California has the country's largest system of two-year junior colleges, with 112 independent campuses. The state has generally boasted solid state schools, ranging from the UC System (University of California), the Cal State Universities, and the community colleges. With the recent economic struggles have come simultaneous issues with the state's educational programs. The 2-year campuses are an important part of California’s future, and Governor Jerry Brown is proposing changes to improve their performance.
Among other policy alternatives, Brown is proposing limits to the number of credits students can accumulate, requiring students who stay longer to pay an increased rate. He is also working on incentive programs for students to perform well in classes, as well as performance based funding for colleges. Online classes have proven to be a viable alternative to traditional education, and the Governor is also looking to increase these web-based options.
With budget cuts among other obstacles facing California’s community colleges, Governor Brown has proposed this series of policy changes in attempts to ensure that the system is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. The problem with the current system is that students are graduating from these 2-year colleges without being properly prepared for the workplace or for continued education. It is clear that policy changes must be made.
In response to Brown’s proposals, Rio Hondo College Professor, Michelle Pilati stated: "I think he's putting policies on the table we really need to look at and think about. As with so many things, the devil is in the details."
The Governor has taken a step forward in providing some viable alternatives, but these changes should not be implemented without extensive examination into the likely outcomes of his policies. Some experts are apprehensive that performance based funding, for example, will encourage colleges to discontinue courses that are more demanding for students, and thus yield lower average grades.
Although the details need to be worked out, and some of the proposals should be re-assessed or even axed from the plan, this is a solid step towards increasing the productivity of the California’s junior colleges.