Tuesday, January 16, 2001

City schools dropping adult programs

District says programs too small, costly

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Public Schools is getting out of the adult education business this summer.

        A nursing program will be phased out, adult literacy classes will be moved into elementary schools and use grant funds, and the district plans to sell a West End facility that once housed as many as six programs for adults.

        The programs are too small and costly, district officials say.

        But some members of the Board of Education say the district is still responsible for providing the services and should consider how to serve the entire community.

        Board member Catherine Ingram maintains that for the district to do its job, it must ensure that students' parents and families are assessed, trained and counseled on a thorough basis.

        “This is about helping those kids, and ensuring that their parents can help them,” Ms. Ingram said.

        “How do you talk to me about family and what the community, students and parents need and then not offer this?” Ms. Ingram said.

        The district's nursing program, housed at the Queen City Career Center in the West End, is the most recent to be canceled. Once those now enrolled graduate in July, the program will no longer exist.

        Judy Weber, a nursing in structor for 18 years, said there are 40 nursing students expected to graduate.

        After that, she said, she's not sure what will happen.

        The district's associate superintendent, Kathleen Ware, said the district will offer adult basic literacy classes through its $970,000 ABLE grant. It hopes to make the literacy classes part of each school's family literacy programs.

        “This will be helpful to us in achieving our mission to educate children and have the parents in the schools,” Ms. Ware said.

        This means that two adult literacy classes now offered at the Queen City Career Center will be moved into schools.

        The district then hopes to lease the Queen City facility, Ms. Ware said.

        The Queen City Center once held classes in child care, nursing, building and plant maintenance, clerical, adult literacy and GED preparation.

        But such adult education is now offered by others, in cluding Great Oaks Institute of Technology and Career Development and Cincinnati State Technical College.

        A previous attempt by Superintendent Steven Adamowski to hand over the district's adult education programs to Great Oaks was turned back by the board. But Cliff Migal, Great Oaks president, said the school is now working with the 52 students scheduled to start nursing classes through Cincinnati's program.

        The school will allow the students to enroll in classes and will add additional classes to meet demand, Mr. Migal said. It is also studying the feasibility of starting a nursing academy in the downtown area.

        Still, several Cincinnati Board of Education members and the leadership of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers think adult education is part of the school district's job.

        Member Florence Newell said the options should be expanded, not eliminated.

        “Kids will perform better in schools when they have parents who are educated,” Ms. Newell said. “And some are adults who went through CPS and didn't get what they needed and they deserve a second chance.”

        Cincinnati Federation of Teachers President Rick Beck said the district could serve more people if it offered adult education.

        “Where it's practical and works, we should do it. But it really takes a commitment and some management skills to make sure those things happen the right way,” Mr. Beck said. “The district is short on those things.”

        Board president Rick Williams said the board will definitely discuss its role in adult education this year.

        “One of the things we have learned about the past is that we did not provide a comprehensive education program in adult education,” Mr. Williams said. “It is not our main mission, but that does not mean we don't have a role.”


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