How Adult Education Suffers

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It’s no surprise that California’s public colleges are hurt by the state’s continuing budget problems.

But some California higher education programs, or at least their funding streams, are actually part of elementary and secondary education. And they’re suffering. According to an article by Melody Gutierrez in the Sacramento Bee:

One of the biggest casualties of the school funding crisis in California is adult education.

For decades, a large portion of California’s school funding was strictly designated in categories. In other words, adult education funding was required to be used for just that – providing adults with high school diploma classes and offering a wide range of classes from English as a second language to career classes such as auto mechanics, and health and safety classes, including restaurant food handling.

In 2009, those categorical restrictions were lifted for 40 programs, including adult education. That gave embattled school districts the ability to redirect a large chunk of money for other needs.

The state provides more than $634 million every year for adult education, but school districts increasingly put adult education cash into the general. And when budget cuts occur, it’s adult ed that often suffers most.

Many school districts are tempted to cut adult education altogether in order use the money to support K-12 education’s hemorrhaging budgets. There’s a reason for this, but it doesn’t really fix a problem, so much as move the problem from one group to another.

It’s always things like these, the most desperate, necessary, and important, yet unfashionable, programs where funding matters most. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer