March 1, 2012
LA Daily News
By Barbara Jones
Community colleges should take over some adult school programs from cash-strapped school districts like Los Angeles Unified as California’s financial crisis lingers, a state watchdog agency has recommended.
A report by the Little Hoover Commission lists several recommendations for making the community college system more effective.
They include diverting state funding for adult education from K-12 districts to community colleges, which could add basic-education programs — such as reading, writing and English-language classes — to their existing offerings.
“Following the lead of 32 other states, California should consolidate adult education programs under the community college system,” the report says. “Rather than invest new money into adult education, California should send previously allocated adult school dollars to the community colleges.”
Because money for public education is provided by the state, a change in how it’s allocated would require action by the Legislature.
Los Angeles Unified got $165 million this year for its adult-education classes and $60 million for its occupational centers, which together serve about 300,000 students.
With the LAUSD facing its own budget crisis, Superintendent John Deasy wanted to eliminate most adult education classes in 2012-13, and use the $200 million to bolster K-12 programs. The school board, however, ordered him to try to salvage at least some of the program.
Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott issued a statement saying the state’s two-year schools are equipped to expand their adult education offerings as long as adequate funding is available.
“The California Community Colleges does not have a formal position on having adult education funds or duties shifted to our system,” he said. “We do, however, believe that the state should focus more on the pressing adult education need, develop a strategy for addressing it, and make the necessary investments.
“The California Community Colleges system would be interested in playing an even greater role in this area, but we would need the funding to match the responsibility.”
Los Angeles Unified officials had no comment on the report.
The commission’s report said lawmakers and education officials need to refocus efforts to better prepare students to transfer to four-year universities or teach them technical skills. It noted that roughly 90 percent of incoming community college students are unprepared for college-level math and 75 percent are not equipped to take English classes.
It also suggested that students who show academic success and commitment to their education should be given priority for classes and financial aid.