Less than a year ago, California voters agreed to increase income taxes on the wealthy and modestly increase sales taxes on everyone to begin to restore education funding to schools and community colleges and keep student fees low. Thousands of educators and students fought for Proposition 30 as a means to maintain affordable access to higher education.
Once proposition 30 was passed Governor Brown kept his word, and community colleges have been injected with new funds especially delineated for opening up new classes in core subjects like Math and English for its students.
This allowed Community Colleges to hire new adjunct faculty to teach the newly opened up classes, which created jobs for new graduates who were struggling a semester before to get hired as many classes had been cut.
Higher education is not out of the woods, and there is a future proposed bill, AB955, that if passed might mean the death knell for community colleges.
Assembly Bill 955 (Williams) would create a two-tier fee system in community colleges by authorizing six pilot colleges to charge their students exorbitant fees for intersession courses. AB 955 fees will run over $750 for a typical 3-unit community college course.
Current community college fees for a typical 3-unit course are $138. By raising student fees so dramatically,
Funds from Proposition 30 only stops the rot it does not eradicate it. Our community colleges are still educational institutes in dire need of funds. AB 955 runs counter to this goal and is a betrayal of the promises made during the campaign to pass Proposition 30.
AB 955 will effectively deny equal, open access to the working class Californians who depend most on our community colleges for public higher education and ultimately, social mobility.
Creating a system of haves and have-nots is no way to educate our state, especially now that we are on the road to recovery and adding thousands of courses to community college districts statewide.
Currently, AB 955 has passed the Legislature and is on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk. This is the final step before the bill is signed and becomes law.
Take action now and let your voices be heard. The Governor needs to hear from Californians that while “adding more courses” may sound like a good idea, doing so by raising student fees to exorbitant levels and piloting socioeconomic segregation in our community colleges is unacceptable.