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The California Adult Education Program serves state and national interests by providing life-long educational opportunities and support services to all adults. Adult Education programs address the unique and evolving needs of individuals and communities by providing adults with the knowledge and skills necessary to participate effectively as productive citizens, workers, and family members.

  • 1856: The first adult evening school opened in the basement of St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco. The first teacher was John Swett who later went on to become California's fourth Superintendent of Public Instruction.
    • In those days, most students were from Ireland, Italy, or China. Subjects taught included Elementary Level Education, English and Vocational subjects such as Drafting and Bookkeeping.
  • 1917: Legislation authorized regular day high schools to maintain special day and evening classes for people 18 and over.
  • 1921: Legislation required high school districts to offer Americanization classes when requested by 25 or more people. This became the first mandated area for adult education and is still in effect.
  • 1926: The Department of Parent Education was formed at the California State Department of Education.
  • 1933: During the Depression, vocational training programs were further developed by the State Emergency Relief Administration, and evening high schools were organized for the Civilian Conservation Corps.
  • 1941: Enrollment expands due to the need for national defense classes, military training programs, and pre-employment training classes.
  • 1950's: AE continues to grow in both secondary school districts and junior college districts. More classes became available during evenings and weekends.
  • 1968: Junior colleges were removed from the State Board of Education's governance and placed in a separate section of the Education Code of California law.
  • 1978: Proposition 13 (property tax reform initiative) was passed by CA voters.
    • Mandated program areas became capped, and enrollment statewide decreased. At the same time, enrollment increased for community interest enrichment programs.
  • 1988: Proposition 98 mandated a priority for providing adequate funds for education. The state department established an AE Advisory Committee that developed the Strategic Plan to Meet CA Adult Education Needs.
  • 1993: The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing adopted standards for a Designated Subjects credential for AE (two levels).
  • 1998: Congress passed the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998, including the AE and Family Literacy Act, which provided adult programs with additional funding based on meeting federal accountability requirements. CA created a Workforce Investment Board to plan and coordinate employment and training initiatives.
  • 2005: California Department of Education (formerly called State Dept. of Education) revised AE mandated areas to six from what previously was ten areas.
  • 2006: Adult Education celebrates its 150th anniversary
  • 2016: Opening of Pleasanton Adult & Career Education (PACE)
  • 2016: ESL evening classes began on Feb. 16
  • 2018: The first graduation for diploma and HiSET students took place on June 27