Suburban adult education programs in the 1960's.
Excerpt from an interview with:
THEODORE H. ZIMMERMAN by LINDA L. WEST
December 13, 1992
Bermuda Dunes, California
When I went there the adult education program was 242 units of a.d.a., and we
were still in that time span I mentioned, the golden years, where if you had an
idea you could offer the program. In fact, the superintendent that hired me was
aware of some of the things going on in the state in the way of the growth and
serving of adults and so on, also in vocational education, so he was very
supportive to anything that I was trying to do.
Of course, one of the things we did immediately was to find a location to hold
classes. There was a condemned junior high school that the district didn't know
what to do with, and, of course, as an adult educator I think you learn this
one quick, and that's that the law exempts adults from those same requirements
that are placed on K-12 schools for meeting earthquake requirements, as long as
you post a sign warning them that the building does not meet those standards.
And so we took over that junior high on a temporary basis, but at least it gave
us a place to hold classes, and within one year we went from 240 units to …
I think over 560 or something. We more than doubled.
What were the kinds of classes that you were offering that were so
English as a Second Language [ESL], medical office preparation, secretarial
training. We organized them on a merry-go-round or carousel concept. In one
room one teacher could have with an aide probably forty or fifty students, one
of them working on filing, a group working on filing, another one working on
typing skills, another one working on adding machines. In those days we didn't
have computers, but we had various stations, and the notion was that a person
could kind of get on and off of those like horses on a carousel, depending on
how much need they had or whether they had any need at all. But they could get
on the carousel, ride as many horses as they wanted to for as long as they
wanted to, and get off anytime they wanted to, to go out and go to work or go
back to a job or go to a better job.
And other kinds of programs that we offered had to do … We did a lot of
forums and lecture series on pertinent issues at the time, local kinds of
political issues. Gosh, we took the homemaking department and turned it into a
real service to the homemaker, in terms … not just knitting, but we did a
great many things in clothing making, clothing construction, clothing
construction for teenagers, clothing construction for the elementary age
students. And these were young, newlywed, striving American families in that
community that needed those kinds of opportunities to improve their lot. If
mother could make the clothes for kids and go to school, that's a savings to
them. It's like mother going to work. Often many of the women came in and
learned how to do that and did it for other people and made money while they
were in their home.
It took on another direction, in the sense it was more product-ended and
directed in terms of the kinds of courses, rather than just what … The
statistics years ago used to show as the reason why people took adult education
classes was the social environment and opportunity it provided for them. That
may to some extent still exist, but it's also interesting to note that the
enrollments in adult education classes go up significantly when times are
tough. Americans believe in the notion that education is the bridge to getting
"my piece of the pie."