Correctional Education in California’s Prisons: A Collaboration between California’s Departments of Education and Corrections and Rehabilitation will explore academic and career technical education opportunities for adult learners incarcerated in California’s prisons. Attendees will learn how this unique collaboration is contributing to safer institutions and safer communities, and providing pathways to success for California inmates upon reentry.
Superintendent, Office of Correctional Education
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Biography: Ms. Swain is the Superintendent of the Office of Correctional Education for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which provides educational programs to adult inmates in California’s 35 prisons. She had served as Deputy Superintendent from June, 2014 through October, 2017. Swain was a subject matter expert of correctional education at Synergy Correctional Technology Services from 2012 to 2014, where she worked with the Chilean Ministry of Justice, traveling to Chile to provide instruction in adult learning methodology to Chilean prison wardens. She served in several positions at the CDCR Parolee Educational Programs, operated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education, from 1989 to 2012, including principal, program manager, project coordinator and teacher.
Carolyn Zachry, Ed.D.
Education Administrator/State Director, Adult Education
California Department of Education
Biography: Dr. Zachry is currently the State Director for the Adult Education Office in the Career and College Transition Division (CCTD) at the California Department of Education (CDE). Her office is responsible for administration and management of the federal WIOA Title II grant as well as co-administration of the Adult Education Block Grant. Prior to her time in the Adult Education Office, Dr. Zachry was the administrator for the office with the federal Perkins and state CTE Grants. She was on the team responsible for the revisions to and professional development for the California CTE standards. She is the CDE representative to the Joint Special Populations Advisory Council, the California County Superintendents Education Services Association CTE council, and the president of the executive committee for the National Association for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE).
The California Department of Education’s (CDE) Adult Education programs serve a diverse student population in the nation’s third largest state, including adult immigrants, adults with disabilities, disadvantaged adults, single parents, displaced homemakers and incarcerated adults. One setting that includes adult learners from each of these categories may seem an unlikely place to find bustling, productive classrooms with actively engaged students: Prison. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Office of Correctional Education (OCE) provides academic and career technical education classes to approximately 50,000 students every day, in 35 accredited adult schools. Through an innovative partnership, these two state agencies- CDE and CDCR, are collaborating to offer pathways to success for adults incarcerated in California’s prisons, addressing a variety of reentry needs for California’s returning citizens.
Correctional Education in California’s Prisons: A Collaboration between California’s Departments of Education and Corrections and Rehabilitation will explore the academic and career technical education opportunities for adult learners incarcerated in California’s prisons. In addition to exploring educational programs being offered behind prison walls, attendees will learn how multiple state agencies are collaborating to contribute to pathways to success, addressing a variety of reentry needs for California inmates, over 96% of whom will ultimately be releasing back to their communities. Correctional education is vital to public safety, as this presentation will explain.
The presentation will first assess the audience to identify knowledge of current barriers to successful community reintegration for justice-involved returning citizens. As the Director of Adult Education for the State of California, Dr. Carolyn Zachry is uniquely qualified to share with the audience the various ways that CDE is supporting adult students in California. She will discuss the Adult Education Block Grant and the creation of regional consortia of adult schools and community colleges collaborating to meet student needs across the state of California. She will also share how CDE supports incarcerated adult students through federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) Title II funding as well as through federal Carl Perkins funding, supplementing CDCR programs to improve student learning. As Superintendent of the Office of Correctional Education for CDCR, Shannon Swain will detail the various academic and career technical programs provided inside California’s 35 distinct adult schools, each located inside a different California prison. She will share details about the three tenets of the Student Success Initiative, including the development of professional learning communities, training on data-informed decision making, and the development of a new model for communicating with inmate students, Transformative Correctional Communication, which emphasizes a new approach for communicating with student inmates to avoid manipulation and increase student engagement.
The presenters will provide examples of how WIOA Title II funds are being leveraged to enhance professional development opportunities for CDCR teachers and administrators, through California Adult Literacy Professional Development Project (CALPRO), which provides workshops and learning institutes to adult education teachers across California. They will share how the Outreach and Technical Assistance Network (OTAN) and the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS) also support student learning and teacher development for Correctional Education teachers in California prisons, OTAN through its innovative web based instructional and student support resources for adult educators, and CASAS through its competency-based assessment and instructional resources. The presenters will include handouts for attendees that provide references and relevant web links. Their focus on the use of effective strategies for adult learners is grounded in adult learning and will therefore involve relevant examples rooted in practical application.
While academic and career technical education classes are available in prison classrooms, career pathways are not the only area of need for inmate students. Student social and emotional health are vital to their success, both during their incarceration and ultimately throughout their transition back to their communities. Effective correctional educators emphasize and model the development of healthy habits for a more holistic approach to health. In addition to academic and career technical education programs, OCE provides recreational and leisure activities through the provision of coaches who teach physical fitness courses, organize chess and Scrabble© and other board game tournaments, and provide access to positive leisure time pursuits.
Justice-involved students transitioning into their communities often face new technologies with which they may be unfamiliar. It is therefore important that correctional education provide access to and instruction in these emerging technologies. The presentation will include an overview of how computers and electronic devices are being used for academic assessment and instruction inside California prisons, and explore the development and implementation of eLearning and internet-protocol television initiatives that are providing access to new technology for students.
Finally, it is important to note that this proposed presentation aligns with each of the conference strands. Certainly the strand of “best practices for equitable learning environments” applies, given the high needs of the inmate students. Increasing access and equity in CTE and STEM seems appropriate, given the exploration of the 20 different CTE courses available, as does Building a Diverse Workforce, given the emphasis on competency-based education and the development of pre-apprenticeship programs. A case could be made for Equitable Leadership Practices, given the focus on institutional change and leadership development underway in the prison system. Finally, Public Policy-Supporting equity and education also seems a likely fit, as the California Departments of Education and Corrections and Rehabilitation collaborate to bring high quality, engaging, and effective academic and career technical education programs to California’s prison inmates, improving possibilities for successful community transition while simultaneously promoting correctional institution and public safety.