September 24, 2012
California Community Colleges at a Crossroad
The Los Angeles Times published two stories this weekend that illustrate the new realities California community colleges are facing.
In the first, "California's community colleges staggering during hard times," the reporter describes the struggle for students to get into the classes they need to fulfill their educational goals. While the examples cited are for other community colleges in the state, we know Southwestern College students were also shut out of some of the more popular classes.
The story does an excellent job in explaining the sources of funding for community college, the role of community colleges in the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education and the ongoing pressures to be all things to all students.
Coupled with the second story, "Secretary of Labor recommends shift in approach at community colleges," which calls for community colleges to promote skills development and employment opportunities among students, there is a need for reflection.
Six weeks from now—through Proposition 30—voters will have an opportunity to weigh in on the role community colleges have in providing higher education opportunities. As outlined in the LA Times article, ongoing budget reductions have had a measurable impact on students’ abilities to attend college. In the last several years, 450,000 students have been turned away from California community colleges. That is more than the combined enrollments of the University of California and the California State University systems.
The outcome of Proposition 30 will have a definite impact on our college. If you haven’t seen the webpage on our website, I encourage you to become familiar with the information so that you can be a resource to your family and friends as they research the issues. In addition to the webpage, this week we will also complete a one-page handout that specifically outlines Prop. 30’s potential impact at Southwestern College. It will also be linked to our information webpage.
The second LA Times article quotes U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis in her efforts to increase collaboration between community colleges and industry. That coordination has also been a cornerstone of Vice Chancellor Van Ton-Quinlivan’s efforts.
We have invited the Vice Chancellor to be the keynote speaker of our “Getting Technical: Critical Conversations about Today’s and Tomorrow’s Workforce” summit on Nov. 1. Hosted here at Southwestern College, the summit will bring together leaders of three industry sectors with growing needs in South County: health care, manufacturing and maritime. The morning promises to be an opportunity for Southwestern to better align our programs with industry needs.
Stay tuned for more details of the summit as they are developed.