Jasmine Delgado is one of the lucky ones. With advice from an older sister, the Santa Monica College student developed a plan that has helped her enroll in the classes she needs to transfer next year to a four-year university.
But many California community college students lack the motivation, guidance and resources to reach that goal. So, for the past year, a statewide task force has been studying ways to help them get there.
The panel held its first town hall meeting this week at the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce, attracting a packed audience of educators, community members and students who were given an overview and the chance to comment on draft recommendations that will be presented to the California Community Colleges’ Board of Governors.
The proposals are for sweeping reforms that would move toward rationing access to community colleges, compel students to take more responsibility for their education and prioritize the types of classes being offered.
Under the state’s Master Plan for Higher Education, community colleges have long offered an open door for anyone who sought to benefit. But the task force suggests that after years of state funding cuts, community colleges can no longer be all things to all people.
“To participate fully in education without accountability is a wonderful ideal, but that’s not the reality we’re in,” said task force chairman Peter MacDougall, a member of the colleges’ board. “How do we use our limited resources? There have to be priorities and there has to be focusing.”
The 22 recommendations seek to “reboot” the system by prioritizing registration and fee waivers for students who participate in assessment and orientation programs, and who have concrete goals, such as a degree, certificate or to transfer to a four-year college. The panel estimates that tightening the criteria for fee waivers could save about $89 million annually, which could fund new support services. [Read more.]