Wednesday, February 04, 2009

10 000 Letter Project, OACE at the Capitol

At the beginning of 2009 Suzanne Ludlum organized a letter writing campaign, titled 10 000 Letters Project, with the goal to inform and educate California legislators on the importance of adult education. Here’s the project description in as presented in the cover letter to the 3 000 letters a group of OACE learners and teachers brought to California Capitol on February 4 2009.

“In Oakland Adult and Career Education (OACE), thousands of students have heard that the California Legislature is considering a proposal that could divert funds away from Adult Education.

Fearing that such a proposal could dismantle the programs that help them better their lives and support their families and communities, students came together with their teachers to launch the 10,000 Letters Project. This ten-day campaign asked OACE students to reflect on why adult education classes are so important to them and how their classes have opened doors for them as parents, workers, and community members.

As of February 4, 2009 – students have generated a little over 3,000 letters – quite an accomplishment in such a short period.

Today we are bringing these letters directly to the State Capitol to ask our legislators NOT to include Adult Education among the categorical programs in the flexibility proposal now under consideration in the Legislature. This proposal presents a profound threat to the Adult Education delivery system here in California.

We understand the dramatic, unprecedented budget crisis we are now facing requires cuts in programs across the board. However, Adult Education students believe the classes they attend make a big difference in their children’s lives (thereby supporting the K-12 system).

Because of the vital importance of Adult Education programs to California’s low-income, literacy-challenged, and most vulnerable and disenfranchised communities, we are asking legislators to reject this flexibility proposal.”

These are quotes from the cover letter:

Adult Education in California has a long history (150 years) of serving our neediest families with parent education, workforce development, high school, diploma, GED preparation, ESL, citizenship, independent living programs for older and disabled adults, and other educational
programs. Where will they go?
— Suzanne Ludlum, 10,000 Letters Project Organizer

Adult Education students need to learn English for their future in this country.

It is important that older adults have these classes to keep us thinking and moving.

I am building my job skills in this class so I can return to the workforce again.

The group consisted of:
  • Osea Carmona, learner
  • Victoria Angel, learner
  • Maria Neria, learner
  • Erica Ramos, learner
  • Jordan Lancaster, learner
  • Pat Shoeder, teacher
  • Gaylynne Hudson, teacher
  • Suzanne Ludlum, teacher

Among the Legislature Members they visited were the office of senator Darrell Steinberg and Oakland’s 16th District Assemblymember, Sandre R. Swanson. They did not get to meet the first one, but in Swanson’s office they were greeted by Douglas Maclean, his Communications Director, who sat with the group for a long time and listened to their concerns.

And here are the group’s reactions after the visit to the Capitol.
Older adults are working longer and needing skills (for example, computer/tech skills). They need to stay healthy, thereby lowering health care costs. Adults with disabilities are learning daily living and job skills that support their living as independently as possible in the community.
— Patt Schroeder, OACE Adults with Disabilities Program
People have the choice to be considerate of the needs of the needy or not. “To be or not to be” has been replaced with “do we care or do we not care.” It’s ironic to live in a world filled with color, but where everything is seen only as black and white issues. At the end of the day, character decides our future. Do what is right!
— Jordon Lancaster, CNA Graduate 2009 (Edward Shands Adult School)
I was so impressed how eloquently my students expressed themselves today. They spoke from their hearts about how they want to help their children.
— Gaylynne Hudson, OACE CBET Program
Following are photos taken during that day:

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