Community colleges

Community colleges are an integral piece in the state’s public education system. They help students, especially minority and low-income students, continue with their post-secondary studies. California’s fiscal crisis and budget cuts have forced changes but these should not alter the historical role played by this institution.

The Student Success Task Force has detailed a series of recommendations that should be approved in the coming days by the Communtity College Board of Governors and then sent to the legislature to enact the laws necessary to implement the plan.

The recommendations focus on giving priority to students who finish high school, which is larger number these days given the reduction of space in the state’s university systems. It is important, however, that at the time the laws are put into place, the issue of equity is addressed upfront so that minority students are not displaced by white students who can’t get in to the University of California or California State system.

At the same time, we believe giving priority to students that graduate from high school above others, such as perpetual students or elective recreational courses, is a positive approach. Yet minority students and others whom, for lack of time or resources, take longer to complete their studies shouldn’t be penalized in the new system.

We also welcome the proposed support for basic skills courses so that students can compete with their peers. We also appreciate the same emphasis provided for teaching English as a Second Language. The question will be to provide the funds.

Some aspects of the recommendations are questionable. For example, academic advisors should not be replaced by on-line programs. In this case as in others, this requires students to take on a responsibility for which they are ill- prepared.

We believe that the recommendations should be accepted because many of the changes are necessary given the new economic reality. But is necessary to correct some of the recommendations when the laws are put into place so that Latino and minority students are not hurt in the process.