[ education Category ]
April 01, 2003

Support Adult Ed

A rally to support Adult Education will be held this Thursday, April 3, from 10:00am-11:30am at the Capitol Rotunda.

Governor Lingle's proposed budget cuts to the Adult Education program would essentially kill the program, limiting classes to a handful of courses open to a select few. This would make obtaining a GED, learning essential job skills (or new skills required for career advancement), and even obtaining US Citizenship much more difficult for many people.

According to a recent Honolulu Advertiser article, Lingle's proposed budget cuts would eliminate so-called "leisure courses" entirely, keeping only some essential courses.

"Such classes [essential courses], however, would only be provided for those who could not afford to take them privately."

The article goes on to say, "But DOE Superintendent Pat Hamamoto said community or special-interest programs such as those mentioned by Lingle are nearly entirely self-sustaining and most of the $5.5 million budget goes toward critical areas such as adult literacy and high school diplomas, citizenship training for recent immigrants and English for second-language learner classes."

The "essential courses", in addition, are not funded solely by the state, but are matched dollar-for-dollar by federal funding.

As someone who has taken several Adult Education courses that fall into the "leisure" category, I can say that they're hardly relaxing. I have had instructors who have challenged me more than college professors- and they don't do it for they pay. They're passionate about the subjects they teach, and they truly enjoy teaching.

The "leisure" courses I have taken include subjects such as Japanese and Hawaiian language. Many of my classmates were interested in furthering their job skills through Adult Education.

I believe that these classes serve the community in several ways. They may help people learn English and basic job skills, offer career advancement possibilities through certificates obtained from course completion, increase cultural awareness, encourage physical fitness, and provide stimulation and activities for the elderly.

In addition, my Hawaiian language instructor pointed out that adults enrolled in the program set a good example for their children, and encourage lifelong learning.

I will be present this Thursday at 10:30am to show my support for Adult Education. If you can make it, I encourage you to come. If not, please phone, fax, or email your representatives, the Senate Education Committee, the Senate Ways and Means and the House Finance Committee. You can look up your house and senate representatives and find their contact information here.

Posted by windwardskies at April 01, 2003 09:56 PM


Posted by Ryan on April 1, 2003 11:23 PM:

Kudos to you for tracking this issue, and committing to doing your part. Since I recently fired off a couple of notes to my representatives on that ridiculous Long Term Care tax, it should be quick work to share my views on this issue too.

Clearly, a deeper look at this program is needed, beyond flat cuts. I can personally see that "leisure courses" that are not core but yet in high demand can break even, charging a premium to folks like me who would take them just to broaden my horizons, but having the income generated support "essential courses." What is a "leisure course" could be essential to someone else. And finally, if "essential courses" make up the majority of expenditures of the department's budget, a cut will cleary misproportionally and adversely affect them and the people they were designed to support.

I admit not really knowing much about this issue beyond the whole flap between Hamamoto and Lingle and who agreed to what. But it is important. I hope you'll share what you find on Thursday.

Posted by Nobody on April 2, 2003 9:46 PM:

Here's an interesting column from the Star-Bulletin.

I say keep those leisure classes that you want to take. But if people want to attend, they'd better be willing to pay. It's hard enough to get people to pay the normal tuition in the UH system anyway without complaining that it's too much.

Posted by cheyne on April 2, 2003 11:16 PM:

i'll see you there Lisa :)

I finally have an issue to defend and I'm going to be there to do it.

what's a subversive girl to wear to an event such as this?


Posted by lisa on April 3, 2003 8:06 AM:

To clarify, the "leisure courses" are offered due to community request- under current legislation, the DOE is legally obligated to offer courses requested by the community.

These courses are not funded from the state budget, but through enrollment fees. If course enrollment is too low to cover costs, the course will be cancelled.

I have spoken with teachers who say that since these fees were put in place (I believe a couple of years ago), course enrollment has dropped dramatically and many classes were cancelled. An example was that Japanese 1-4 was offered, now there is only one level (IA and IB). In addition, I'm told there used to be a much better system in place to bridge the way to community college enrollment.

Regardless of funding, the proposed budget cuts would eliminate all but a handful of classes for a handful of people. Even if you were willing to pay for, say, Japanese and Ballroom Dancing, the classes simply wouldn't be available.

Cheyne, if you're there I get the feeling I won't be able to miss you ;) I'm bringing my camera..

Posted by lisa on April 3, 2003 5:01 PM:

Hundreds Protest Adult Education Cuts

Photo gallery to follow soon!

Posted by Ryan on April 10, 2003 3:21 PM:

The Honolulu Advertiser's Jennifer Hiller chimed in with a column in today's edition.

Looking back, I agree with her that the wrong question was being asked by Lingle & Co. With self-sustaining "leisure" classes generally breaking even, targeting them in a budget tiff over adult education is misguided. However, I think it's fair to reevaluate whether adult education as a whole belongs under the DOE, or under the Community College system.

DOE programs toward helping adults get a GED - the equivalent of what their core education function provides - makes some sense. But I wouldn't slip too much else under that umbrella.

A Senate Ways and Means Committee draft of the budget rejected Lingle's proposal to cut adult education. That doesn't mean the issue won't resurface.

Posted by Ryan on April 11, 2003 9:16 AM:

In the interests of equal time, here's a different take on the proposed cut... and specifically, on the Capitol rally.

Posted by lisa on April 11, 2003 9:53 AM:

That's an interesting report from a very, um, badly designed site.

I did notice she deliberately misquoted people, which bothered me a good deal, and didn't attribute a lot of her "facts". An example:

Supporters of adult education say programs are "self-supporting."

However, that does not appear to be true. According to the Department of Education's own figures, a special fund of $1 million is allocated to cover expenditures for all programs, and the program also receives over $1.5 million in federal funding in addition to the general fund appropriations.

Well, yes, the program does get federal funds- but only, as I said before, for the "essential" courses, not the "leisure" ones. And only the leisure courses are "self-supporting".

It is true that the program is under scrutiny and is currently in the process of being accredited.

However, I do not know of anyone who was gien course credit for attending the rally. I am not saying it wasn't done, just that nobody I know of got any credit for attending the rally.

Also to the best of my knowledge, no teachers were compensated for attending. I believe some did seek permission to attend (and bring their classes) during class time, but I do not know if that was approved.

I think this "reporter" is confusing the issues, as well. Adult Education does provide a valuable community service, and the protesters were fighting for the continuation of that service.

I am not surprised to hear that there is mismanagement and other trouble with the program's administration- can anyone name a single government agency, department, sub-agency, etc. that hasn't been shown to be corrupt in some way? but it seems that making the taxpayers who want to take advantage of educational opportunities should not have to suffer because of this.

Portraying the rally participants as pawns in a beaurocratic game on essentially heresay is distasteful.

And arguing that the program should be cut simply because it's mismanaged is a logical fallacy. I heard a report that the head of the vice squad is under investigation for belonging to a criminal organization- should we cut the entire vice squad because the guy in charge is a criminal?

On another note, I was pleased to see that out of 33 emails I sent to the State Legislators, I got 6 replies, a few of them well thought-out. Suzanne Chun Oakland, a Senator on the Ways and Means Committee, mentioned that the committee had replaced the funds that had been proposed to be cut from the program.

Regarding the Community College reorg idea, I am not opposed to it; however, I turned to Adult Ed because the community college system was a letdown. Between having to prove state residency (not difficult, but a hassle), the cost of classes and supplies, the inability to enroll in any class I wanted- due to the classes being full before I was allowed to register, and classes only being offered during work hours- it was impossible for me to actually take any classes.

I worry that if Adult Ed is offered only in the large lecture rooms of the community colleges, the costs of courses, materials, parking, etc. as well as the difficulty of access (there are only a handful of community colleges, whereas the current program takes advantage of local primary and secondary school campuses) will cause a slow death to the program because of the decreased enrollment.

I know the public schools need all the help and funds they can get to educate children, but there are many adults who can benefit from free or low-cost education as well. We shouldn't have to choose between the two.

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