By Brenda Acuna |Staff Writer|
Community colleges play a fundamental role in the higher education system. Appropriate funding is needed to allow these campuses to be the stepping stone for college students.
As a transfer student, I witnessed firsthand the problem with community colleges: a high demand for classes and not enough resources. I had to go to school full-time and commute to three campuses to transfer in two years.
There are many community college students who don’t have the time or gas to do what I did.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s new focus on community colleges grants them an additional $197 million in general-purpose funds next year.
But while this is mostly good news, there’s a catch.
Brown plans to distribute money to colleges through performance-based funding, a process that will include preventing students from repeating courses to improve their grades and allowing students who participate in orientation and academic assessment programs and have 100 units or less to enroll in classes first.
Also, students would have to maintain satisfactory grades to continue to qualify for fee waivers.
While funding these schools is on the right track, funding them correctly is more important.
Performance-based funding is a preposterous idea.
Students will be inclined to enroll in less rigorous courses to refrain from failing the more demanding classes.
As of now, funding is based on the number of students enrolled at the third or fourth week of the term.
Brown’s proposal intends to speed up students’ time in school.
I strongly disagree with this notion because students need time to evaluate career opportunities; especially since the majority of students tend to change their major at least twice.
In his budget proposal, a significant part of it would cap state subsidized community college classes at 90 units.
Beyond that, students would have to pay full freight – from $127 to $190 per credit based on a quarter or semester calendar, according to The Los Angeles Times.
By incorporating these regulations, Brown is ignoring the reality that the only benefiting students will be the ones able to attend college full-time.
More importantly, emphasis on college completion has its drawbacks since the majority of community college students are older, have jobs, families and usually only go to school part-time.
In addition, most of the community colleges’ 2.4 million students are unprepared for college-level work.
According to The Los Angeles Times, “85 percent need remedial English, 73 percent need remedial math and only about a third of remedial students transfer to a four-year school or graduate with a community college associate’s degree.”
“This cap is ridiculous,” said student Ana Molina. “I just transferred here and feel bad for those who will find it harder to transfer. We all work just as hard to get to where we are.”
Making classes accessible will move students faster through the system towards transferring to a four-year university.
Brown’s spending plan still has to clear the legislature and some college officials have vowed to oppose or at least modify some of its provisions.
After this debacle is over, I hope Brown doesn’t rear his ugly head in the direction of the CSUs.