Editorial: Adult ed and 'fake news'

What is “fake news”? We’ve discussed the topic ad nauseam at the national level, but the question hit home at last week’s Los Altos City Council meeting.

It seems word got out that there would be no room in the rebuilt Hillview Community Center for adult-education classes. This triggered a sizable number of residents who attended the meeting – many of them adult-ed students – to lament the prospect and plead with the city to keep their classes intact.

Councilman Jean Mordo had news for the concerned adult-ed backers. “It’s fake news,” he said, emphasizing that the classes are not going away. Mordo had Manny Hernandez, the city’s recreation and community services director, explain to the crowd that classes would continue, even as officials are dealing with less classroom space than before.

One resident, however, waved a copy of an email from the adult-education director that indicated to her that the classes would not return.

Hernandez offered to provide context. He said he met with Mountain View Los Altos Adult Education representatives in April about not having space during construction. “Keep in mind, it was April,” he said, “so I had no idea what the new community center would look like. I told them that their return to the community center was still unknown at this time. I did not say they would not be coming back.”

Hernandez added that he has since been involved in the center’s overhaul process, and while preliminary plans show less classroom space, he is confident that the city can continue adult-education classes. “We know this is a very important part of our programming for adults and especially seniors,” he said.

The misunderstandings and ensuing anxieties about no mahjongg classes and other adult-ed offerings were unfortunate. But the residents’ appearances before the council served a vital purpose: They made it clear to the council and the city how important these “lifelong learning” classes are to their lives. Any inkling of a thought about eliminating them is surely quashed in the wake of such feedback.

Hopefully, the “fake news” turned out to be real, good news for residents. We have no reason to believe otherwise.

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