Tuesday, September 4, 2012

California’s College Crisis: Nearly Half a Million on Waitlist

Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons
I hope I will be forgiven for exploiting the word “crisis” after repeatedly criticizing Ed Deformers, politicians and the wealthy for regularly misusing the term. Yet the situation in California’s community colleges seems to warrant such language. After all, the state’s community college system has lost $809 million over the last three years, resulting in mass layoffs, increased fees, the gutting of course offerings (down 24% from the 2008-9 school year), and large increases in class sizes. Perhaps the most dramatic effect of these cuts is the wait list of 472,349 students (according to the California Community Chancellor’s Officewho are trying to get into the system.

The problem could get dramatically worse in November, if voters reject Proposition 30, a tax increase intended to raise funds for public education. If that bill fails, Good Education reports, the community college system will be forced to make another $228 million cut in January, 2013.

Considering that the community colleges serve low income students of color, workers trying to gain new job skills, and those who cannot afford the four-year universities, the rising costs and declining openings at community colleges will likely result in deferred or abandoned college educations for many students and, consequently, reduced earning power.

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