California’s landmark higher education law needs overhaul

In abstract

The state’s 1960 blueprint for increased training is elitist and woefully outdated. It must be up to date to mirror how the group faculty system has advanced.

Visitor Commentary written by

Carlos O. Cortez

Dr. Carlos O. Cortez is chancellor of the San Diego Group Faculty District.

Amy Costa, incoming president of the California Group Schools Board of Governors, aptly described the state’s “Master Plan for Higher Education” final month as “antiquated at finest.” Group faculties are going through severe challenges securing baccalaureate diploma applications, and the 62-year-old governing doc is a significant motive why.

The plan must be reworked not solely to mirror new workforce realities, however to remove the vestiges of elitism baked into it.

Formally generally known as the 1960 Donahoe Higher Education Act, the state’s blueprint for increased training was touted as bringing a set of competing faculties and universities right into a coherent system. The College of California, California State College and California’s junior faculties had been every assigned a selected position with a selected cadre of scholars – all within the identify of offering entry to increased training for anybody who wished to pursue their research.

However the UC system was given outsized affect within the plan’s growth. Solely one of the best and brightest college students, which on the time got here predominantly from the privileged class, can be allowed to attend the celebrated college. Lesser college students had been funneled into the CSU system, whereas everybody else solely had the choice of attending a junior faculty. 

Even the identify “grasp plan” hearkens again to a time of complete subservience.

Larger training has advanced over the previous 60 years. It’s crucial that California stops searching for steerage on the way to administer it from a legislation that was written when Dwight Eisenhower was within the White Home. Group faculties at this time are providing extra noncredit, short-term vocational certifications, and public universities supply certifications by burgeoning extension applications. Each faculty is predicted to supply college students with extra social assist, providing sources equivalent to meals pantries, housing help, authorized help and youngster care. 

In 2014, California took an vital step with Senate Bill 850 and a pilot program that allowed 15 of California’s 116 group faculties to supply bachelor’s levels for the primary time (albeit restricted to career-specific areas in areas missing expert labor). That was adopted up on final yr with Assembly Bill 927, which allowed as many as 30 extra group faculty baccalaureate applications yearly.

The outcomes have been spectacular. An August study by UC Davis discovered that 56% of scholars graduating from a California group faculty baccalaureate program stated they might not have pursued a bachelor’s diploma until it had been supplied there. Group faculties are notably offering in-demand baccalaureate applications in fields the CSU and UC methods overlook. 

One other issue: college students from deprived households who can’t afford to depart their hometown to attend a college can now safe a bachelor’s diploma from a California group faculty for a fraction of the associated fee wanted to fund a bachelor’s diploma from a UC, CSU or personal faculty. 

Increasing alternatives at group faculties is a matter of fairness. Roughly two-thirds of group faculty baccalaureate college students are college students of colour, more than 70% of group faculty college students are nonwhite, and 35% are the primary of their households to attend faculty. What’s extra, California’s public universities cannot keep up with the growing demand for bachelor’s levels, and are turning away college students solely as a result of they don’t have any room.

California’s group faculties are the bedrock of the state’s increased training system. With 1.8 million college students at 116 faculties, it’s the largest system of workforce coaching and better training within the nation. Group faculties are each bit as very important to our economic system because the College of California and California State College, and it’s time the governing paperwork for increased training mirrored that.

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