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Community colleges may ban repeat students

An image of Los Angeles City College under construction.
An image of Los Angeles City College under construction.

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Ah, the varied splendor of your local community college. Students can sign up for anything from Italian for beginners to vocational nursing to learning the basics of salsa dancing. And if you really like a class, you can sign up again and again, unless a new rule is passed by the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges.

Yesterday, the board discussed whether students should be prohibited from repeating a course (unless they failed to get a satisfactory grade). It's said too many students are taking subsidized classes for what are in fact recreational pastimes that should be taken at private clubs.

"Previously the repeatability rules allowed for those types of courses to be repeated," said Barry Russell, vice chancellor, Academic Affairs Division, California Community Colleges. "In the new language, it still protects those courses required by a curriculum that leads to a degree at the UC or a CSU system, those courses like the community band or choirs fit into that category."

According to Russell, the Board overwhelmingly supports the plan and there is support from the academic senate and administrative groups. There is a 45-day period for open comment and a second reading of the rule will happen in July at the Board of Governors. As of now there have not been any strong signs of opposition.

The proposal reads: "Under the current economic and legislation climate, the community colleges have come under increasing scrutiny concerning the ability of students to repeat classes in a manner that is not productive to the ... goal of increasing overall student success and completion."

Opponents of the proposed rule are worried that low income students and seniors will be barred from taking repeat physical education or arts courses.

"A student of metal arts here at city college was just offered a merit scholarship at university because of the portfolio she was able to create by repeating classes in metal art sculpture and ceramics," said Karen Saginore, President of the Academic Senate, City College of San Francisco. "I don't think there are that many of these students, so closing the door is not actually going to make a whole lot of space in the chemistry and math classes, but it will definitely close a door for low income students in particular."


Who will get squeezed out by this new proposal? Is it really just hobbyists? What about professionals and trade workers who want to stay up-to-date on the latest computer software or best practices in their fields? Will there be exceptions to this rule? Will certain demographics be affected disproportionately?


Barry Russell, Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs Division, California Community Colleges

Karen Saginor, President of the Academic Senate, City College of San Francisco