Jerry Brown’s 2015-2016 Budget Will Help Adult ESL Programs in California

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Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd

Many adult ESL students in California rely on adult ed programs to teach them English in order to help them with their jobs and to better integrate into society. However, these programs had been threatened due to funding cuts in education following the recession in 2009.

Thus, educators were greatly relieved that Governor Jerry Brown’s 2015-2016 budget allocated $500 million for an Adult Education Bloc Grant. This will allow continued funding for K-12 adult ed programs for another year.

Since the recession, school districts could use funding formerly allocated to adult schools for any educational purpose. However, the new budget restores funding specifically for adult ed classes. In addition, many rural areas of the state did not have any funding for K-12 adult programs, but the new budget would allocate funding for the entire state.

While some former adult ed priorities such as parent education and older adult programs will no longer receive direct funding, the Governor specified that this funding should include citizenship and ESL classes, as this is a high-need, high-priority area.

Some areas such as San Mateo have been collaborating with community partners to help the area’s immigrants get the education they need to find well-paid jobs and careers.

Having such partners in the community can be a huge help to adult ESL programs. For instance, an adult ed initiative in San Mateo began in 2011 with support from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and a federal Workforce Immigration grant.

This funding enables the San Mateo Adult School to tailor its programs to immigrants who need to learn conversational English to succeed in their jobs. Once the students have mastered their adult ed coursework, they can transition to higher level ESL coursework at the local community college.