Santa Maria Sun / Commentary
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 33
Students need education and job training nowProposition 30's passage would allow community colleges to teach effectively and efficiently
BY ELIZABETH A. MILLER
Newspapers locally and across the state have weighed the pros and cons of Proposition 30 and made the decision to endorse it. In my position as interim superintendent/president of Allan Hancock College, I, too, have been asked by many about Proposition 30 and Proposition 38 and how they would affect Allan Hancock College, pass or fail.
The answers are simple, but there is always the rest of the story.
When I say community colleges educate the vast majority of California’s college students, I mean just that. Right now, 2.4 million students are enrolled in the 112 California community colleges across the state. That number once was 2.9 million; however, $809 million in budget cuts to the community colleges over the last four years has shut the door to nearly 500,000 students. These are the same students who become the backbone of California’s workforce:
• California community colleges educate 70 percent of our state’s nurses.
• California community colleges train 80 percent of firefighters, law enforcement personnel, and emergency medical technicians.
• Twenty-eight percent of University of California and 55 percent of California State University graduates started at a California community college.
• Transfer students from the California Community Colleges to the University of California system currently account for 48 percent of UC’s bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
• Community colleges offer associate degrees and short-term job training certificates in more than 175 fields, and approximately 25,000 apprentices are educated each year to meet the demand for a skilled workforce.
Not only are we the workforce backbone, but we do it in the most cost-effective way. The state revenue needed to support one full-time community college student is just more than $5,000 a year; the same student costs approximately $7,500 in the K-12 system, and $20,000 and $11,000, respectively, at UC and CSU.
The community colleges, including Allan Hancock College, have scrutinized every option for cost savings and efficiencies.
We have reduced courses, consolidated administration, increased class sizes, instituted energy savings programs, increased industry partnerships, reduced student services programs and hours, limited new hiring, and cut or completely eliminated many budgets. And yet, it is not enough. The sheer size of these budget shortfalls cannot be managed without massive cuts to more classes and programs.
I also mentioned that I receive questions about Proposition 38. That is another easy answer from a California Community College perspective. None of the funding from that proposition, if passed, would benefit Allan Hancock College or any of the 112 California Community Colleges. However, it should be noted that if both propositions 38 and 30 pass, then the one with the most votes will prevail. Therefore, if Proposition 38 garners the most votes, regardless of Proposition 30’s pass or fail status, no funds will go to the community colleges.
As I said, there is always the rest of the story.
For us, the story is simple. Without passage of Proposition 30, Allan Hancock College will be serving thousands fewer students at a time when they need education and job training the most. m
Elizabeth A. Miller, Ed.D., is interim superintendent/president of Allan Hancock College. Send comments to the executive editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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