News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 2 to 3 p.m.

LA's community colleges prep for changes: a four-year degree, more federal funds for students




Francisco Rodriguez, chancellor of the LA Community College District, says the nine-campus system has plans to hire up to 150 new faculty in the coming year.
Francisco Rodriguez, chancellor of the LA Community College District, says the nine-campus system has plans to hire up to 150 new faculty in the coming year.
Dorian Merina / KPCC

Listen to story

08:07
Download this story 3MB

Community colleges in the Los Angeles area are preparing for some big changes, including a new four-year degree, more federal funds under an Obama-backed proposal and the hiring of up to 150 new faculty.

The Los Angeles Community College district is the largest in the nation, with some 150,000 students. This week, students head back to campus for the Spring semester.

Francisco Rodriguez is the chancellor of the LA district. It's his first year heading up the nine-campus system.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

On the proposal for a four-year degree in dental hygiene at West Los Angeles College

"First and foremost, it provides the needs that our employers are telling us they need. Secondly, the wonderful news about this is that a student can get this degree for around $10,500. If you shop around in schools, the wonderful schools in this area, the costs can be anywhere from $80,000 to $100,000 for the exact same degree."

On the hiring of up to 150 faculty

"The faculty are full-time, tenure-track faculty in all academic disciplines, including librarians and counselors, in general transfer education as well as career and technical education...does it mean more classes? Absolutely."

On meeting goals to provide more support for students in basic skills classes

"We are making process. We're certainly not there yet. It's too soon to tell what early interventions we've put into place – our accelerated learning, our compressed environments, the new tools that we're putting into place, new technology, new teaching and learning andragogy for adult learning, if you will – but the initial views when we start to disaggregate the data suggests that our students come in academically prepared, they do very well. And I was very clear that it's a national phenomenon that when the students don't come in college-ready, the rate of success drops off precipitously."