Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Realities of Higher Education in California

I mentioned previously that the community colleges are going to a "rationing" model for educational access, putting a priority on class registration for students who're making normative time toward a degree or university transfer. There's actually a jumble of factors that have gotten us to this point, and a good many of those are not budgetary. So I'm interested to see this editorial at the Long Beach Press-Telegram, which really gets to the nub of a lot of the issues facing the public higher education system, especially for those demographics with limited economic means. See, "Cost of Ignorance - I'll Prepared Students a Burden for Colleges":
Budget cuts have forced California's public colleges and universities to make tough choices about how to continue to serve students. They are cutting back on classes, limiting enrollment and raising tuition. And one reason is the cost of the remedial education they have to provide.

For example, fully 90 percent of students who enter Long Beach Community College need remedial classes in math and English. That dismal number comes despite efforts by the Long Beach Unified School District, which does more than most to ensure students' success, and its partners at CSULB and LBCC to prepare students for college.

Called the Long Beach College Promise, the program guaranteed LBUSD graduates admission to California State University Long Beach if they met the minimum requirements for college. Now, under a plan being discussed by CSU officials, the bottom 10 percent of those students would have to take remedial courses at LBCC before they could be admitted.

Given the elimination of tens of millions of dollars in funding for CSU and UC schools, the days of guaranteeing the lowest performers a place in the classroom could be over, and rightly so....

The reality of higher education is that less money is available as more students compete for scarce spots. The other reality is that far too many high school graduates can't read and write and do math. That puts an unnecessary burden on community colleges, which have to offer far too many remedial classes.