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School Board to Address Hot-Button Issue of Adult Education

School Board will address adult education programs at Thursday evening meeting, as well as host a Saturday morning meeting to solicit community feedback.

No changes have been made to Adult Education English Language Learners and Adult Basic Education for this school year, according to the School Board’s chairman, although the board will discuss the issue at its Thursday evening meeting.

The GED program will continue for currently enrolled students.

All of these programs are funded through June 2012, according to the School Board. "All students in these programs should feel assured that their classes will continue in January," the board said in a statement.

The School Board "takes seriously our responsibility to ensure that our programs are continually improving to better serve our students," Chairman Sheryl Gorsuch said.

The Alexandria community has been afire with comments on listservs and elsewhere about concern of a possible end to the programs.

In this week’s NAACP Alexandria newsletter, said that on Dec. 1, the branch was contacted regarding the possible closure of the ACPS Adult Education Program on Dec. 22.

“This abrupt closure would have had a devastating effect on the education opportunities of low income adults of color in Alexandria,” Chapman said. “Over the next week, a coalition of adult education staff, students, community members and the Alexandria NAACP was able to get the school system to clearly outline their proposal for the Adult Education Program, and back away from its Dec. 22 closure date and force the revisioning of a plan that would have meant the end of Adult Education for anyone over 22 in the city of Alexandria.”

On Dec. 8, ACPS agreed to continue all Adult Education programs through the end of the school year, according to Chapman.

“I am thankful to the staff and students of the adult education program for allowing the Alexandria NAACP to work with them and stand together with them to fight to keep Adult Education in Alexandria,” Chapman said.

The board is expecting Superintendent Mort Sherman and senior staff to present the report for Flexible and Extended Learning Opportunities, including recommendations for improvements to Adult Education Programs, at the Dec. 15 School Board meeting.

NAACP officers are planning on attending the Thursday 7 p.m. meeting.

The board will not vote on Sherman's proposal this evening and said it will provide opportunity for community feedback before a vote is scheduled. The first opportunity is a Community Meeting on Dec. 17 at 9:30 a.m., at the Minnie Howard Campus Media Center where Gorsuch, Vice Chairman Helen Morris and Sherman will answer questions and clarify the details of the proposal.

"I am sure my board colleagues have questions regarding the upcoming adult education proposal, and we will fully examine and discuss the details before authorizing any changes," Gorsuch said.

Marybeth December 16, 2011 at 12:14 AM
Yet another example of Mr. Sherman's last minute plans with no thought to community impact or involvement.
Leslie Hagan December 16, 2011 at 01:25 AM
Clearly no one in the ACPS has bothered to read any of the evaluations of online learning. If someone had, ACPS would know that online learning (in lieu of classroom teaching) has been a disaster. The test scores of even bright students with every imaginable advantage are in the tank. The only people profiting from online learning are those selling online learning programs to school systems. For the students, these online programs are a snare and a total disappointment. If the school system were to even look at the learning requirements for a basic GED, it would have to ask how can people teach themselves biology, chemistry, physics, algebra, geometry, calculus, grammar, literature, geography, American and world history, statistics, and all the other numerous subjects that go into a high school education without the benefit of a teacher? The answer is, of course, they can't. The same applies to ESL. Having learned 6 languages in my life, I can attest to the fact that to learn a language without the benefit of a teacher's constant presence is impossible. Finally, much is being made by saying that "adult" educations is education up to age 22. What nonsense. First, federal law is what is driving the age 22, not any generosity on the part of the school system. As an ESL teacher, I can tell you that I don't have a single student under the age of 30, most are older.
Nisa Harper December 16, 2011 at 04:57 AM
I attended the School Board Meeting tonight, and something is not adding up correctly. #1. Dr. Henson (Dept Superintendent)stated that they want to "eliminate the racial achievement gaps". Hmmm, really how is it that at my children's school (the NEW Jefferson-Houston) that my 3rd grade son was recieving one paper of homework, and I had to request extra work. Doesn't sound like a school trying to elimnate racial achievement gaps. How is that challenging him or his peers when most of them didn't reach AYP? How is this (NEW Jefferson-Houston) that is getting millions of dollars to renovate, how is this school actively trying to reach parents that are the least involved? Oh, yes they are giving out hot chocolate, and gloves on tuesday at some of the recreation centers. Interesting but I didn't hear of any Jefferson-Houston intensive collaborations with the community centers where the students live. Oh, wait the children can drink hot chocolate before they take a test they aren't prepared for. Got it! #2- As Leslie Hagan stated and it's in the proposal that the NEW ACPS submitted ..Most of the students are over 30...Let me give you ACPS numbers...Adult Education services 682 students..The target age group that ACPS is going to focus on is 15-22 years old...That is 225 students....Guess what age range the other 452 students fall in 25 and older......So, these older students are going to go to a satellite center and take an online class? Get real. Things are not adding up
Linda Kelly December 16, 2011 at 05:21 AM
In her budget report to the City Council in November, School Board Chair Sheryl Gorsuch indicated that ACPS will be looking to close an approximately $17 million budget gap this coming budget year, given projected decreased tax revenues coming from the City and increases in costs driven primarily by health care premium increases and retirement benefits for employees. Unfortunately, everything will be on the table in the coming budget process. I do agree that whatever conversation was held with employees at the Adult Ed Center regarding a Dec. 22nd closing date was the product of someone's poor judgment call and should not have happened the way it did. However, at the end of the day, we all need to be cognizant that there are painful decisions coming down the pike. If we have to choose between cutting educational resources for K-12 students and reducing services for adults over the age of 22--perhaps by limiting some of those services to online instruction--which should ACPS choose?
Nate December 16, 2011 at 01:32 PM
Check out America's Future Workforce, a nonprofit that educates the people who need it the most, the future workforce: www.americasfutureworkforce.org.
Nate December 16, 2011 at 01:32 PM
Check out America's Future Workforce, a nonprofit that educates the people who need it the most, the future workforce: www.americasfutureworkforce.org.
Nate December 16, 2011 at 01:32 PM
Check out America's Future Workforce, a nonprofit that educates the people who need it the most, the future workforce: www.americasfutureworkforce.org.
Nate December 16, 2011 at 01:33 PM
Check out America's Future Workforce, a nonprofit that educates the people who need it the most, the future workforce: www.americasfutureworkforce.org.
Leslie Hagan December 16, 2011 at 02:03 PM
Nate, I did check out www.americasfutureworkforce.org and, while an interesting concept, has nothing to do with the issues at hand. One would need a GED and be able to speak English to have any chance of getting a real job via this organization.
paul December 16, 2011 at 04:49 PM
The leadership within ACPS has created a system in utter disarray. Constant changes to curriculum, micromanaging of classrooms and schools, initiatives often in opposition to other recently created or suggested initiatives, and no clear method for measuring effectiveness or ineffectiveness of programs have turned ACPS on its head. This is one more glaring example of how leadership must change within the school system.

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