By Marty Stockard – former GED teacher Vallejo Adult School
As the school district with the lowest graduation rate in the county, Vallejo has an obligation to not only increase the high school graduation rate, but also to provide a better “second chance” to its citizens as an investment in the city’s future. Therefore the District cannot afford to concentrate only on the K-12 students. Many students “wake up and smell the coffee” after they turn 18, realizing that at a minimum they need a high school education or equivalent, a GED.
After 13 years of being committed to my GED students while teaching in the Vallejo Adult, I find the District’s lack of support, lack of interest, and lack of communication disheartening. All of this has come about since the death of our principal, Paul Jacobs, in February 2013.
Shortly after his death the District began to dismantle classes given at the Adult School. There were many speakers at school board meetings, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Presently, the classes offered are a mere skeleton of what used to be available. A few of the classes were “farmed out” to GVRD, but many of them just ceased to be. When the teachers tried to coalesce, heads rolled. The name was also changed from the Vallejo Adult School to Vallejo Regional Education Center with Harper Rand offering some for-profit certification classes.
For a while we coasted along, offering fewer and fewer classes. It became extremely difficult for a student to earn a high school diploma because there were so few relevant classes offered. Since March 2014 the Adult School has been “led” by an administrator located in the District office on Mare Island, communicating through the school’s office manager. This administrator is seldom on site and does not always answer emails or phone messages in a timely manner.
In June of this year, we met with the Assistant Superintendent and were told that we would be moving our location because a charter school needed our Tennessee Street building. At that meeting there were a number of reasons given for the move, not one reason was presented in favor of the Adult School. In fact, the move to the old Davidson Elementary School on Del Sur Street in the Beverley Hills neighborhood of Vallejo is much more difficult for students to get to than the centrally located Tennessee Street location. In addition, we were told that the move would be during the one week break between the Adult School spring and summer terms so that the charter school would have all summer to prepare their new site.
The move was accomplished but the school on Del Sur was filthy and in some cases trashed. The Adult School teachers brought cleaning supplies from home and worked through the weekend in order to open classes the first day of summer, June 23.
School opened and there was NO copy machine. (The district leases copy machines and the owners of the machines need to be the ones to move the machines.) We kept hearing that it would be “soon” according to the Mare Island administrator. Over 2 weeks AFTER the move, our office manager finally called the person in charge of actually ordering the move and the response was: “Oh, did the Adult School move?”
Over the years many people have worked tirelessly to promote and maintain the Adult School’s quality offerings. These efforts have met with the District’s increasing apathy and disinterest. I find the District’s callous disregard for the adult students, the faculty, staff and the public astonishing.
I have resigned, but have been clear to my students that I am not abandoning them. They have my email address and my promise to meet them at the library to help them acquire the necessary skills to pass the four GED tests whenever they need me.
I urge the voters of Vallejo to question the School Board candidates about their commitment to including adult education in the mission of the Vallejo City Unified School District. We cannot afford to ignore those many students that have attended Vallejo schools and did not graduate.