So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

California Community Colleges to consider limiting students from repeating classes

California University Cuts

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott, told lawmakers that budget cuts to the community colleges, have increased class size and made it more difficult for students to get into classes while appearing before a joint Legislative hearing at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Dec. 7, 2009.

The California Community Colleges governing board will examine a new system-wide policy change Monday that would limit students from being able to repeat certain courses, primarily in arts and physical education, after their successful completion, as part of an effort to better allocate already meager state funds.

"Some students enroll in community colleges and take PE class or tennis, three times in a row," said Paul Feist, a spokesman for the California Community Colleges' Chancellor's Office. "In this age of budget cuts, where we've been forced to ration education, it just seems like there's a better use of state funding for courses that are more lined up with students' needs for certificates, degrees and transfers."

Under the new policy, colleges would be allowed to claim the portion of state funds for these courses only once for each student. The change in policy would affect roughly 2.6 million students at 112 campuses statewide in what is the world's largest system of higher education.

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Cuts to community college system a 'travesty,' says trustee

California University Cuts

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott, told lawmakers that budget cuts to the community colleges, have increased class size and made it more difficult for students to get into classes while appearing before a joint Legislative hearing at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Dec. 7, 2009.

Ray Gen knows what it's like from both sides of the aisle, so to speak.

He's on the governing board of the El Camino Community College District, but he's also a full-time English teacher at El Segundo High School.

"I talked to a former student who graduated just last year, and he said in the fall he could only get two classes" at a community college," Gen said. "I mean, it's going to take him four or five years just to get out of a two-year program. It's just a travesty what's going on."

Gen has sat as a trustee on the board while they have had to make $10 million in cuts this past year. Students show up to complain about the loss of more than 1,100 course sections, the inability to get into classes, delayed graduation, and a lack of student services.

"We look back at them with kind of glazed eyes, saying we can't help it," Gen said. "We'd rather cut off our own arms, but there's nothing that can be done because the state refuses to pay for it."

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From 'boom town' to bust at the community colleges

Michael Juliano/KPCC

The public community college has transfer arrangements set up with 10 historically black colleges and universities. In general transfers out of El Camino have become more difficult as budget cuts have decreased course offerings.

When Sean Donnell began teaching at El Camino College in 1998, it was "boom town." The community college system was growing, teachers were receiving a cost-of-living allowance (now frozen), and students were flocking to enroll.

"We all know what happened," Donnell said. The recession.

"And community colleges in particular get hit very hard because its kind of hard to justify taking money away from a kid going through compulsory K-12 education and its funded through the same money. But out of all the higher education systems in the state, we serve the most, we serve more than UC and CSU combined."

Donnell is not only an English professor at the college, but he is also the chief negotiator for the El Camino College Federation of Teachers, Local 1388.

These days, on the the first day of classes, Donnell is used to now seeing a line 30 students deep outside his class hoping to get in — inside sit the other 30 students already signed up.

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El Camino College 'Occupy' student group wants administrators to take pay cuts

Michael Juliano/KPCC

El Camino College

A couple dozen students who make up "Occupy El Camino" are working to cut administrator salaries at their community college.

At a Monday night meeting of the El Camino Community College District Board of Trustees, fourth-year student Robert Dewitz presented the following handout to the trustees and requested they consider a "reasonable" 20 percent cut that would match the type of cuts made to course sections and other school services.


In a brief presentation to the trustees Dewitz outlined the group's stance.

"It's only reasonable to consider an equal cut in administrative salary," Dewitz told the trustees. "...We want fair cuts, and so far, the people paying a price for the economic crisis are students and teachers."

A 20 percent cut to administrative salaries would free up about $250,000, Dewitz said. This is newest campaign for the group, that fought to save the school's 2013 winter session from being cut. However, the college still plans to eliminate the winter 2014 session because of steep budget cuts.

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Students 'hope and pray' they get their classes as community colleges cut

Michael Juliano/KPCC

Students fill the Distance Education Conference Room to hear advice from representatives of El Camino College's transfer programs. Slashed course sections because of budget cuts have made it harder for students to get classes they need to transfer out.

Robert Dewitz, 22, is a fourth year student at El Camino College, a two-year public community college in Torrance.

He planned to transfer into a Cal State University school for fall 2011, but couldn't get into a physics course that would have given him his final credit. Then, after an application error and a missed deadline, he lost his chance to transfer out this fall.

In March, CSU officials announced plans to freeze the majority of spring 2013 enrollment. And so it goes.

"This is supposed to be a two-year college, Dewitz said, "and unfortunately it’s difficult for students to get out in three or four years sometimes, because they can’t get the courses they need."

This is the reality at many community colleges across the state. As budgets have been slashed and course sections cut, fewer students are able to get into classes they need to transfer out. And students have had to put off their education plans.

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