39Reasons: Reason#20 Adult Ed

This story is among the #39Reasons I am running as a Trustee for Vancouver School Board (VSB). Each story is based on my experience working at the VSB for over 7 years.

Monday night, mid-winter and we had 1.5 hours left before the library would close

It was already dark outside, but it was the only time she could meet, while her siblings finished up swimming she had a chance to tackle some of the barriers she was facing

She sat with a level of calm you wouldn’t expect from someone with two full-time jobs that run her from 9am to 11pm almost every night of the week at $10.00/hour – but she needed to do this to help out with rent

I sat beside her and asked her what was going on, why she wanted to meet and how I could help her

“It’s my third time trying to finish English 12 at adult ed”

I knew she was trying to graduate, but I had no idea this was her third time trying

She went on to explain that the hours were restrictive and she needed to be available for work during the day at least and that she could attend classes at night, but the offerings were not structured that way

She used to live closer to one of the last adult ed centres in the city, but her housing was being renovated so they had to move and that meant that the adult centre was now on the other side of the city

At the same time, it was recommended she try self-paced classes despite the fact that she knew she learned best when with others and when guided by a skilled educator when she could ask questions

She tried, and she failed

So she got a different job, working nights and swapping childcare responsibilities with her parents as they modified their schedules too

She embarked on the third attempt to finish English 12

She got assignments and made her best effort to complete tasks by taking out books from the public library and reading between commutes, using the library computers and her phone to complete and submit the required work

It wasn’t enough, the effort to mend together a structured routine without access to the necessities like technology made it too much of a hurdle

She was feeling okay about it, almost through the 9-week program when she received an assignment back and was told that she was the weakest student in the class

She was crushed and had no relationship to the educator to express her situation or the fact that she has specific needs as a learner

The closure of adult ed centres is resulting in learners being excluded from education 

We need to speak up and be heard we need to listen and share the values and realities of our students in the structures of learning that we create, modify, change, and dismantle 

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