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Proposed new online community college faces skepticism

Students walk on campus at West Los Angeles College.
Students walk on campus at West Los Angeles College.
Susanica Tam for KPCC

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Earlier this year, Governor Jerry Brown included funding in his preliminary budget for a fully online public college to make advanced learning, and better jobs, more accessible to all Californians. In particular, Brown is hoping to reach the 2.5 million Californians who have high school diplomas but do not have college degrees, according to Felicia Mello of Cal Matters: 

... these are really working adults that are looking for credentials to advance their career. And these are folks that [Governor Brown] says are currently not accessing the college system in California and are getting shut out of job opportunities in the job market because they lack credentials. 

Brown aims to partner with the California Community Colleges System to develop this new online college. The school would focus on training workers for various high-demand industries, including "healthcare, childcare, advanced manufacturing and information technology," according to Mello. 

The Governor seeks $100 million to design the curriculum plus an annual operating budget of $20 million. But even if the new college is funded, it faces various hurdles. Mello spoke with a professor from College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita who teaches early childhood education. The professor identified a practical issue: 

And she said "You know, some things are really easy to teach online, like the types of theory classes that deal with child development. But when you're taking about something like 'how do you change an infant's diaper?' that's something that's really difficult to teach, or even assess, exclusively online. 

The proposal for an online college has also met with resistance from existing colleges in California, which already offer online courses. Concerns about unequal access to technology have also been raised.