California Educator

June / July 2018

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unique category of pre-collegiate skills for adults. And because AE serves a population that is often overlooked, it can be referred to as the "stepchild" of the California school system. Jean MacDonald and Elza Hess, teachers at the Pitts- burg Adult Education Center, would like AE to receive the recognition and respect it deserves, so they have stepped up to advocate for AE teachers and programs. A tale of two advocates MacDonald teaches English as a Second Language (ESL), and Hess teaches ESL and second language literacy. Both hold master's degrees. ey have not been Pittsburg Education Association (PEA) members for years. Staff on site told them that because of their part-time status, they were ineligible for membership. "We were led to believe that our union would not take us," says MacDonald, who found out otherwise when she visited the union office, was handed an application, and signed up on the spot. MacDonald signed up Hess, who became a site rep nearly two years ago. Hess then signed up other colleagues. MacDonald was elected as a co-site rep this school year. Before becoming reps, they had never met most of their fellow teachers, even though they all have taught From left: Elza Hess, Jean MacDonald, Teodora Bachvarova. Bachvarova is holding her just-completed union application. dult education programs provide an invaluable service to adults and the communities they live in by helping them graduate from high school, speak, read and write in English, pass the GED (General Educational Development) test, learn job skills, and become U.S. citizens. AE benefits more than just the students. Partic- ipants in adult education programs are al so more likely to have a positive impact on the education of their children, because well-educated adults lead to well-educated children. But over the years, AE programs have endured mas- sive cutbacks, funding uncertainty, and poor treatment of teachers. ere can be confusion about them, because they're neither K-12 nor higher education. (AE classes are located in both K-12 districts and community col- lege campuses.) Instead, adult education falls into a A Are Adults Being Served? Adult education advocates push for fairness By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Photos by Rosemary Louissaint 52 CTA & You

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