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Hundreds protest plan to eliminate L.A. Unified adult classes

January 31, 2012 |  5:24 pm

Adult Education Protest

About 300 adult education students rallied near downtown Tuesday afternoon, protesting a plan by Los Angeles Unified School District officials to slash the district’s entire adult education budget.

Hundreds of students, teachers and supporters gathered in front of Evans Community Adult School in Chinatown, one of 30 adult schools in the district.

Demonstrators chanted “save our schools” and held signs in a variety of languages in support of the programs. Some held a large banner that read “Save Adult Education” while repeatedly crossing the street, shouting “Si se puede!”

In a proposal presented to the school board last month, no money was budgeted for the district’s adult education programs, effectively eliminating them. The proposed cuts come as L.A. Unified is under pressure to pare next year’s budget by more than $500 million.

Colleen Hernandez, who teaches English as a second language courses at the school, said many of her students enroll to gain language skills to find jobs, integrate themselves in the community or to earn a GED high school equivalency diploma.

And other students simply want to learn enough English to help their children -– many of whom go to L.A. Unified schools — with their homework.

“This is a community that is threatened and doesn’t really have a voice,” Hernandez said. “There is no protection for them at all.”

Carmen Garcia, 28, immigrated to the United States just over a year ago from Venezuela after marrying a United States citizen. She is taking high-school level English courses at Evans.

Her 9-year-old daughter attends Felton Elementary, a L.A. Unified School. Often, her daughter asks her to help with homework, but Garcia sometimes struggles to grasp the material herself.

“I need to help my daughter,” she said. “But children, they are like a sponge, she picked up the language quickly.”

Principal Danette Roe rejected the idea that the proposed demise of the programs was a tactic to place pressure on state lawmakers to restore or divert funds to save the classes.

“I don’t believe that this is a ploy now,” she said. “They have to make these cuts. It’s a real thing.”

At about 1 p.m., the crowd of demonstrators began to thin. Many of the students had class to attend.

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-- Stephen Ceasar

Photo: Students cross Figueroa Street (at Sunset) outside the Evans Community Adult School in Los Angeles on Jan. 31, 2012. They were protesting the closing of adult education in Los Angeles. Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times

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