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The Education of the Uninterested

January 10, 2012

I’ve taken a small share of community college courses since I graduated.  For instance, when I was considering a temporary stint in Germany, I hit the local school for an introduction to German (that incidentally taught me more about culture and saved me from many clashes over time simply by teaching me common grammar rules, I’ll tell that story someday).  I still pour over the catalog that we get here in Oregon to see if there are any art classes that I could take to give myself another hobby.

So I find it somewhat funny and sad that California is embroiled in a clash of culture over its current community college planning.  There’s a lot more to it than this story, but I think the messages in here are instructive enough to say a couple things.

The 22 recommendations approved by the college system’s Board of Governors are intended to address a devilish problem: Essential classes are in critically short supply and thousands of students are turned away from classes they need because of the state’s economic crisis.

Under the new plan, all students will be expected to set up an education plan to move quickly toward an associate’s degree or vocational certificate. If they linger too long or take too many classes unrelated to their goal, they lose registration priority. Others poor enough to quality for a fee waiver would lose that benefit after 110 credits, well beyond the 60 credits needed to transfer.

If you really look at the issues in the system, it boils down (in a somewhat rough and I’m sure unfair fashion) to the following:

  • The school system itself got cut by $2B because CA can’t figure out how to cut dumb programs to make people smarter
  • The school system isn’t graduating people with degrees because it doesn’t have a system in place to push for that
  • The current school system has a bunch of people who are taking classes for free because there are waivers based on income and situation
  • The current school system has a bunch of people who are taking classes for free because the classes are free

There, that about sums it up… Hey, if I sign up for a beginning painting class in my state, I have to pay $100 or something.  I think that’s eminently fair.  If I’m going to learn something it shouldn’t be on the backs of taxpayers for me to learn it.  I’m ambivalent on the “scholarship” programs since I don’t have all the details.  In general, a community college is supposed to better you while you work for a living.  If you really can’t afford that, then I’d rather see what else you choose to afford instead and we can start the conversation from there.

One other gem at the end of the article:

As the board members voted, students stood, interrupting with “Mike check!” the Occupy movement’s signature statement. They paused only long enough to allow the board to finish voting, then shouted:

“We’ll be back! We shut down the Port of Oakland – twice – and we’re coming for you!”

So the good news is that we at least know where the hippies went.  As in any life event, it’s always good to know your constants.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ellend permalink
    January 11, 2012 7:18 pm

    Instead of getting rid of “dumb programs”, California is mandating gay history classes be taught in elementary and high school. I don’t think that pointing out the sexual orientation of historical figures will cut down on the bullying or increase acceptance of people who are different.

    Almost as dumb as the guy in DC proposing the requirement all high school seniors take college admission tests and apply to college, community college or a trade school – even if the student is not the least bit interested in attending. If this passes, I hope the counselors emphasize trade schools for those not interested in college, but probably not.

  2. January 10, 2012 3:18 pm

    I went to a community college in CA for two years and transferred to Berkeley. I had very fair teachers, less biased than anyone I’d met at the UC, and interested in simply teaching. It was a great resource for me to get my English up to speed (I was in the country for a little over a year when I started community college).
    My goal from the start was to transfer to UC Berkeley, but most students I know were hanging around, “trying to figure out what to do”. In this environment getting good grades was fairly easy.
    Back then CA was also in financial crisis, and the community colleges threatened to raise tuition for students who had completed a certain amount units, and, IIRC they did, though not by much. I believe there is a scam where people can sign up with classes and then drop out, but keep collecting their welfare checks. That definitely needs to stop.

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