CCAE History–Celebrating 75 Years

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As we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the California Council for Adult Education (CCAE), I think it's appropriate to take a look back at a bit of our history.

The early growth and development of adult education support groups, such as CCAE, has not been well documented. We do know however, that a support group called the California Association for Adult Education (CAAE) was formed in 1926 to promote the goals of adult education and it continued to function until 1937. Because of the seven year time lapse, it has never been fully determined whether or not there was a connection between CAAE and CCAE. We do know however, that in 1944, George C. Mann was the Chief of the Bureau of Adult Education (now the Adult Education Office, California Department of Education) and that he is credited as the driving force behind the founding of the California Council for Adult Education during the 1943-1944 school year. In addition, he served as the first Executive Director of CCAE.

The main purpose for forming CCAE was the need to have some grassroots support for Dr. Mann and the Adult Education Division in working with the legislature 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.

Several other educators have been recognized as contributing to the early organization of CCAE. Leo James, assistant to Dr. Mann, worked on the goals and purposes of the organization. E. Manfred Evans, from Los Angeles, continued the work for Mann when the Chief of the Bureau was called into service for the Navy during World War II, and Guy Garrard and Louise Heyl, who were both leaders in adult education in the 1940's and later became CCAE presidents, were instrumental in organizing and promoting CCAE around the state.

As mentioned above, 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 have been as successful as it has been over the years. 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 CCAE and the Department.

Next month: The Structure of CCAE

This information was condensed from the CCAE State Leadership Handbook, 2018-2019. Most of the information was researched by Steve Prantalos (Executive Director, 1999-2013) and Virginia Donnellan, (President, 1995-1996).