About > History of CCAE > CCAE: A Complete History

CCAE: A Complete History

It has been well documented that the first class for adults was held in the basement of St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco in 1856. The class was sponsored by the San Francisco Board of Education in response to the large number of immigrants from Ireland, Italy and China that had settled in the town. Elementary level and vocational classes were the subjects taught. The classes were originally taught by volunteers, and other expenses were covered by the school district out of their general education funds.

The idea of classes for adults caught on, and by 1900 they were held in most of the major communities in the state. But complete acceptance and funding of adult evening schools took many years to accomplish. An important step occurred in 1902 when legislation was passed to allow the development of public high schools. This was the beginning of free public education in California for students beyond the elementary level. Five years later, the State Supreme Court allowed that evening high schools that served adults fell into the high school category could exist and receive its own and separate state apportionments.

In 1919 the office of Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction in charge of Americanization programs was created. This was the first formal position in the Department that dealt directly with adult programs. The teaching of English and government to immigrants, called Americanization, had become a large and important function of evening high schools and creation of this post was recognition of this fact.

Finally, when the State Department of Education was reorganized in 1927, the Division of Adult Education was created which truly addressed adult education needs. (For a more complete description of the early years of adult education in California, refer to Meeting the Challenge: A History of Adult Education From the Beginnings to the Twenty-first Century by Linda West, available from the CDE Press.)

The early growth and development of adult education support groups, such as CCAE, has not been completely documented. We do know that a support group called the California Association for Adult Education (CAAE) was formed in 1926 to promote the goals of adult education and CAAE, and functioning continued until 1937. During the 1930’s the California Teachers Association (CTA) and George C. Mann, Chief of the Division of Adult Education with the Department of Education, combined to successfully fight back attacks to close adult education classes.

Dr. Mann was Chief of the Division from 1934 to 1956, and he is generally credited as being the driving force behind the founding of the California Council for Adult Education during the school year of 1943–44. However, many others were also involved when Dr. Mann was called into active service duty during World War II and served in the Navy until 1945. It is reasonable to expect that he continued to have a strong influence over the Adult Education Division, and very well could have spent some of his time in Sacramento. However, we need to give credit to Leo James, Dr. Mann’s chief assistant, who developed the goals and purpose of CCAE, E. Manfred Evans, from LAUSD, who continued Mann’s work in promoting the new organization, and Guy Garrand and Louise Heyl who were instrumental during the early days of formation, and both later served as CCAE State Presidents. (Thanks to Virginia Donnellan for her input.) 

Finally, we have never fully resolved whether:

1. CCAE was an outgrowth of the earlier organization CAAE

2. There was no connection between the two organizations.

3. Most likely, during the seven years between the demise of CAAE and the founding of CCAE, there had been a continuing effort to replace the earlier organization with one that had new focus and stronger grassroots support.

The main thrust for forming CCAE was the need to have some grassroots support for Dr. Mann and the Adult Education Division in working with the legislatures when they were pushing for positive legislation for adult education. If local adult education administrators could work with legislators in the local areas, and personalize the needs of adult education, then we could have greater success gaining their support in Sacramento. Professional Development was also an issue that needed addressing.

During the 1940’s and 1950’s CCAE was referred to simply as “the Council”. The use of the letters CCAE to designate our organization first appeared in the January, 1962 edition of the Council News, forerunner of the Communicator. The use of the script CCAE that we currently use as our logo first appeared in the summer, 1974 issue of the Communicator.

Dr. Mann was the first Executive Director of CCAE, and he continued for about a dozen years in the duel role of CCAE Executive Director and Chief of the Bureau of Adult Education. His role in founding CCAE and guiding it through the early years cannot be minimized. Without his efforts there would be no CCAE, and adult education would most certainly not been as successful over the years as it has. In 1956 Dr. Mann retired from the Bureau and as Executive Director. It is interesting to note that his successor, Stanley Sworder, continued the tradition of serving in both capacities. So, there has always been a strong link between our organization and the Department.

When CCAE was formed, there were six geographic areas or sections. However, the sections were quite different geographically in 1944 from the current day.

The six sections were:
1. Northern Section (Centered on the City of Sacramento)
2. Northern Coast Section (Centered on the City of Eureka)
3. Bay Section (Centered on the area around San Francisco Bay)
4. Central Section (Centered the area from Bakersfield to Fresno in the Central Valley)
5. Central Coast Section (Centered on the City of Monterey)
6. Southern Section (all of what is now the Southern, LA Metro and South Coast Sections).

As you can see, there have been many changes in the structure of CCAE over the years. Neither the Northern Coast nor Central Coast Section had enough adult education schools of sufficient size in their areas to sustain sections, although they both existed as section for over twenty years with limited membership. The Central Coast Section requested to merge with the Bay Section in 1965, and the North Coast Section followed in 1970.

At the same time, the number and size of adult schools was increasing along with the population in the southern part of the state until it became apparent that reorganization was needed. On March 21, 1969, the CCAE State Board approved a plan to split the Southern Section into two sections .The counties of San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial continued as the Southern Section. The counties of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Inyo formed the new South Coast Section. A lavish double installation was held at the Del Coronado Hotel in the San Diego area on November 8, 1969.

The next reorganization of sections occurred in 1986 when the South Coast Section divided and the new Los Angeles Metropolitan Section was formed. The LA Metro Section consisted of all of the schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District and other independent adult schools on the west side of Los Angeles County. The South Coast Section retained the rest of the former section.

Originally the organization kept its records in the offices and homes of the State President or the Executive Director, and on occasion, in car trunks. For many years the Los Angeles Unified School District's (LAUSD) adult education division hosted CCAE in a room at its 3rd Street administrative offices in Los Angeles. The room had a couple of filing cabinets for CCAE and once a month the room was the site of South Coast Section meetings. The South Coast Section at that time included what is currently the LA Metro, South Coast, and Southern Sections. The State CCAE Board rotated its meetings around various locations in the state.

CCAE lost its use of the 3rd Street office in the early 1980's and was homeless for a while. The South Coast Section met at different schools and the State Board met wherever the Executive Director Len Bush could find a location.

In 1989 the Outreach and Technical Network (OTAN) began at the Hacienda La Puente Adult Education (HLPAE) program. OTAN rented space in Sacramento near to the California Department of Education (CDE) office. Tom Johnson of HLPAE allowed CCAE Executive Director Mara Stein to set up the CCAE office there, and Angie Knott provided secretarial services for both organizations.

Four years later CCAE moved to its own office in the Fruit Building at 3rd and L Streets in Sacramento where it remained until the office was closed in 2010, with Angie remaining as the secretary until her retirement in 2007. In 2010, when the office closed, its functions were divided into General Operations under Executive Director Steve Prantalos, Financial functions under CCAE Financial Manager Chesty Peterson, and Membership functions went to Bonney Business Services. (Thanks to Past State President Holda Dorsey for the above information.)

In 2004, during major revisions of the CCAE Constitution and Bylaws, the following adjustments were made.

The independent adult schools in Los Angeles, especially the western portion of the county, were allowed to join either the LA Metro or South Coast Sections as per their choice.

Orange County was placed with the South Coast Section because of the proximity of the two large adult schools, Garden Grove and Huntington Beach, to the core of the South Coast Section...

Inyo was placed with the Southern Section because of the proximity to San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.

That brings us to the current geographical configuration of CCAE since 1986 to the present which includes the following sections.

• Bay Section
• Central Section
• LA Metro Section
• Northern Section
• South Coast Section
• Southern Section

This information was included to provide an historical perspective of CCAE and to illustrate the point that the structural organization of CCAE has not been static, but has grown and changed in response to many different factors. Since CCAE has grown in both size and importance over the years, it suggests that some wise decisions relative to change were made along the way by the CCAE leadership.