Beginnings of Adult Education in California
Produced in 2005
Introduction music with sesquicentennial logo pictured; Bridges to
Success for 150 Years; golden California state outline with bridge
on blue circle.
Narrator: Adult education in California
is a proud system, with a history of being responsive to community, state
and national needs.
Description: California Adult Education
– One Hundred Fifty Years title page: Female adult education teacher
pictures applauding her students; female teacher looking over students
work in classroom; adult education classroom with teacher tossing book
to student; vocational education class (hairstylists) pictured, cutting
hair, as instructor observes; student pictured in black cap and gown
with arms spread; audience applause.
Music lyrics: San Francisco, open your golden gates… Pen and ink drawing
of San Francisco in 1800s pictured.
Narrator: The first recorded adult
school in California was sponsored by the San Francisco Board of Education
in 1856. Evening classes were taught in the basement of Old St. Mary's Church.
Description: Old photo of church pictured.
Narrator: Then, like now, many students
were immigrants … in those days, Irish, Italian, and Chinese.
Description: Three photos featuring: 1.
Irish immigrants wearing black bowler hats; 2. Chinese immigrants working
on railroad holding tools; and 3. Italian immigrants posing for group
Narrator: Subjects included adult literacy
and vocational subjects, such as drafting and bookkeeping.
John Swett, one of the first volunteer teachers at St. Mary’s, and principal
at Lincoln School from 1868 to 71, convinced the board to make the school tuition
free, beginning another enduring tradition.
Description: Photo of young, bearded man
with longish hair; drawing of Lincoln Grammar School pictured, a large
three-story building, with horse and buggy in front and flag flying
Narrator: In the last half of the century,
evening schools were established in other large cities, such as Sacramento,
Oakland, San Jose, and Los Angeles. By the turn of the century, evening
schools were well established as "Americanization Centers."
Description: photo showing Americanization Center,
large two-story building.
Narrator: In 1907, the State Supreme Court ruled that "evening
schools" could exist as separate legal entities entitled to share state
In 1910, a provision was added to the state constitution that required the
legislature to first set aside funds for the support of the public school
system. The concept of free public education had come of age, and adult
education was a part of it.
In 1914, the four-hour minimum day for a school sharing state funds became
accepted. Evening high schools became common in the smaller cities in the
state—Fresno, Long Beach, San Mateo, Pasadena, Pomona, Santa Monica, Alhambra…
Description: Slide showing timeline: 1907 – Evening
School; 1910 – First set aside funds; 1914 – Four-hour minimum day
Description: Old photo of evening school classroom,
all men sitting at desks, all with books, chalkboards on every wall,
and the teacher standing, book in hand, teaching the class.
Narrator: Mary Gibson, a member of the California Commission
on Immigration and Housing, became interested in educating the foreign born
woman as a key step in the Americanization of her family.
Description: Photos of Mary Gibson, elderly woman
with white hair; photo of immigrant woman, her husband and her nine
Narrator: As a result of Mrs. Gibson's efforts,
The Home Teacher Act, was signed into law by Governor Hiram Johnson in 1915.
The program was a precursor to today's Independent Study.
Description: Slide showing timeline: 1915 – The Home
Teacher Act; 1919 – Part-time Education Act
Narrator: Another key piece of legislation was the Part Time
Education Act of 1919, which mandated continuation education for minors
and basic education classes for adults. Veterans returning from World War
I had new ideas regarding the value of education.
Description: Photo of World War I veterans marching
in parade all wearing uniforms and carrying weapons while men watched
from the sideline wearing straw hats.