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A Santa wish list for adult education
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Editor, the Bulletin;
Dear Santa,
Could you please bring the Manteca/Ripon/Lathrop (“ManRipRop”) area a creative future for post-secondary education? You know, in order to fill critical gaps that come after high school and before college, and in the abyss after a worker’s layoff notice: a future of job skills training.

Things are bleak, Santa. At the start of this school year, one of my classmates at Manteca Adult School drove to Consumnes River College near Sacramento to enroll in medical billing and terminology classes, and entry into a healthcare program. A current MAS classmate just completed a billing/coding class in Santa Clara. They demonstrate, literally, our drive to learn new job skills.

Santa, you must be enormously proud of Manteca Adult School. My classmates and I certainly are grateful. This vital enterprise wages a heroic effort against what feels like a crushing tide of policymaker inability, ignorance or neglect.

When it comes to gifts, though, we’ve seen two: Manteca plans to build more houses and retail stores. These are gifts to developers. And surely Manteca Unified has future school site plans. So, where are future plans for public adult education? Can older workers in this area learn new job skills without piling up debt at a for-profit vocational school? Do city leaders hope us old fogeys acquiesce to becoming retail door greeters?

I’m sorry this doesn’t sound very Ho-Ho-Ho, Santa. You see, zoning plans already are set, and projected revenues plotted and coveted.

Our future as described by the Bulletin is a 100-mile mass of booming economic success. In a mega-colossus of houses and stores, where will adults learn new job skills? Will ManRipRop pulsate as a center of higher education? Will we be a debt-laden puddle of pricey vocational schools? Are we doomed to continue flushing post-high school, post-college residents to classes in Tracy, Stockton, Modesto and Livermore?

Santa, can you please bring gifts of wisdom and foresight to MUSD and RUSD, and Manteca, Ripon and Lathrop city leaders? Can you open their minds maybe to cooperative projects with CSU-Stanislaus, UOP, Delta College, Modesto Junior College, and even UC Berkeley?

Higher education is a grand gift, Santa. Now may jolly well be the best time to deliver it. (Pssst! If you can leave some copier paper for Manteca Adult School’s staff, I bet they will appreciate it.)

Warmest regards,

 Cindy Peterson
Dec. 10, 2009