Advocates working to change proposed legislation
The Community College Association continues to work with state legislators to curtail two bills that could drastically alter access to the state’s community colleges.
The bills, SB 1062 and SB 1456, are based on recommendations by the California Community Colleges Task Force on Student Success for the purpose of developing a plan to improve the success rate of our students. CCA has taken oppose positions on both bills, SB 1062 by state Sen. Carol Liu (D-Pasadena) and SB 1456 by state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) because of the far-reaching and unintended consequences they will have on our students.
“Now is the time we need faculty to talk to their local legislators and tell them we oppose the bills as written,” said CCA President Ron Norton Reel. “We are focusing attention on the state Assembly where we hope we can eliminate the detrimental effects of the bills.”
CCA is concerned that the “Student Success” recommendations will reduce the number of students in community colleges for reasons other than to transfer to four-year colleges.
“Students who want to upgrade their skills, obtain certificates to advance their careers, go part-time, learn English, and take classes for the joy of learning may find the once-open doors of community college slammed shut,” Reel said.
In addition to providing testimony to the Community College Board of Governors and the Legislature, Reel has been working closely with CCA/CTA’s legislative advocates to amend the bills. CCA has also developed a number of resources that can be found on its website at www.cca4me.org. Resources include a cost analysis of the bills, resolutions for local trustees to sign, talking points and fliers.
Local CCA activists have taken the message to heart and have worked to organize members and students to take action. Faculty from Gavilan College in Gilroy, for example, have been collecting signatures on petitions, posting on Facebook, and writing letters and opinion pieces in area newspapers. They provide resources on their website and have launched a YouTube video called “Real Student Success: Keep the ‘Community’ in Community College.”
In the video, history professor and Gavilan College Faculty Association President Leah Halper observes that in their 100-year-old history, “community colleges have developed into wonderful places that offer something for everybody,” from music classes for her 75-year-old father to AP classes for her 16-year-old niece. “We need community colleges to keep serving everybody… Let’s not start picking and choosing which people and which goals get addressed.”
As written, SB 1456 provides no strategy for measuring the success of community college students and creates a two-tiered system of students – those with educational experiences and those who lack the language, computer and math skills necessary for college success. It also offers no mechanism to ensure that colleges hire more counselors to help first-generation college students navigate an often-complicated system.
SB 1062 by state Sen. Carol Liu (D-Pasadena) authorizes the Board of Governors to appoint persons without permanent civil service status to vice chancellor and assistant vice chancellor positions.
“The Chancellor’s office would be given sweeping new powers to make ‘cabinet’ appointments that do nothing to improve student success,” Reel said.
For more information on the bills and on the Student Success recommendations, go to www.cca4me.org.