On Wednesday, September 26, 2012, interim chancellor of California’s Community Colleges Erik Skinner, along with vice chancellor of fiscal policies Dan Troy and Student Senate president Rich Copenhagen, held a teleconference for students, press, and teachers. Together, they went over the issues that community colleges all over California have been facing these past few years. Issues such as budget cuts that are our campuses have endured. A cut that comes at a difficult time considering the soaring demand for higher education in this state.
Face it; classrooms are shutting down, enrollment is dropping, faculty members are getting laid off, salaries are being cut. It’s real, it’s happening to community colleges all over California, and it can only get worse from here on out.
During the teleconference, Skinner provides an update on the fiscal condition of California’s Community Colleges. His office has conducted a survey and discovered 70% of the colleges have reported that enrollments and course sections are fewer than ever. These findings are very current and very tangible, which is the scary part.
He notes that in the 2008-2009 academic year, enrollment was watermarked at 2.89 million students. Since then, only 2.4 million students are currently enrolled in the California community college system. That’s a 17% reduction of students, nearly at half a million. This sparks the question, how are we going to provide access to higher education for our newer generations?
87% of colleges reported that staffing levels are also facing reduction, mainly with the part-time and adjunct faculty members. However, even administrative and classified faculties have faced cuts. A college without teachers could only mean fewer course options and availability, as well as a loss of quality in innovation that these teachers bring with them.
The survey also finds that the average college had a wait-list of 7,252 students. With such a long list, students are having a difficult time getting into the courses they need.
Troy stresses focus on California Prop 30, a tax increase initiative that will be on the November 6 ballot this year. For those who aren’t aware of it yet, this proposition will allocate money towards education in our state as reported by us earlier this semester.
If Prop 30 passes, the community colleges will receive roughly 210 million dollars in addition to the current funding. For students wanting a higher education, not only does this mean they get an opportunity to attend a community college, but they may be able to obtain the classes they want.
However, not all of that money will be going towards the classrooms, because the colleges still have to repay deferrals from previous years. Even so, if we were to look at the grander scale of things, every little bit of extra funding helps.
Students expressed concerns that Prop 30 may not pass, or that Prop 38, an opposition to Prop 30 that will also be on the ballot, will pass instead. This proposition, however, does not provide any money toward community colleges, only serving K-12 systems. And if this one passes, or neither passes, then the potential crisis that higher education is going to face will become more of a reality.
What we can expect instead is the cutting of more courses, an increase of student fees, and a loss of overall quality in our campuses. Or worse, campuses may close down due to having little to no budget at all.
With California’s community colleges relying heavily on Prop 30 to pass, and no alternatives in the works, we may have a crime against higher education on our hands and could face a major crisis that’s statewide.
So what can we, as students, do? Get out there and vote. It’s as simple as that. Let’s do our part and make sure Prop 30 passes. Colleges are doing whatever they can to make sure you get your education, so give back to the system and make sure education is here to stay.