New faces from Garfield campus will be seen at the Guild, but there is continuity, too.
Cheryl Johnson, formerly on the negotiating team, has now been elected the Garfield Guild Steward. Cheryl brings with her several years of experience and patience from that position to her position as Garfield Steward involves representing Garfield faculty, bringing issues that concern Continuing Education to the Guild, planning events at Garfield, and being a member of the Guild Executive. Her varied background as an ESL instructor in Non-Credit at Garfield for many years, and previously abroad while in the Peace Corps, and as a lawyer, as well as her commitment to union values, will greatly contribute to the position. Congratulations Cheryl!
Caroline dePiro, also ESL Non-credit, has been selected to take over Cheryl’s position on the negotiating team after Cheryl said she had to withdraw due to a scheduling conflict. After teaching at Garfield for eleven years, Caroline was willing to “get involved” and is jumping into the position. In our department, Caroline is known for her energy, enthusiasm, innovation and brains. She currently is also student advisor for the Buddhist club on main campus. As someone commented, she shows both yin and yang. Congratulations, Caroline!
Several other candidates from Garfield ran for positions. We can only hope that they will continue to become involved and be even more ready to contribute to Garfield’s voice in the college in the future.
The community room at Garfield was packed with English as Second Language (ESL) Non-credit students. Teachers had given awards. Alice Mecom, Chair of Non-credit ESL Division, had explained to the students what an ESL Certificate of Completion approved by the Chancellors office of the State of California meant. Then one student from the higher level came to the podium and spoke in her best English about how important it was for her to take ESL classes and participate in the Parent Education classes for herself, her little boy, and her husband. Of course, all of this was being taped by her beaming husband, tot in tow.
Paradoxically, this short speech highlighted the achievements and the tragedies of various departments in Continuing Education. While the Level 3 Certificate of Completion approved by the Chancellors office of the State of California in ESL helped assure the continuation of Garfield Campus’s ESL classes, and similar state certified certificates helped the continuation of business and education classes through the drastic and devastating cuts that others adult schools have seen in the last few years, the Parent Education class that this student found so valuable as an immigrant parent to a young child did not survive in the same manner. That program was slashed; fifty percent of the classes were cut, as were the programs at Lifelong Learning. As they could not give out state certified certificates to those who participated, they were not spared the chopping block in funds to adult education. In the hierarchy of values current in adult education, Parent Ed could not compete with job training and English language for immigrants.
That is indeed a sad state, but an excellent example of what happens when courses are judged by the dollar sign. Can Parent Ed be quantified? Perhaps, but it may take twenty years to have the data which could prove that indeed it is dollar sound, just as Headstart has shown itself to be. Happy faces, what was called in my home Shalom Bayit (peace in the home), immigrant parents who now understand a little more what their children are doing in American preschools and schools, American-born parents who just want to help their children grow happily and healthfully—these are being sacrificed to the dollar and the past budget cuts. Hopefully, with Prop 30 there may be a slow return to the former level of activity.
In contrast, State supported certificates are given upon completion of a program in many areas. This has assured funding in the last budget slashing years. According to Jan Young, Division Chair of Business and Life Skills, Continuing Education, over 100 students complete their GED high school equivalent exam, annually. In addition certificates are given in programs for computer training, office skills, medical and dental office and similar areas. In ESL, there are three levels; the two higher ones include conversation and a level of competency and literacy in computers. This year, so far, 29 students have received the certificate after the fall semester, an increase of 28% over last year. In the tight job market of today, these offer tangible state certified documentation that the student has achieved a certain level of proficiency.
Garfield Campus is in a process of reevaluation, and has to consider many issues, including coordination with other programs, as well as the usual financial and special issues. Alfred Ramirez, Interim Administrative Dean, Continuing and Community Education, has scheduled many open meetings to allow staff and students to learn more about possible plans and to express their opinions and share their ideas. The large departments were spared some of the ax last fall, although summer and winter were practically non-existent. They were also relieved just a few weeks ago from having to accept Governor Brown’s plan to bring all state adult education into community colleges. While this may not be a bad idea in an overall long-range plan, a hurried adaptation would have probably robbed us of even more funds. With some intelligent plans, however, and assured funds for growth, the Garfield Campus and Continuing Education, wherever its classes are located, can serve the adults in the community in ever more creative and productive ways , including those that bring their tots that participate in Parent Ed classes with mommy and daddy, and caretaker grandparents.