Sounding the death knell for higher education
Elimination of classes. Cancellation of summer school programs. Long lines to get into required courses. Rising student fees. Rationing of education. Reduction of faculty.
Welcome to the state of California’s Community Colleges, circa 2012.
And if voters turn down Gov. Jerry Brown’s pending revenue initiative this November, the state’s already beleaguered community colleges could see an effective funding reduction of about $613 million in the coming year, according to the Community College Chancellor’s Office. Chancellor Jack Scott noted that the community college system would gain about $300 million in new revenues if the governor’s tax initiative is approved, but it would lose those revenues and suffer another $300 million in additional cuts should the measure fail. California’s community colleges have been cut $809 million since 2008.
“It is absolutely crucial that the funding initiative be passed,” said CCA President Ron Norton Reel. “Our community colleges and our entire education system cannot sustain any more cuts. Enough is enough.”
For students and faculty, it’s already been enough, and many are fighting back against the defunding of education. Students have joined in activities in the Capitol at Sacramento and on college campuses including Santa Monica College, Long Beach City College and Gavilan College in Gilroy.
At Santa Monica College, dozens of students were pepper sprayed by police in April when they turned out at a board of trustees meeting to protest a pilot program that would have provided high-demand core courses at about four times the regular price.
Margaret Quinones-Perez, vice chair of the board of trustees at Santa Monica College as well as a CCA member who teaches at El Camino College, was the only board member to dissent. Following the protests, however, the board agreed to postpone the plan “for-the-time-being.” Addressing a lunchtime audience at the CCA Spring Conference, Quinones-Perez was still upset by what had taken place. Her remarks regarding her support for real student success was received with a standing ovation from the CCA delegates.
It took the students to tell the board, “You are not right. You are wrong,” she said. “That’s not how we are going to educate our kids in California.”
At Long Beach College, students joined faculty early in May at a funeral marking the “Death of Education” on their campus. The board of trustees recently approved a plan to cut 55 nonteaching jobs and reduce contracts for 96 positions.
“While our Superintendent- President gets a 4 percent raise every year, classes are being slashed and staff are losing their jobs,” said Lynn Shaw, president of the CTA Long Beach City College faculty association.
Gavilan College students have joined their instructors in organizing against the Student Success plan that would “ration” education by making it more difficult for students who attend college part-time.
“This is why it is important for our members get involved in the campaign. We need to do this for our students,” Reel said.
CCA/CTA members can find out more information about the funding initiative and other election issues on the CTA website at www.cta.org/campaign2012.