the San Jose Unified School District debated who should get to go to school these days, and the board’s conclusion Thursday night was kids come first. Faced with further budget cuts and an unsympathetic state legislature, the school board voted to gut adult education programs and to divert the funds to K-12 education. The two programs that will suffer most are vocational training for adults and programs to teach English as a second language (ESL).
The courses, run by the Metropolitan Adult Education Program (MetroED), previously operated on a $5.4 million budget. That budget will be slashed by two-thirds to just $1.8 million. Programs teaching essential skills will be pared down significantly, enrichment programs will be eliminated and 99 adult education teachers will join the ranks of the unemployed.
The money, which will be diverted to K-12 schools, will be used to restore five furlough days, assist at-risk middle school students with the “school within a school” program, and reintroduce summer school to the district.
Supporters of adult education were outraged by the decision. “It’s more important for the adults to have a good education, so they can support their children,” said one adult education student about the cuts. Superintendent Vincent Matthews disagrees. He believes that the district’s priority should be its children. Even with the $3.6 million, the district will be forced to dip deeply into its reserve funds, though the precise amount now depends on whether Gov. Jerry Brown wins approval for his proposed tax extension.
At Thursday’s public meeting, one parent reminded the district that kids only get one chance. Matthews has decided to give it to them.