What's at Stake as LA's Adult Ed Programs Face Closure

April 30, 2012 | Uprising Radio |  Link to article

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Facing a severe financial shortfall, the Los Angeles Unified School District in March passed a conditional budget that would cut its entire adult education program, serving hundreds of thousands of mostly immigrant and working class Angelenos. The worst-case scenario budget could be enacted later this year if a number of tax measures on this November's ballot do not pass, and if the district is unable to come to agreement with the teachers union on salaries and furloughs. At stake is the education of nearly one third of LAUSD's students, who are adults hoping to obtain their high school diplomas on their way to college, or learn English, or simply obtain job skills.

Writing for the Huffington Post, UCLA Professor Marjorie Faulstich raises the fact that Adult Ed program comprise only 2% of the LAUSD budget, and as such, are extremely financially efficient. She asserts that more than 10% of the district's budget is classified as "Other Operating Expenses," and asks, "Why not make smaller cuts across the board, so that no one group is totally sacrificed? At the very least, the LAUSD should explain exactly what these "other" budget expenses are, and why the ax shouldn't fall there instead."

As a whole, the US is well behind other developed nations in its number of adults with post-secondary education credentials, according to a new study by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). Only 41% of young adults have college degrees in the US, compared with nearly 60% in countries like Canada and Japan. In order to achieve similar rates of education, the US needs 24 million more college graduates by 2025. The study estimates that closing the degree gap would bring an additional $600 billion of revenues nationally. Cuts to Adult Ed programs in cities like LA could potentially curtail the college aspirations of thousands of adults.

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