OAKLAND -- Family Literacy Programs in Oakland schools may disappear entirely if state funding for adult education programs moves to community colleges.
The Oakland school board voted 5-1 Wednesday to approve eliminating or reducing full service programs like adult education.
Although Gov. Jerry Brown's budget plan, which will shift adult education programs from K-12 schools to community colleges, is not finalized, the board needed to vote Wednesday to comply with the California Education Code. The code requires that employees whose positions may be eliminated or reduced must be notified by such changes by March 15 for the 2013-2014 school year.
General Education Development and English as a Second Language programs may fare well if shifted to higher education, but Family Literacy officials say their program cannot.
The program, officials say, offers education in skills unique to a K-12 setting. It is modeled for parents, mostly immigrants whose children are enrolled in an OUSD school, to learn how to be a part of their children's success in school. They not only learn how to speak English but also how to be comfortable engaging with teachers and administrators and understanding what their children may be learning so they can help with homework.
"We'll need to and continue to find ways to continue to serve the parents of OUSD," said Sue Pon, director of the Family Literacy Program.
"I think in general, we have to talk
Board President David Kakishiba voted to discontinue adult education programs in the school district, "in the context that we are looking to build back adult education, Family Literacy Programs and GED services in this city whether it's in OUSD or Peralta Colleges or in a contract with OUSD."
Board member Roseann Torres cast the lone "no" vote.
The district will save $1 million in costs for all teachers, administrative positions and teaching by eliminating adult education. The board's vote allows for that money to be spent on other costs in the district.
"It's important for us to figure out how to get more financial resources into our high schools, middle schools and elementary schools to help the 36,000 students," Kakishiba said. "All of our schools are under-resourced. We have to figure out how to give more capacity to our schools and for me, I think this is less hard."
That $1 million funding for the remaining programs was set aside after a majority of the funding was cut in the event that state funding allowed for the programs to stay in the K-12 schools. The district already expects cuts amounting to $14 million in federal funding and plan to accommodate that loss with finding cuts of their own along with administrative restructuring.
Victoria Carpenter, a teacher for Family Literacy at La Escuelita Elementary School, was disappointed by the board's vote, especially because of Family Literacy's unique model.
"Its' very sad because a lot of the students we serve aren't going to go to Laney College," she said. "A lot of immigrants come here with very little education from their country, and they're expected to participate in their children's education; and they need a community where they can build up their confidence in terms of learning."
Carpenter welcomes the idea of working with the community colleges to keep Family Literacy in OUSD schools but feels the process may be complicated particularly with employing the current certificated adult education teachers in the program.
Community colleges have different requirements for teachers than adult education, and Family Literacy teachers may not qualify, she said.
The board can rescind the layoff notices before May 8 if budget plans change.