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Little Hoover Commission Recommends Adult Ed Move to Community Colleges

Posted on 03/01/2012

Little Hoover Report

The Little Hoover Commission (www) is an independent state oversight agency created by the legislature and composed of five public members appointed by the governor, four public members appointed by the Legislature, two senators and two assemblymembers. Its goal is to promote "economy, efficiency and improved services" in state government and agencies.

The Little Hoover Commission has released its report on the California Community Colleges, Serving Students, Serving California: Updating the California Community Colleges to Meet Evolving Demands (www). The Commission makes a number of recommendations for improving student outcomes, one of which is that adult education be removed from the K12 system and placed within the community college system. It recognizes the importance to the state of offering adult education services, and notes that many districts are now redirecting adult education funds to other purposes, as allowed through the current budget flexibility enacted in 2009. The report recommends that before adult education "capacity is lost, the state should transfer responsibility for educating all adult learners to the community colleges, and with it, all funding previously earmarked for Adult Schools." (Letter to the governor and legislature published at the beginning of the report, with no page number)

The report refers to the survey conducted by the Montebello School District to provide figures on the fate of adult schools across the state (p.75) and provides examples from Oakland Adult and Community Education, San Juan Unified School District, San Jose Unified School District, Anaheim, and Los Angeles Unified School District. It also mentions current instances of effective local collaboration between adult schools and community colleges such as Allies4ESL (www). It then describes the continuing education programs in the San Diego Community College District and City College of San Francisco as examples of how adult education should be provided (pp. 80-2).

Patrick Ainsworth and Debra Jones, then administrators over adult education at the California Department of Education, testified before the Commission on June 23, 2011. Their testimony (pdf) is available online, as is video (www) of all testimony heard by the Commission.

Interestingly, the report includes in a sidebar the recommendations of the California Budget Project (www) from a report (pdf) published in May 2011, which recommended that the state provide clear goals and a delineation of functions for all providers in the adult education system providing basic skills instruction, including the adult schools and the colleges. This approach would maintain the current multi-provider system, but resolve the conflicts that currently exist among different segments.

The Community College Board of Governors released a similar report (pdf) making recommendations to improve the system back in October (read more on OTAN). The Board of Governors report, often referred to as the Student Success Taskforce, reached many of the same conclusions as the Commission report. It does not directly recommend that the colleges take over adult education, but devotes a chapter to improving the education of basic skills students, in which it recommends that "state leaders need to determine if the current flexibility over K-12 adult education funds is consistent with state economic and social needs and whether these funds should be rededicated to serving basic skills needs. They should also determine whether these programs would best be placed in the K-12 or community college system and provide funding commensurate with the task." (p. 45).

Read the Commission report (www) to learn more and to see the other recommendations. The report may be ordered or downloaded from the Commission Web site.

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