise their standards. Education officials and education organization officials praised the speech for focusing on expanding opportunity and closing the income gap, subjects to which education is fundamentally connected.
UPDATE ON ADULT EDUCATION
A joint committee of members from both legislative houses in Sacramento is meeting this week to review the status of adult education in the state. Governor Brown proposed last year to shift administration of adult programs to community colleges because K-12 districts were reducing their offerings. Lawmakers rejected this plan but compromised by advising school districts to maintain services for two years while providing funds to plan for the development of better ways to serve the adult education needs regionally. While this is taking place in Sacramento, LAUSD’s DACE has continued to face budgetary cuts. We do not know the Superintendent’s plan for the expenditure of the additional revenue that the District has received or if adult ed will be the recipient of any new funding, but the letter below from an adult school administrator shows the current state of adult education in LAUSD.
- Luisa (not her real name) wants to learn more English to help her son and daughter. Her daughter has just begun high school and her son is in elementary school. She would like to be better able to communicate with school staff and help or at least better understand her children’s homework.
- Zhi Peng (not his real name) has a family and would like to take a Powerline Mechanics program and get a lucrative job with Southern California Edison. Both of these parents are on waiting lists because the classes are full.
- Roger Medina (not his real name) is a concurrent student who needs a health class to graduate. Unfortunately, all the classes at his nearby Adult Education Service Area are full. Since many Adult Education classes for concurrent students are in Individualized Instruction Lab settings, Roger will have to wait until someone finishes so he can enroll.
In fact, there are more than 14,000 adults and concurrent students on waitlists for classes in the Division of Adult and Career Education. Such is one of the effects of the major budget cuts to Adult Education funding.
As you can see, cuts to Adult Education are cuts to us all.