Until a few years ago, just about any Californian could attend a community college, and many did. The colleges offered a wide variety of options: They conferred two-year associate's degrees; prepared students for junior-year transfer to a four-year college; provided vocational training and certification; offered remedial courses for high school grads who lacked college skills; taught English to immigrants and enrichment courses to the elderly; offered recreational classes; provided college-level education — and credits — for ambitious high school students; and were the leading source of lifelong learning and career retraining for the state's adults.Continue reading.
But at this point, open access to higher education in California is more theoretical than real. Budget cuts have drastically reduced course offerings, making it extremely difficult for students to reach their educational goals. In 2009-10, nearly 140,000 entering students couldn't get into any classes because they had low priority in the registration system. Large numbers of students who are already attending community college are routinely shut out of courses they need to graduate or transfer. At the same time, other students meander through courses year after year, racking up far more credits than they need and taking up seats in classrooms. Many eventually drop out or never move out of the system at all. People who take courses for personal enrichment similarly fill classes that are needed by those aiming for degrees or specific training.
Bravo to the many Californians who value and seek out some form of higher education. But with the state no longer able to provide for all of them, a state task force is calling for sweeping changes. Some of the recommendations would use public dollars more efficiently while providing students fairer access. Others go too far, threatening to turn the colleges into certificate-production machines rather than true institutions of higher learning.
The reform initiative is here: "California Community Colleges Student Success Task Force."
This was just sent out by my college Superintendent-President's office, and I haven't yet read all the proposals. It's a program for rationing educational opportunity at the community colleges, which sounds harsh. But as it is, there's so much waste and abuse in the system I can't say this isn't a step in the right direction. But I'll have more after I look over some of the materials. California can't do everything, and money's tight. And so far Democrats haven't done jack to get the economy humming again, so you do what you have to during slim times.