Strengthening California’s Adult Education System Means Targeting Local Needs

California’s adult education system is a vital resource for millions of low- and middle-income individuals, helping them obtain the basic knowledge and skills necessary to advance in their careers and actively participate in civic life. The Senate Committee on Education and the Assembly Committee on Higher Education recently held a joint informational hearing to discuss the future of California’s adult education system and the challenges that many adults in need of additional skills face in climbing the economic ladder.

CBP Executive Director Chris Hoene testified on the importance of a robust adult education system for local economies, and he provided the committees with county-level data on poverty, educational attainment, and English-language proficiency. These data offer different ways of thinking about how California’s adult education system can better help the people it serves and help regional economies grow and prosper.  The data on English-language proficiency and educational attainment are presented below, while the data on poverty was highlighted in a previous blog post.


(Educational Attainment table with full county data and map — PDF)

(English Language Proficiency table with full county data and map — PDF)

These data highlight the importance of California’s adult education system to local needs. Specifically:

  • Some California counties need to focus on adult education services for English learners. While adult education is often tailored to adults without a high school degree, a significant share of these students are also English-language learners. In some parts of California roughly a third of adults could be classified as English learners, meaning they speak English less than “very well.”
  • Investing in education is a key strategy to promote economic growth in a region, and a robust adult education system should be part of that strategy. The alarmingly high rates of poverty in many California counties underscore the need for investments in workers’ skills and education. Some regions may want to make significant investments in their adult education system as a way to promote long-term economic growth.

You can view the entire testimony, including a more detailed discussion of the data that was presented to the committees, here.

— Luke Reidenbach

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