Community colleges and adult schools could merge soon

Governor Jerry Brown is considering legislation that would combine community colleges and adult schools.

Whether community colleges should take on the responsibility of hosting adult schools has been debated since the 1970s. That’s when the legislature switched the governance of community colleges from the State Board of Education to the CCC Board of Governors, according to the Legislative’ Analyst’s Office, a non-partisan fiscal and policy adviser. Now, Brown wants to confront this issue head on.

Combining the two schooling institutions will be a beneficial movement, although the transfer needs to be done in an effective method.

Adult schools are the primary provider of adult education in the state of California. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, individuals 16 and older had a 44 percent participation rate. This expresses the commitment and drive to succeed in this economy and should be supported in a developed environment.

The core mission of adult school is to provide basic knowledge and skills that will  be of use in a career or civil life.

These courses are provided for people who hope to earn their high school diploma, learn English as a second language (ESL) and be able to read, write and succeed at a collegiate level to prepare for the workforce.

Adult schools have been hosted in many school districts and community colleges, which raises the question: Should adult schools be operated primarily on community college campuses?

“I think it’s a wonderful idea since we already have programs that allow high school students to enroll in community college,” said Debbie Lin Shull, a professor from Chaffey College, a community college in Rancho Cucamonga, in an email. “There are many courses in adult schools that are at the same level of community colleges, so combining it would be wonderful. This would encourage more people to attend school and pursue an education beyond GED.”

Some might wonder, though, who would teach the courses.

“Professors are more accustomed to teaching students at a higher intellectual level,” said CLU sophomore Jillian Sessions.

According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, adult school teachers are trained to teach individuals who have a lower level of education and seek to gain basic skills needed in the work force.

Selma Duran, a teacher at San Fernando High School, attended adult school at night as a 12-year-old to learn English.

“I felt intimidated by a preconceived idea that I was going to be around people who will make fun of my lack of knowledge of the language,” said Duran. “I felt better, especially because the teacher was very patient with all of us.  Now imagine what an adult with only a third grade reading and writing level will feel going to a community college with a professor who does not know the methodology of teaching from a different perspective from that of a college student.”

Some students also believe that each school has a different purpose, and combining them wouldn’t be beneficial to the students.

“I don’t think they should be combined because adult school is for getting a diploma and community college is for getting a degree. Degrees and diplomas are two different things,” said sophomore Madeline Krueger.

The final decision on who will instruct these classes has not yet been decided.

“I would be against it if that meant adult school teachers would lose their jobs,” said Karla Duarte, a student from Santa Monica Community College. “They would become part of an already large population of people in this country without a job.”

Krueger also thinks allocating funds effectively is important in a merger like this.

“They just need to make sure that the funding used toward the shift will accommodate changes,” said Krueger.

If the union is successful, only the campus should be shared. Professors and teachers should keep their own separate classes and roles, since each mentor was trained for their job and therefore, excels in it.

This would allow students to feel more comfortable being among fellow peers and make sure no one loses their job.


Holly Dunn
Staff Writer
Published Feb. 13, 2013