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Beginnings of Adult Education in California

Produced in 2005
Sacramento, CA

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 photo.

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 overhead

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 appropriations.

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 children

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.